Compared to previous months, I held back in November. With firm resolution, I avoided browsing online booksellers and guess what, I succeeded! Haha. But I cannot totally resist the temptation I guess. I still managed to purchase seven books and four more books are on transit. Here are the seven books I purchased and received in November.

For a backlist reader like me, it comes as a surprise that all my hauls for the month are “new books” Happy reading!

Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 343

Synopsis: “The Vignes sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at the age of sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything, including their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. Across the country, the other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, although separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, The Vanishing Half is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of race, gender and identity, and the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s desires and expectations.

Title: Transcendent Kingdom
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 264

Synopsis: “Yaa Gyasi’s stunning follow up to her everywhere-acclaimed novel Homegoing (“Spectacular” – Zadie Smith; “An inspiration” – Ta-Nehisi Coates) is a novel about a Ghanaian family in the contemporary South, at once a profound story about race in America and an astonishingly intimate portrait of a young woman reckoning, spiritually and intellectually, with a legacy of unmanageable loss.

Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdoes after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s losses, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised.

Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief – a novel about faith, science, religion, love, undertaken with effortless command and raw emotion, in language that soars.”

Title: Piranesi
Author: Susanna Clarke
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 245

Synopsis: “Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful records of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls.

On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food and waterlilies to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone.

Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims.

Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous.

The Beauty of the house is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

Title: Interior Chinatown
Author: Charles Yu
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
Publishing Date: November 2020
No. of Pages: 266

Synopsis: “Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player there, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy – the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. Or is it?

After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a world wider than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown but also the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration – Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring and masterful novel yet.”

Title: Migrations
Author: Charlotte McConaghy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 254

Synopsis: “Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and track their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her on board, winning over his eccentric crew with promises that the birds will lead them to fish.

As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s dark history begins to unspool. When her quest threatens the safety of the entire crew, Franny must ask herself what she is really running toward – and running from. Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Migrations is both an ode to our threatened world and a breathtaking page-turner about the lengths we will go for the people we love.”

Title: Hamnet
Author: Maggie O’Farrell
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 305

Synopsis: “England, 1580: The Black Death creeps across the land, an ever-present threat, infecting the healthy, the sick, the old and the young alike. The end of days is near, but life always goes on.

A young Latin tutor – penniless and bullied by a violent father – falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is just taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to a sudden fever.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down – a magnificent leap forward form one of our most gifted novelists.”

Title: How Much of These Hills is Gold
Author: C Pam Zhang
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 272

Synopsis: “Ba dies in the night, Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned, Lucy and Sam, ages twelve and eleven, are suddenly alone and on the run. With their father’s body on their backs, they roam an unforgiving landscape dotted with giant buffalo bones and tiger paw prints, searching for a place to give him a proper burial. Along they way, they must battle their own secrets, the illusion of the American Dream, and each other.

Set against the twilight of the Gold Rush in a reimagined American West, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a sweeping adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. With fiercely original language and story that is both epic and intimate, C Pam Zhang has written a remarkable novel about family, bound and divided by its memories.”