And just like that, we are through with another month. Wow, we have less than four months before a new year will start! I hope by that time, things will start returning to normal. Before we can move on to September, let me take a brief throwback to the month that was, at least in terms of book haul. Without more ado, here are the books that are part of my August 2021 haul. Happy reading and I hope everyone will have a blessed Sunday!
Title: The Other Black Girl
Author: Zakiya Dalila Harris
Publisher: Atria International
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 354
Synopsis: “Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is pretty tired of being the only Black girl at Wagner Books – so of course she’s excited when Hazel-May McCall starts working in the cubicle beside hers. Born and raised in Harlem, Hazel exudes the confidence and charm that Nella has never quite possessed. But they’ve only just started swapping emails and natural hair care regimes when a string of unsettling events causes Nella to become public enemy number one, and Hazel, the office darling. As Nella begins to spiral, obsess, and ultimately uncover the sinister forces at play, she risks losing much more than just her career. Propulsive, darkly funny, and endlessly surprising, The Other Black Girl will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt manipulated or outmaneuvered, threatened or overlooked. As disturbing as it is tender, this is a novel that questions the silence we trade for success, and asks whether that sacrifice can truly be worth it.”
Title: Such a Fun Age
Author: Kiley Reid
Publishing Date: 2019
No. of Pages: 305
Synopsis: “When Emira Tucker is apprehended at a local high-end supermarket for “kidnapping” the white child she’s babysitting, a small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is left furious and humiliated. Her employer, Alix Chamberlain, a feminist entrepreneur known for her confidence-driven brand, resolves to make things right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. And when the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.”
Title: The Prophets
Author: Robert Jones Jr.
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 378
Synopsis: “Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of sanctuary, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man – a fellow slave – seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.
With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones Jr., fiercely summons the voices of slaver and enslaved alike. As tensions build and the weight of centuries – of ancestors and future generations to come – culminates in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.”
Title: The Last Children of Tokyo
Author: Yoko Tawada
Publisher: Granta Books
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 138
Synopsis: “Yoshiro thinks he might never die.
A hundred years old and counting, he is one of Japan’s many ‘old-elderly’; men and women who remember a time before air and sea were poisoned, before terrible catastrophe prompted Japan to shut itself off from the rest of the world. Yoshiro may live for decades yet, but he knows his beloved great-grandson – born frail and prone to sickness – might not survive to adulthood. Day after day, it takes all of Yoshiro’s ingenuity to keep Mumei alive.
As hopes for Japan’s youngest generation fade, a secretive organisation embarks on an audacious plan to find a cure – might Yoshiro’s great-grandson be the key to saving the last children of Tokyo?”
Author: Nadia Owusu
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 295
Synopsis: “Young Nadia Owusu follower her father, a United Nations official, from Europe to Africa and back again. Just as she and her family settled into a new home, her father would tell them it was time to say their goodbye. Their instability wrought by Nadia’s nomadic childhood was deepened by family secrets and fractures, both lived and inherited. Her Armenian American mother, who abandoned Nadia when she was two, would periodically reappear, only to vanish again. Her father, a Ghanaian, the great hero of her life, died when she was thirteen. After his passing, Nadia’s stepmother weighed her down with a revelation that was either a bombshell secret or a life, rife with shaming innuendo.
With these and other ruptures, Nadia arrived in New York as a young woman feeling stateless, motherless, and uncertain about her future, yet eager to find her own identity. What followed, however, were periods of depression in which she struggled to hold herself and her siblings together.
Aftershocks is the way she hauled herself from the wreckage of her life’s perpetual quaking, the means by which she has finally come to understand that they only ground firm enough to count on is the one written into existence by her own hand.
Heralding a dazzling new writer, Aftershocks joins the likes of William Styron’s Darkness Visible and Esme Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenia, and does for race identity what Maggie Nelson does for gender identity in The Argonauts.“
Title: Homeland Elegies
Author: Ayad Akhtar
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publishing Date: May 2021
No. of Pages: 343
Synopsis: “A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at tis heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.
Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation’s unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one – least of all himself – in the process.”
Title: Night Boat to Tangier
Author: Kevin Barry
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publishing Date: July 2020
No. of Pages: 255
Synopsis: “In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algericas, two aging Irishmen – Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs – sit at night, none too patiently. The pair are trying to locate Maurice’s estranged daughter, Dilly, whom they’ve heard is either arriving on a boat coming from Tangier or departing on one heading there.
This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals, and serial exiles. Rendered with the dark humor and the hard-boiled Hibernian lyricism that have made Kevin Barry one of the most striking and admired fictions writers at work today, Night Boat to Tangier is a superbly melancholic melody of a novel, full of beautiful phrases and terrible men.”
Title: The Four Winds
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 448
Synopsis: “Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage was a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruins, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.
By 1934, the world has changed: Millions are out of work, and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farms is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.
In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa – like so many of her neighbors – must make an agonizing choice: Fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.
The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it – the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eys of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.”
Title: The Beekeeper of Aleppo
Author: Christy Lefteri
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 307
Synopsis: “Every morning, Nuri the beekeeper rises early to hear the call to prayer before driving to his hives in the countryside. On weekends, his wife Afra, a gifted artist, sells her paintings at the open-air market in the square. They live simply, rich in family and friends, in the hills of the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they love is destroyed by war, Nuri knows they have no choice except to leave their home. But escaping Syria will be no easy task: Afra has lost her sight, leaving Nuri to navigate her grief as well as a perilous journey toward an uncertain future in Britain.
Moving, intimate, and beautifully written, this is a story for our times: It reminds us that our lives can be upended instantly – and brings a journey in faraway lands close to home, never to be forgotten.”
Title: The Garden of Evening Mists
Author: Tan Twan Eng
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 332
Synopsis: “Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice “until the monsoon comes.” Then she can design a garden for herself.
As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?”
Title: No One is Talking About This
Author: Patricia Lockwood
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 208
Synopsis: “As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman known for her viral social media posts travels the world speaking to her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms “the portal,” where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts. When existential threads – from climate change to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness – begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal’s void. “Are we in hell?” the people of the portal ask themselves. “Are we all just going to keep doing this till we die?”
Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: “Something has gone wrong,” and “How soon can you get here?” As real life and its stakes collide with the increasingly absurd antics of the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of poof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary. No One is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection.”