Happy April Fool’s Day everyone! I can’t believe that we have already chalked up three months of 2022. I hope that the first quarter of the year has been kind to all of you. To bring March to a close, let me share my book haul. A part of my yearly resolution is that I would read more and buy less. However, I keep on failing, badly. But still, it is still too early to accept defeat. Who knows what the rest of the year holds right? Without more ado, here are the books I have received in March 2022.
Due to the volume of books I received during the month, I will be dividing this book haul post into two, with Part I featuring books published in 2021 and 2022.
Title: The Book of Mother
Author: Violaine Huisman
Translator: Leslie Camhi
Publishing Date: October 2021
No. of Pages: 211
Synopsis: A prizewinning tour de force when it was published in France, Violaine Huisman’s remarkable debut novel is about a daughter’s inextinguishable love for her magnetic, mercurial mother. Beautiful and charismatic, Catherine, or “Maman,” smokes too much, drives too fast, laughs too hard, and loves too extravagantly. During a joyful and chaotic childhood in Paris, her daughter Violaine wouldn’t have it any other way.
When Maman is hospitalized after a third divorce and a breakdown, everything changes. Violaine and her sister long for their mother’s return, yet, once she’s back, Maman’s violent mood swings and flagrant disregard for personal boundaries turn their home into an emotional minefield. As the story of Catherine’s own traumatic childhood and adolescence unfolds, an indelible portrait emerges of a mother as irresistible as she is impossible, as triumphant as she is transgressive.
With its fierce language, streak of dark humor, and stunning emotional courage, The Book of Mother is an exquisitely wrought story of a mother’s dizzying heights and devastating lows, and a daughter who must hold her memories close in order to let go, and live.
Author: Isabel Allende
Translator: Frances Riddle
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 319
Synopsis: Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family with five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.
Because of her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses everything and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling.
Violeta tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting times of devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life is shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and ultimately not one but two pandemics.
Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.
Title: Black Cake
Author: Charmaine Wilkerson
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 382
Synopsis: We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?
In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Baron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves.
Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever.
Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.
Title: Olga Dies Dreaming
Author: Xochitl Gozalez
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 369
Synopsis: A blazing talent debuts with the tale of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother, and Puerto Rican roots – all in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
It’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.
Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors, things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1 percent, but she can’t seem to find her own… until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.
Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.
Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream – all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.
Title: All My Rage
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 374
Synopsis: Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Clouds’ Ret Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.
Juniper, California. Now.
Salahuddin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until the Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.
Now Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him – and Juniper – forever.
When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth – and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.
From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness – one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.
Title: How High We Go In the Dark
Author: Sequoia Nagamatsu
Publisher: William Morrow
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 289
Synopsis: For Fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, a spellbinding and profoundly prescient debut that follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague – a daring and deeply heartfelt work of mind-bending imagination from a singular new voice.
In 20130, a grieving archaeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika Crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.
Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects – a pig – develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenage granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.
From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to the interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resilience of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.
Title: Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth
Author: Wole Soyinka
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 444
Synopsis: The first Black winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature gives us a tour de force, his first novel in nearly half a century: a savagely satiric, gleefully irreverent, rollicking fictional meditation on how power and greed can corrupt the soul of a nation.
In an imaginary Nigeria, a cunning entrepreneur is selling body parts stolen from Dr. Menka’s hospital for use in ritualistic practices. Dr. Menka shares the grisly news with his oldest college friend, bon viveur, star engineer, and Yoruba royal, Duyole Pitan-Payne. The life of every party, Duyole is about to assume a prestigious post at the United Nations in New York, but it now seems that someone is determined that he not make it there. And neither Menka nor Duyole knows why, or how close the enemy is, or how powerful.
Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is at once a literary hoot, a crafty whodunit, and a scathing indictment of political and social corruption. It is a stirring call to arms against the abuse of power from one of our fiercest political activists, who also happens to be a global literary giant.
Author: Jabari Asim
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: January 2022
No. of Pages: 255
Synopsis: The Water Dancer meets The Prophets in this spare, gripping, and beautifully rendered novel exploring love and friendship among a group of enslaved black strivers in the mid-nineteenth century.
They call themselves the stolen. Their owners call them captives. They are taught their captors’ tongues and their beliefs but they have a language and rituals all their own.
In a world that would be allegorical if it weren’t saturated in harsh truths, Cato and William meet at Placid Hall, a plantation in an unspecified part of the American South. Subject to the whims of their tyrannical and eccentric captor, Cannonball Greene, they never know what harm may befall them: inhumane physical toil in the plantation’s quarry by day, a beating by night, or the sale of a loved one at any moment. It’s a cruel practice – the wanton destruction of love, the belief that Black people aren’t even capable of loving – that hurts the most.
It hurts the reserved and stubborn William, who finds himself falling for Margaret, a small but mighty woman with self-possession beyond her years. And it hurts Cato, whose first love, Iris, was sold off with no forewarning. He now finds solace in his hearty band of friends, including William, who is like a brother to him; Margaret; Little Zander; and Milton, a gifted artist. There is also Pandora, with thick braids and long limbs, whose beauty calls to him.
Their relationships begin to fray when a visiting minister with a mysterious past starts to fill their heads with ideas about independence. He tells them that with freedom comes the right to choose the small things – when to dine, when to begin and end work – as well as the big things, such as whom and how to love. Do they follow the preacher and pursue the unknown? Confined in a landscape marked by deceit and uncertainty, whom can they trust?
In an elegant work of monumental imagination that will reorient how we think of the legacy of America’s shameful past, Jabari Asim presents a beautiful, powerful, and elegiac novel that examines intimacy and longing in the private quarters of the enslaved while asking a vital question: What would happen if an enslaved person risked everything for love?