Staff Pick

Starting with a family in the middle of a meltdown, The Mortifications (Tim Duggan, $27) charts a contemporary odyssey. Set in the early 1980s, Derek Palacio’s remarkable debut novel starts with a Cuban mother and her twins fleeing their home as part of the Mariel boat-lift. Soledad leaves the children’s father behind; still committed to the revolution, he has little to live on but his ideals. The narrative, at least at first, focuses on the emigrants’ life in Connecticut, though Cuba is never far from the characters’ minds, and gradually gains full depth and color. But the novel is most impressive for Palacio’s keen psychological insight. With a rare emotional intuition, he reveals his characters’ deepest motivations in ways so clear and sharp, it’s almost shocking how far he can see. Yet these motives make complete sense, as you realize when one twin, Ulises, takes up the life of a tobacco farmer, and the other, Isabel, pursues a life of spirituality. Via these different paths, the family eventually travels full-circle, returning to Cuba, but, as is the way of myth, undergoing a metamorphosis in the process.

The Mortifications: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781101905692
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Tim Duggan Books - October 4th, 2016

The Mortifications: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101905715
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tim Duggan Books - August 22nd, 2017

Staff Pick

Emma Cline is only in her twenties and The Girls (Random House, $27) is her first novel, but it’s a very impressive beginning. Set in the Bay Area in the late 1960s, the story centers on a disaffected teenage girl growing up in the exurbs with distracted, self-absorbed, divorced parents. Bored and aimless, she finally achieves a sense of belonging when she’s invited to join a cultish group living on a nearby ranch with a narcissistic male leader. As events unfold, it becomes clear that this fictional account is based on Charles Manson and his followers, with cameos by other recognizable figures of that era. While the Manson story is well known, what makes the book so good is Cline’s uncanny grasp of time and place, and her ability to explore the psychology of a desperate young person who wants to do the right thing but struggles to find her own path. A coming-of-age story that speaks to every generation in both its specificity and universality.

The Girls: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780812998603
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - June 14th, 2016

The Girls: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812988024
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - May 9th, 2017

Staff Pick

In Sweetbitter (Knopf, $25), debut novelist Stephanie Danler draws on her real life experience at two fashionable New York restaurants to produce a vivid and entertaining look at the people, attitudes, and conditions that make upscale restaurant work alluring – intoxicating! – and also crazily oppressive. She has a sharp edge when describing the characters who populate her story, and a plot that dances quickly through the appetizers and main courses, much like one feels reading a menu. Danler also has a sensuous touch when writing about the food itself – you will get hungry reading this book – and like any good chef (or in her case, back waiter) she knows when to add dollops of heavy cream and when a dash of spice will suffice. A first-rate novel about food—and much more.

Sweetbitter: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101875940
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf - May 24th, 2016

Sweetbitter (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101911860
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - April 4th, 2017

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