Staff Pick

Ben Lerner is one of the smartest and most ambitious authors working today. His novel The Topeka School (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27), like his previous 10:04 and Leaving the Atocha Station, is a semiautobiographical, metafictional narrative, this time following Adam Gordon, a senior in a Topeka, Kansas, high school and, like the author, a nationally ranked debater, an aspiring poet, and a young man coming to grips with his role in a society imbued with toxic masculinity. Adam’s father is a psychiatrist specializing in treatments for “lost boys,” and his mother is a famous feminist author. The story is told through the alternating perspectives of this family, as well as that of Darren Eberheart, a violence-prone loner at the high school and one of the father’s “lost boys.” This is another Lerner novel about language; we watch as Adam’s speech evolves through spreading an opponent’s arguments in policy debate, engaging in freestyle rap battles with his classmates, and following the free association of memories that surface in therapy. This is also a look at childhood, and at the heartland of America and how the country has morphed along with the language into the current political atmosphere. Lerner’s latest work is brilliant, poetic, and introspective.

The Topeka School: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374277789
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 1st, 2019

Staff Pick

Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise (Holt, $27) is a novel that ideally requires a clear schedule and a close friend to read along with—it demands your time and attention, and absolutely deserves it. Trust Exercise, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, follows a group of students at a competitive performing arts high school as they move from adolescence to adulthood. There are rivalries, complicated power dynamics, questionable teaching ethics, teenage lust, and a particularly unruly group of British actors. It feels appropriate that the novel is split into two halves, as the overall story is primarily concerned with dualities: on-stage versus off-stage personas, exterior versus interior lives, artifice versus vulnerability. But Choi deftly takes apart those dualities and the result is an incredibly satisfying reading experience, filled with turns and reexaminations. Trust Exercise is a singular book from a master storyteller.

Trust Exercise: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781250309884
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - April 9th, 2019

Staff Pick

Sally Rooney's newest novel, Normal People (Hogarth, $26) is the delightfully frustrating story of Marianne and Connell, entrenched in a complicated relationship full of miscommunication over the course of four years. Rooney gracefully explores how our emotions age and mature with us in a modern coming-of-age story; but also present in the novel is astute observation of how class and social hierarchy inevitably intertwine with our relationships. Her language is deft and precise, her psychological insight unnerving, and her characters realistically complex and imperfect. She strikes us with her subtlety, but her intelligence remains an obvious presence on every page. Although Rooney has been dubbed the “millennial novelist,” this fiction can appeal to nearly anyone hungering for a rich, character-driven story about the irrevocable effects of intimacy and young love.

Normal People: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781984822178
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Hogarth - April 16th, 2019

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