Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News - Kevin Young

Staff Pick

As Kevin Young says in Bunk (Graywolf, $30), and as everyone is now all too aware, we are living in a “golden age of the hoax: the supposed age of information.” But this book is much more than a treatise on the “fake news” in the subtitle. It covers centuries of fakery, cataloged with a sense for detail and implication that showcases Young’s literary gifts—he’s a poet and critic who currently serves as poetry editor for The New Yorker. His stylistic flair only adds to the meaning of the book: thorough historical treatments on the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, P. T. Barnum’s freak shows, and “caught on film” fairies all forecast some very evidently personal treatments of contemporary hoaxers like Lance Armstrong, JT LeRoy, and Rachel Dolezal. This is a maximalist approach that takes on some deeply provocative recurring threads: namely, how racial hierarchies creep up as the unspoken root of so many hoaxes, and what separates artifice that’s presented as fiction or satire from something that’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes, no matter how benign and inventive it might seem. This is the kind of mammoth book you might never get to the bottom of, and that’s why it already feels like a landmark that will be studied for years. 

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News By Kevin Young Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977917
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Graywolf Press - November 14th, 2017

A Colony in a Nation - Chris Hayes

Staff Pick

Chris Hayes’s popular first book five years ago, Twilight of the Elites, took America’s meritocracy to task for a failure of leadership that has resulted in our institutional dysfunction and crisis of authority. That argument seems more relevant today than ever. In A Colony in a Nation (W.W. Norton, $26.95), Hayes, host of a news and opinion show on MSNBC, expands the discussion of America’s widening inequality gap begun in his earlier work. He focuses this time on law and order, making a persuasive case that our criminal justice system treats whites and blacks very differently. With characteristic passion and intelligence, Hayes delivers a timely appeal for much greater social justice. “An eye-opening look,” said one online reviewer. “Scholarly yet engrossing,” said another. “A book for our time,” said a third.

A Colony in a Nation By Chris Hayes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393254228
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 21st, 2017

The Origin of Others - Toni Morrison

Staff Pick

When I heard Toni Morrison was releasing a book with an introduction by Ta-Nehisi Coates this year, I was elated. The Origin of Others (Harvard, $22.95) gathers the Nobel laureate’s 2016 Norton lectures, in which Morrison discusses what it means to be considered the other in America. Focusing on race, she highlights how those who are not considered white must remain the “other” in order for racial hierarchies to stay intact. Realizing what this means comes by recognizing that we must deny parts of ourselves in order to make people we consider strangers to be just that —strangers. In order to analyze the many ways culture creates and reflects otherness, Morrison uses history, Southern literature, and personal anecdotes to illustrate her theory. Her lectures give an overview of many of her own novels, and readers will be inspired to read or reread them, along with those of the many writers Morrison presents.

The Origin of Others (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures #56) By Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780674976450
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harvard University Press - September 18th, 2017