Gifts for the literature lover:
By Rivka Galchen
FSG; 256 pages
In Rivka Galchen’s impressive and haunting debut novel Atmospheric Disturbances, psychiatrist Leo Leibenstein enters a new day only to find that his beloved wife Rema has been replaced by a cunning simulacrum, leading him to hook up with a former patient convinced he’s working on secret experiments for the Royal Academy of Meteorology and travel throughout Argentina searching for his lost wife. Galchen uses her formidable family background and professional experience to deliver a story in seductively straightforward prose questioning the complex and often obfuscated bounds of reality, science and love.
Sea of Poppies
By Amitav Ghosh
FSG; 528 pages
Ghosh’s ambitious novel Sea of Poppies is set in 19th century Calcutta at the height of the Opium Wars, right on one of the transport ships. Inside, the lives of a raja, opium farmer, convict, and religious visionary converge. Through Ghosh’s impeccable control and vivid description arise an unforgettable cast of characters traveling a serpentine plot that shows off a skill with language and imagery not often seen in today’s novels.
Salmonella Men on Planet Porno: Stories
by Yasutaka Tsutsui
Pantheon; 252 pages.
The title of popular Japanese author Yasutaka Tsutsui’s short-fiction collection presents an almost irresistible temptation to skip to the final, title story and seek out the scandal. Yes, there is an orgy. There are unusual animals (the penisparrow) and chaparrals of naughty fondleweed. The collection unabashedly romps in the sexual facets of modern humanity and culture. But Tsutsui’s work does so much more, sometimes brilliantly, often hilariously, always fantastically, never bound by reality or convention. Read more about this book here or here.
by Toni Morrison
Knopf; 176 pages
Set in the 17th century and attacking America’s foundation built on painful exploitation of Native Americans, African slaves, and indentured workers, Morrison’s latest novel A Mercy is a return to this Nobel Laureate’s unflinching narrative power. Expect swirling mists of events and characters, immersion in a range of uncomfortable and earnest emotions, and a story that grabs hold of you, wrings you through, and spits you out at the end, leaving you ready to go back for more.
Alberto Manguel’s new book The Library at Night is a vivaciously erudite justification for society’s inexorable efforts to collect, order and store information. Inspired by the library he built in his French home, he explores the myriad levels on which a library functions and how readers interact with and in them. It unfailingly underscores the viability and sustainability of reading, writing and ideas, and the sheer impracticality of dismissing books and libraries as obsolete relics. Book lovers will luxuriate in these earnest and impressively researched pages. Read more about this book here.