Book Reviews: Jhumpa Lahiri, John Grisham, Anthony Bourdain, Sandra Boynton, Eric Jerome Dickey, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Mark Bittman, Ben Philippe, Annette Gordon-Reed, Glenn Frankel, Eric Carle
Here’s the lowdown on some recently released books worth reading.
‘Where’ by Jhumpa Lahiri
Alfred A. Knopf, fiction, $24
What is it about : An anonymous first-person narrator reveals tiny slices of her life over 46 very short chapters in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri’s meditative novel centering on a middle-aged woman who questions his place in the world.
The buzz: “This beautifully written portrait of a life in transit captures the hopes, frustrations and longings for solitude and remembrance,” writes Publishers Weekly. AP credits Lahiri “for stretching the form and creating something fresh”.
“Of course, I’ll be your black friend” by Ben Philippe
Harper Vivace, non-fiction, $16.99
What is it about : In this hilarious and biting essay, Ben Philippe recounts a life as a “black friend” in predominantly white spaces.
The buzz: “Philippe has created a funny and sometimes heartbreaking memoir of his experience as a black man,” writes Library Journal.
Ecco, documentary, $35
What is it about : A celebration of Anthony Bourdain, the late food and travel writer, whose experiences are collected in an entertaining travel guide highlighting his favorite places and also including essays from friends, family and colleagues.
The buzz: “This gloriously messy mix of offbeat observations and whirlwind ideas in a bottle will make you want to read, eat, and see the world like Bourdain did,” Publishers Weekly writes.
“Night in the Jungle” by Sandra Boynton
Workman Publishing, children’s board book, $7.95
What is it about : Sandra Boynton’s latest hardcover book for little ones, filled with animal sounds, rhythmic rhymes and simple yet striking illustrations – and it comes with two Yo-Yo Ma audio downloads.
The buzz: It lacks the manic energy and fast pace of some of Boynton’s best bedtime books, like “Barnyard Dance” and “But Not the Hippopotamus” – but don’t be surprised if your preschool demands, “Again!”
‘Animal, Vegetable, Undesirable’ by Mark Bittman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, non-fiction, $28
What is it about : A story of people and food – and the need for change, to take a closer look at agriculture’s links to such important issues as the environment, climate change, sustainability, working conditions and ‘l ‘income inequality, racism and immigration’. It also includes a few brief but illuminating pages explaining how and why the small town of Chicago overtook Cincinnati for meatpacking, became, in the words of Carl Sandburg, “the pork butcher for the world” and changed the way America ate.
The buzz: “He is wise not to dwell on the short-sighted ambition that got us here, but rather to offer an equally unbiased assessment of several failed attempts to right our mistakes,” writes The New York Times.
Dutton, fiction, $27
What is it about : The latest novel by Eric Jerome Dickey, who died in January, is about a black professor whose career is threatened when a white colleague threatens to claim he assaulted her.
The buzz: “This novel couldn’t be more timely as America and the world continue to grapple with the effects of racism on our society,” writes Black Girl Nerds.
Double day, fiction, $28.95
What is it about : John Grisham’s latest doesn’t feature a single courtroom scene. Set in the world of college basketball, it follows a 17-year-old playing on clay courts in South Sudan to the big moment in college basketball – who does not forget the fate of his family in the House.
The buzz: Built “to a climax that will leave readers in no doubt that this is a John Grisham novel,” writes the Associated Press.
“Freedom” by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Workman Publishing, fiction, $26.95
What is it about : The Whiting Award-winning author of ‘We Love You, Charlie Freeman’ returns with the story of a young black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, inspired by the life of one of the first female doctors black in the United States.
The buzz: “‘Libertie’ shines as a deeply moving portrait of two very different women and the tense but loving intertwining of their lives,” writes USA Today.
‘Double Plays and Double Crosses’ by Don Zminda
Rowman and Littlefield, nonfiction, $36
What is it about : Don Zminda, a Chicago native, former STATS LLC and author of other baseball history books, including a biography of Harry Caray and “Go-Go to Glory: The 1959 Chicago White Sox,” goes beyond the oft-told story of the 1919 “Black Sox scandal.”
The buzz: “Zminda exposes the full extent of corruption in Major League Baseball beyond what is generally known,” writes the Library Journal, attributing her “impeccable research and attention to detail to fans” and calling the book “ the unexpected missing link in the ever-fascinating story of the tainted 1919 World Series and the start of baseball’s recovery thereafter.
‘June 19th’ by Annette Gordon-Reed
Liveright, documentary, $15.95
What is it about : In a series of essays, historian Annette Gordon-Reed writes about the end of slavery, the role her native Texas played in it, the hardships endured by African Americans in the century that followed, and her own family history. Available Tuesday.
The buzz: Gordon-Reed shows “that historical understanding is a process, not an end point,” writes The New York Times.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, documentary, $30
What is it about : A detailed history of the Oscar-winning X-rated revolutionary from 1969 with Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight.
The buzz: “Frankel puts it all together with narrative verve, telling a propulsive story about creativity, commerce and loss,” writes USA Today.
Penguin Random House, non-fiction, $35
What is it about : An oversized volume that features over 60 color collage images by Eric Carle, one of children’s literature’s most beloved illustrators and perhaps most famous for “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. It includes personal photos, an essay from Carle’s longtime editor, and photos showing how he brings his collages to life. For ages 10 and up.
The buzz: “More than just an appreciation for his art,” writes Booklist.
Contributor: USA Today, Associated Press