Some Books I Have Been Reading Lately

I am presently on a Susan Choi re-reading bender in preparation for this event (!!!!!!!!), to which you are invited, and if I do not vomit in awe and terror you can buy me a birthday drink afterward, or just say hello, or whatever. If you are not in New York you had ought to read all of Susan Choi's excellent novels yourself anyway; my favorite is American Woman, but her most recent, My Education, is characteristically stellar plus special bonus of hottest sex scenes in a book like pretty much ever.

But also:

Evie Wyld
All the Birds, Singing
240pp. Pantheon. 9780307907769

Jake Whyte is a solitary sheep farmer on a remote British island. Her only contact is with her dog, Dog, and her sheep (unnamed), and that's fine by her. But something is picking off her sheep one by one, and in the process triggering memories of a past she's worked hard to put behind her--for good reason. My bookseller friends Jenn and Molly talked this one up a storm, and for good reason--the writing is flawless, seamlessly moving between past and present, and Jake's voice is rendered in sentences so precise you want to eat them.

Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
This One Summer
320pp. First Second. 9781596437746

I had high expectations for genius cousin team Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's follow-up to the completely brilliant 2010 graphic novel Skim, and boy was I not disappointed. Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Island every summer since she was little, where she meets up with her summer-vacation friend Windy, hangs out on the beach, and forgets about the real world. But this summer is different: her parents won't stop fighting, the local teens have secrets of their own, and the gulf between Windy and Rose is growing wider. Jillian Tamaki's spare, evocative illustrations are the perfect counterpoint to Mariko Tamaki's sharp prose; the result is a haunting and beautiful story so vivid you can practically taste the Popsicles.

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History
363pp. Crossed Genres. 978-0-9913921-0-0

There's so much genius packed into this anthology, edited by Daniel José Older and Rose Fox--two of the hardest-working and smartest people on the Internet--that it's hard to know what to highlight. Sofia Samatar's showstopper of an opening story, "Ogres of East Africa," is worth the price of admission alone, but the collection is a nonstop parade of gems, featuring work by well-known writers like Kima Jones, Nnedi Okorafor, Victor Lavalle, and Tananarive Due, as well as a great many folks you'd do well to remember, because you're going to be hearing a lot more about them soon. Each story focuses on people whose lives have been pushed to the margins of history; this loose unifying theme ties the stories together without confining them and results in a body of work that sings. Wonderful and necessary.

And up next: A Bit of Difference, by Sefi Atta; The Witch's Boy, by Kelly Barnhill; An Illuminated Life: Belle da Costa Greene's Journey from Prejudice to Privilege, by Heidi Ardizzone (a biography of J.P. Morgan's personal librarian, a black woman who passed as white her entire life, charmed her way into the position, had a great many Glamorous Affairs, dressed like a movie star, and went on to become one of the most powerful women in the rare book world (!!!! I KNOW RIGHT)), and With My Dog-Eyes, by Hilda Hirst.