A literature book recommendation: Someone You Love Is Gone: A Novel by Gurjinder Basran

A critic review (source Toronto Star) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DpSXdl.
Although epic in scope, Someone You Love is Gone is economically and poetically written. Playing with time and place, it serves up a rich narrative with a cultural and generation-crossing protagonist supported by a cast of equally compelling characters.
Book description from Google Books:
“A beautiful, haunting story of one family, spanning generations and continents, as they face life’s inevitable losses, struggle with grief and reach for redemption.”—Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden SonPerfect for readers of Jhumpa Lahiri and Anne Tyler, Someone You Love Is Gone is a beautifully rendered, multi-generational story of secrets and ghosts that haunt a family.I sit at the table and forget myself for a moment and the past steps forward. The house is as it was before Father died, and even before that, before Diwa left and before Jyoti was born. The house had a different light then or perhaps that’s just memory casting a glow on everything, candlelight and sunset, everything only slightly visible. Mother is in the kitchen, washing the dinner dishes. Steam is rising and the window in front of her fogs over her reflection. Even here, she is a ghost. Simran’s mother has died but is not gone. Haunted by her mother’s spirit and memories of the past, she struggles to make sense of her world. Faced with disillusion in her marriage, growing distance from her daughter and sister, and the return of her long-estranged brother, she is troubled by questions to which she has no answers. As the life Simran has carefully constructed unravels, she must confront the truth of why her brother was separated from the family at a young age, and in doing so she uncovers an ancestral inheritance that changes everything. She allows her grief to transform her life, but in ways that ultimately give her the deep sense of self she has been craving, discovering along the way family secrets that cross continents, generations, and even lifetimes. Gurjinder Basran’s mesmerizingly beautiful novel, Someone You Love Is Gone, is a powerful exploration of loss and love, memory and history, family ties and family secrets, and the thin veil between this life and the next. 
The book is rated 3.84/5 at goodreads.com, from 200 ratings. See 42 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CUiOZJ.
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A literature book recommendation: Galaxy Love: Poems by Gerald Stern

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2E1jBt8.
For decades, and in every overcaffeinated and rumbustious line, Gerald Stern has been telling us that the best way to live is not so much for poetry but through poetry, and he underlines that idea here again in “Galaxy Love.” I believe him.
Book description from Google Books:
The poems in this new volume by the winner of the National Book Award span countries and centuries, reflecting on memory, aging, history, and mortality. “Hamlet Naked” traverses Manhattan in the 1960s from a Shakespeare play on 47th Street to the cellar of a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village; “Thieves and Murderers” encompasses musings of the medieval French poet Francois Villon and Dwight Eisenhower; “Orson” recounts a meeting of the poet and Orson Welles, exiled in Paris. Gerald Stern recalls old cars he used to drive–“the 1950 Buick / with the small steering wheel / and the cigar lighter in the back seat”–as well as intimate portraits of his daily life “and the mussel-pooled and the heron-priested shore” of Florida. These are wistful, generous, lively love poems and elegies that capture the passage of time, the joys of a sensual life, and remembrances of the past.
The book is rated 3.44/5 at goodreads.com, from 16 ratings. See 4 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2Dtrk29.
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A literature book recommendation: Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2CV2doF.
If Handy is not always ambitious or thorough, he puts extraordinary care into replicating and preserving those feelings. “Myself, I wouldn’t eat a Sendak,” he writes, “but I honor the gesture.”
Book description from Google Books:
An irresistible, nostalgic, insightful—and totally original—ramble through classic children’s literature from Vanity Fair contributing editor (and father) Bruce Handy. “Consistently intelligent and funny…The book succeeds wonderfully.” —The New York Times Book Review “A delightful excursion…Engaging and full of genuine feeling.” —The Wall Street Journal “Pure pleasure.” —Vanity Fair “Witty and engaging…Deeply satisfying.” —Christian Science MonitorIn 1690, the dour New England Primer, thought to be the first American children’s book, was published in Boston. Offering children gems of advice such as “Strive to learn” and “Be not a dunce,” it was no fun at all. So how did we get from there to “Let the wild rumpus start”? And now that we’re living in a golden age of children’s literature, what can adults get out of reading Where the Wild Things Are and Goodnight Moon, or Charlotte’s Web and Little House on the Prairie? In Wild Things, Bruce Handy revisits the classics of American childhood, from fairy tales to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and explores the backstories of their creators, using context and biography to understand how some of the most insightful, creative, and witty authors and illustrators of their times created their often deeply personal masterpieces. Along the way, Handy learns what The Cat in the Hat says about anarchy and absentee parenting, which themes link The Runaway Bunny and Portnoy’s Complaint, and why Ramona Quimby is as true an American icon as Tom Sawyer or Jay Gatsby. It’s a profound, eye-opening experience to reencounter books that you once treasured after decades apart. A clear-eyed love letter to the greatest children’s books and authors, from Louisa May Alcott and L. Frank Baum to Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Mildred D. Taylor, and E.B. White, Wild Things will bring back fond memories for readers of all ages, along with a few surprises.
The book is rated 3.77/5 at goodreads.com, from 603 ratings. See 168 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DjPEnP.
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A literature book recommendation: WHEREAS: Poems by Layli Long Soldier

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2DMKMI9.
Long Soldier’s emphasis on typography doesn’t mean she ignores prosody. She describes her newborn daughter’s eyes as “untied from northern poles from/ hard unseen winter months.” Her moving poems about motherhood are not anomalies in this deeply political text.
Book description from Google Books:
Finalist for the National Book Award for PoetryWHEREAS her birth signaled the responsibility as mother to teach what it is to be Lakota therein the question: What did I know about being Lakota? Signaled panic, blood rush my embarrassment. What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces? Until a friend comforted, Don’t worry, you and your daughter will learn together. Today she stood sunlight on her shoulders lean and straight to share a song in Diné, her father’s language. To sing she motions simultaneously with her hands; I watch her be in multiple musics.—from “WHEREAS Statements”WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This strident, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.
The book is rated 4.37/5 at goodreads.com, from 487 ratings. See 99 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DOyEq0.
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A literature book recommendation: All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DqWN66.
Cole’s awakening is predictable, but the story leading up to that moment is anything but. Handler, otherwise known as Lemony Snicket, delves deep into the mind of an adolescent boy and it ain’t pretty.
Book description from Google Books:
From bestselling, award-winning author Daniel Handler, a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man.Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches, he jokes around with friends. But none of this quite matters next to the allure of sex. “Let me put it this way,” he says. “Draw a number line, with zero is you never think about sex and ten is, it’s all you think about, and while you are drawing the line, I am thinking about sex.”Cole fantasizes about whomever he’s looking at. He consumes and shares pornography. And he sleeps with a lot of girls, which is beginning to earn him a not-quite-savory reputation around school. This leaves him adrift with only his best friend for company, and then something startling starts to happen between them that might be what he’s been after all this time—and then he meets Grisaille.All the Dirty Parts is an unblinking take on teenage desire in a culture of unrelenting explicitness and shunted communication, where sex feels like love, but no one knows what love feels like. With short chapters in the style of Jenny Offill or Mary Robison, Daniel Handler gives us a tender, brutal, funny, intoxicating portrait of an age when the lens of sex tilts the world. “There are love stories galore,” Cole tells us, “This isn’t that. The story I’m typing is all the dirty parts.”
The book is rated 3.20/5 at goodreads.com, from 1148 ratings. See 307 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DoxcdJ.
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A literature book recommendation: The Dark Dark: Stories by Samantha Hunt

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2DxlTyJ.
Hunt is the master of the lovely and strange tableaux vivant…The Dark Dark hits it stride with its longer and more peculiar offerings…
Book description from Google Books:
A Best Book of the Year: NPR, Vogue, The Huffington Post, The Chicago Review of Books, The National Post, Electric Literature, Kirkus“Wields such a subtle and alien power . . . Wonderfully spooky.” —Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker”A feminist manifesto threaded through imaginative fiction; it’s the most evocative, impressive collection I’ve read this year.” —Daniel Johnson, The Paris ReviewFrom the acclaimed author of Mr. Splitfoot, Samantha Hunt’s first collection of stories, The Dark Dark, blends the literary and the fantastic and brings us characters on the verge—girls turning into women, women turning into deer, people doubling or becoming ghosts, and moreStep into The Dark Dark, where an award-winning, acclaimed novelist debuts her first collection of short stories and conjures entire universes in just a few pages—conjures, splits in half, mines for humor, destroys with absurdity, and regenerates. In prose that sparkles and haunts, Samantha Hunt playfully pushes the bounds of the expected and fills every corner with vibrant life, imagining numerous ways in which the weird might poke its way through the mundane. Each of these ten haunting, inventive tales brings us to the brink—of creation, mortality and immortality, infidelity and transformation, technological innovation and historical revision, loneliness and communion, and every kind of love.Laced with lyricism, hope, Hunt’s characteristic sly wit, and her unflinching gaze into the ordinary horrors of human existence, The Dark Dark celebrates the mysteries and connections that swirl around us. It’s never all the same, Hunt tells us. It changes a tiny bit every time. See for yourself.
The book is rated 3.75/5 at goodreads.com, from 772 ratings. See 132 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DwYoG7.
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A literature book recommendation: The Golden House: A Novel by Salman Rushdie

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2Dqe3IG.
Rushdie has always been an impish myth-manipulator, refusing to accept, as in this novel, that the lives of the emperors can’t be blended with film noir, popular culture and crime caper. On the evidence of The Golden House, he is quite right.
Book description from Google Books:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A modern American epic set against the panorama of contemporary politics and culture–a hurtling, page-turning mystery that is equal parts The Great Gatsby and The Bonfire of the Vanities On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire from foreign shores takes up residence in the architectural jewel of “the Gardens,” a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble within a bubble, and the residents are immediately intrigued by the eccentric newcomer and his family. Along with his improbable name, untraceable accent, and unmistakable whiff of danger, Nero Golden has brought along his three adult sons: agoraphobic, alcoholic Petya, a brilliant recluse with a tortured mind; Apu, the flamboyant artist, sexually and spiritually omnivorous, famous on twenty blocks; and D, at twenty-two the baby of the family, harboring an explosive secret even from himself. There is no mother, no wife; at least not until Vasilisa, a sleek Russian expat, snags the septuagenarian Nero, becoming the queen to his king–a queen in want of an heir. Our guide to the Goldens’ world is their neighbor Ren�, an ambitious young filmmaker. Researching a movie about the Goldens, he ingratiates himself into their household. Seduced by their mystique, he is inevitably implicated in their quarrels, their infidelities, and, indeed, their crimes. Meanwhile, like a bad joke, a certain comic-book villain embarks upon a crass presidential run that turns New York upside-down. Set against the strange and exuberant backdrop of current American culture and politics, The Golden House also marks Salman Rushdie’s triumphant and exciting return to realism. The result is a modern epic of love and terrorism, loss and reinvention–a powerful, timely story told with the daring and panache that make Salman Rushdie a force of light in our dark new age. Praise for The Golden House “If you read a lot of fiction, you know that every once in a while you stumble upon a book that transports you, telling a story full of wonder and leaving you marveling at how it ever came out of the author’s head. The Golden House is one of those books. . . . [It] tackles more than a handful of universal truths while feeling wholly original.”–The Associated Press “The Golden House . . . ranks among Rushdie’s most ambitious and provocative books [and] displays the quicksilver wit and playful storytelling of Rushdie’s best work.”–USA Today “[The Golden House] is a recognizably Rushdie novel in its playfulness, its verbal jousting, its audacious bravado, its unapologetic erudition, and its sheer, dazzling brilliance.”–The Boston Globe
The book is rated 3.68/5 at goodreads.com, from 2478 ratings. See 606 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DrZp3H.
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A literature book recommendation: WHEREAS: Poems by Layli Long Soldier

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2DMKMI9.
Long Soldier’s emphasis on typography doesn’t mean she ignores prosody. She describes her newborn daughter’s eyes as “untied from northern poles from/ hard unseen winter months.” Her moving poems about motherhood are not anomalies in this deeply political text.
Book description from Google Books:
Finalist for the National Book Award for PoetryWHEREAS her birth signaled the responsibility as mother to teach what it is to be Lakota therein the question: What did I know about being Lakota? Signaled panic, blood rush my embarrassment. What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces? Until a friend comforted, Don’t worry, you and your daughter will learn together. Today she stood sunlight on her shoulders lean and straight to share a song in Diné, her father’s language. To sing she motions simultaneously with her hands; I watch her be in multiple musics.—from “WHEREAS Statements”WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This strident, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.
The book is rated 4.37/5 at goodreads.com, from 483 ratings. See 98 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DOyEq0.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DjxBxs.

A literature book recommendation: Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2DuV2EE.
“Sing, Unburied, Sing,” the story of a few days in the lives of a tumultuous Mississippi Gulf Coast family and the histories and ghosts that haunt it, is nothing short of magnificent.
Book description from Google Books:
*WINNER of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD for FICTION *A TIME MAGAZINE BEST NOVEL OF THE YEAR and A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 OF 2017 *Finalist for the Kirkus Prize *Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal *Publishers Weekly Top 10 of 2017 “The heart of Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing is story—the yearning for a narrative to help us understand ourselves, the pain of the gaps we’ll never fill, the truths that are failed by words and must be translated through ritual and song…Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief, and love, and this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it.” —BuzzfeedIn Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi’s past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power—and limitations—of family bonds. Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager. His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children’s father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances. When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an unforgettable family story.
The book is rated 4.15/5 at goodreads.com, from 15483 ratings. See 2642 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2D1JNmj.
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Google Books preview available in full post.

A literature book recommendation: Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2DCxPAv.
The professed goal of Knausgaard’s book is to answer a question that neither babies nor jellyfish are capable of asking: “What makes life worth living?” His partial reply: “Showing you the world, little one, makes my life worth living.” Sweet, but not enough to incline me toward the next three seasons of this quartet.
Book description from Google Books:
The New York Times bestseller. “This book is full of wonders…Loose teeth, chewing gum, it all becomes noble, almost holy, under Knausgaard’s patient, admiring gaze. The world feels repainted.” –The New York Times From the author of the monumental My Struggle series, Karl Ove Knausgaard, one of the masters of contemporary literature and a genius of observation and introspection, comes the first in a new autobiographical quartet based on the four seasons. 28 August. Now, as I write this, you know nothing about anything, about what awaits you, the kind of world you will be born into. And I know nothing about you… I want to show you our world as it is now: the door, the floor, the water tap and the sink, the garden chair close to the wall beneath the kitchen window, the sun, the water, the trees. You will come to see it in your own way, you will experience things for yourself and live a life of your own, so of course it is primarily for my own sake that I am doing this: showing you the world, little one, makes my life worth living. Autumn begins with a letter Karl Ove Knausgaard writes to his unborn daughter, showing her what to expect of the world. He writes one short piece per day, describing the material and natural world with the precision and mesmerising intensity that have become his trademark. He describes with acute sensitivity daily life with his wife and children in rural Sweden, drawing upon memories of his own childhood to give an inimitably tender perspective on the precious and unique bond between parent and child. The sun, wasps, jellyfish, eyes, lice–the stuff of everyday life is the fodder for his art. Nothing is too small or too vast to escape his attention. This beautifully illustrated book is a personal encyclopaedia on everything from chewing gum to the stars. Through close observation of the objects and phenomena around him, Knausgaard shows us how vast, unknowable and wondrous the world is.
The book is rated 3.70/5 at goodreads.com, from 1740 ratings. See 250 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CbjHgi.
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