Reviews

The 10 Best Books to Read This September

September 2016 is packed with highly anticipated books from big names. But you already knew about those books. Here are the 10 best books to read this September that might not be on your radar yet.

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September 2016 is packed with highly anticipated books from big names. Alan Moore’s first novel in 20 years, Jerusalem, clocks in at over 1,200 pages and is being marketed as “the tale of everything, told from a vanished gutter.” Ann Patchett’s seventh novel, Commonwealth, tells the story of a Southern California family over five decades. Matt Bell’s new collection of short stories, A Tree or a Person or a Wall, promises to melt your brain. But you already knew about those books. Here are the 10 best books to read this September that might not be on your radar yet.


9780802125750_49e57Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler
Atlantic Monthly, September 6

“From one of America’s most important writers, Perfume River is an exquisite novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.”

“Robert Quinlan is a seventy-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee and solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. Robert and Jimmy’s father, a veteran of WWII, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across their lives once again, when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father’s bedside. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.”


9781477311134_73bb8We Could Not Fail by Richard Paul and Steven Moss
University of Texas Press, September 6

“The Space Age began just as the struggle for civil rights forced Americans to confront the long and bitter legacy of slavery, discrimination, and violence against African Americans. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson utilized the space program as an agent for social change, using federal equal employment opportunity laws to open workplaces at NASA and NASA contractors to African Americans while creating thousands of research and technology jobs in the Deep South to ameliorate poverty. We Could Not Fail tells the inspiring, largely unknown story of how shooting for the stars helped to overcome segregation on earth.”

“Richard Paul and Steven Moss profile ten pioneer African American space workers whose stories illustrate the role NASA and the space program played in promoting civil rights. They recount how these technicians, mathematicians, engineers, and an astronaut candidate surmounted barriers to move, in some cases literally, from the cotton fields to the launching pad. The authors vividly describe what it was like to be the sole African American in a NASA work group and how these brave and determined men also helped to transform Southern society by integrating colleges, patenting new inventions, holding elective office, and reviving and governing defunct towns. Adding new names to the roster of civil rights heroes and a new chapter to the story of space exploration, We Could Not Fail demonstrates how African Americans broke the color barrier by competing successfully at the highest level of American intellectual and technological achievement.”


9781506700632_97656Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood and Johnnie Christmas
Dark Horse Books, September 6

“Lauded novelist Margaret Atwood and acclaimed artist Johnnie Christmas collaborate on one of the most highly anticipated comic book and literary events of the year.”

“On a dark night, young genetic engineer Strig Feleedus is accidentally mutated by his own experiment and merges with the DNA of a cat and an owl. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired superhero adventure—with a lot of cat puns.”


9781566894463_f8d4fThe Revolutionaries Try Again by Mauro Javier Cardenas
Coffee House Press, September 6

“Three childhood friends reunite to transform Ecuador only find their idealism has succumbed to the cynicism of their fathers.”

“Extravagant, absurd, and self-aware, The Revolutionaries Try Again plays out against the lost decade of Ecuador’s austerity and the stymied idealism of three childhood friends—an expat, a bureaucrat, and a playwright—who are as sure about the evils of dictatorship as they are unsure of everything else, including each other.”

Everyone thinks they’re the chosen ones, Masha wrote on Antonio’s manuscript. See About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson. Then she quoted from Hope Against Hope by Nadezhda Mandelstam, because she was sure Antonio hadn’t read her yet: Can a man really be held accountable for his own actions? His behavior, even his character, is always in the merciless grip of the age, which squeezes out of him the drop of good or evil that it needs from him. In San Francisco, besides the accumulation of wealth, what does the age ask of your so called protagonist? No wonder he never returns to Ecuador.


9781619027220_c4c94Every Kind of Wanting by Gina Frangello (*Chicago author, Chicago setting*)
Counterpoint Press, September 13

Every Kind of Wanting explores the complex intersection of three unique families and their bustling efforts to have a “Community Baby.” Miguel could not be more different from his partner Chad, a happy-go-lucky real estate mogul from Chicago’s wealthy North Shore. When Chad’s sister, Gretchen offers the couple an egg, their search for a surrogate leads them to Miguel’s old friend Emily, happily married to an eccentric Irish playwright, Nick, with whom she is raising two boys. Into this web falls Miguel’s sister Lina, a former addict and stripper, who begins a passionate affair with Nick while deciphering the mysteries of her past.”

“But every action these couples make has unforeseen consequences. As Lina faces her long-hidden demons, and the fragile friendships between Miguel and Chad and Nick and Emily begin to fray as the baby’s birth draws near, a shocking turn of events—and the secret Lina’s been hiding—threaten to break them apart forever.”

“By turns funny, dark and sexy, Every Kind of Wanting strips bare the layers of the American family today. Tackling issues such as assimilation, the legacy of secrets, the morality of desire, and ultimately who “owns” love, the characters—across all ethnicities, nationalities, and sexualities—are blisteringly alive.”


9781783608898_464e8Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy by Ece Temelkuran
Translated by Zeynep Beler
Zed Books, September 15

“Turkey is a nation of contradictions and contrasts. Though considered democratic, the Erdogan government has increasingly begun to resemble a dictatorship, jailing it opponents and violently suppressing dissent. And though Turkey is notionally secular, the Justice and Development Party’s power has fed the creeping influence of religious conservatism, with figures in the party denouncing abortion rights and attempting to criminalize adultery. Having long occupied an uneasy middle ground between a secular West and Islamic East, Turkey has been drawn into the conflicts of its neighbors, including the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, and the rise of ISIS. In this fascinating portrait of a nation in turmoil, the renowned Turkish journalist and novelist Ece Temelkuran provides a vivid and deeply personal account of the crisis afflicting modern Turkey.”

“Temelkuran identifies a long-running culture of repression and authoritarianism that has plagued Turkey throughout its history, a culture she traces back to the fall of the Ottomans and the continued climate of denial around the Armenian genocide. But, she firmly believes there is still a strong voice of dissent in Turkey, and she argues that the Gezi Park protests of 2013 represented a glimmer of hope that has not yet been fully extinguished and may still grow to rejuvenate democracy in the country. Providing unique insight into Turkey’s ongoing political turmoil, this is a timely look at a country that is caught at the center of many of the changes and much of the turmoil of the Middle East today.”


9780765393159_8354bThe Warren by Brian Evenson
Tor.com, September 20

“A human versus a thinks-he’s-human in the ultimate fight for survival.”

“X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one—or many—but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X.”

“He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be.”

“But when he discovers the existence of another—above ground, outside the protection of the Warren—X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.”


9781571311146_efb2cInto the Sun by Deni Ellis Béchard
Milkweed Editions, September 20

“When a car explodes in a crowded part of Kabul ten years after 9/11, a Japanese-American journalist is shocked to discover that the passengers were acquaintances—three fellow ex-pats who had formed an unlikely love triangle.”

“Alexandra was a human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women. Justin was a born-again Christian who taught at a local school. Clay was an ex-soldier who worked as a private contractor. The car’s driver, Idris, was one of Justin’s most promising pupils—and he is missing.”

“Drawn to the secrets of these strangers, and increasingly convinced the events that led to the fatal explosion weren’t random, the journalist follows a trail that leads from Kabul to Louisiana, Maine, Québec, and Dubai. In the process, the tortured narratives of these individuals become inseparable from the larger story of America’s imperial misadventures.”


9781612195797_2b47aThe Apostle Killer by Richard Beard
Melville House, September 20

“Set in a hazy Middle East that seems at once ancient and modern, The Apostle Killer features Gallio, an aging, hardboiled investigator who has one last chance to save his career: He’s got to prove Christ’s resurrection was a hoax.”

“To uncover the conspiracy behind the so-called resurrection, Gallio figures all he needs is for one of the apostles to crack. The only problem is that one by one, the apostles keep dying—and in ever more grotesque ways—just before Gallio gets to them.”

“Racing to save both his case and the witnesses he needs to solve it, Gallio begins to suspect he’s become the unwitting pawn in the plot to kill the apostles…but who’s behind it? And to what end? As Gallio realizes even his own superiors are not to be trusted, The Apostle Killer transforms from a dazzling literary experiment into a moving, haunting work of art.”


9780393293012_e3fb4Blood at the Root by Patrick Phillips
W. W. Norton, September 20

“A gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America.”

“Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn of the twentieth century was home to a large African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. Many black residents were poor sharecroppers, but others owned their own farms and the land on which they’d founded the county’s thriving black churches.”

“But then in September of 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. One man was dragged from a jail cell and lynched on the town square, two teenagers were hung after a one-day trial, and soon bands of white ‘night riders’ launched a coordinated campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. In the wake of the expulsions, whites harvested the crops and took over the livestock of their former neighbors, and quietly laid claim to ‘abandoned’ land. The charred ruins of homes and churches disappeared into the weeds, until the people and places of black Forsyth were forgotten.”

1 comment on “The 10 Best Books to Read This September

  1. Pingback: Shorties (Jonathan Safran Foer on His New Novel, Kristin Welchez of Dum Dum Girls and Kristin Kontrol Interviewed, and more) - Festival Gear

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