How far would you go for something you love? How much are you willing to wager if the object of your affection is a portrait of questionable lineage—layered with centuries of grime, snatched up at a broke aristocrat’s estate sale—that you’re convinced is a lost masterpiece?
A typical twentieth-century complaint: “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we do X?” If we can put boots on a heavenly body, why can’t the first few squares of toilet paper rip clean? Why can’t we stop M. Night Shyamalan from making movies?
Plenty of musicians write memoirs. A few publish poetry collections. But not many write novels aside from Rita Indiana, lead singer of the Dominican Republic’s Rita Indiana y Los Misterios. Fusing traditional merengue music with alternative rock, Indiana’s band is as fresh and original as her newly translated novel, Papi. Originally published in Spanish in 2005, the University of Chicago Press’s English release was translated by Achy Objeas, who also translated Junot Díaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Robert Morgan—the North Carolina poet and author of Gap Creek—adds “slave narrative” to his sub-genre toolkit with Chasing the North Star, his new historical novel from Algonquin Books. While his depiction of slavery isn’t grounded in the same realism as, say, 12 Years a Slave, and he too-often commits the narrative sin of convenience, it’s still a gorgeous book full of lush prose, compelling characters, and an epic journey across America ten years before the Civil War.
The brutal Middle Passage across the Atlantic is one of the most painful chapters in the history of forced African American migration. Thus Aracelis Girmay’s new poetry collection, The Black Maria—a haunting, blistering, vital examination of the African diaspora from 15th-century slave ships to Neil deGrasse Tyson—is a book of memories and seas.
There’s a fugitive hiding somewhere in the tiny rust-belt town of Lomath, Pennsylvania. The FBI wants to find him, and they’re not just, like, looking around. They’ve shut down every road in and out of town, turned off electricity and phone lines, and searched houses without warrants. Believe it or not, this is not everybody’s favorite thing.