Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with science fiction as a teenager, thanks to the groundbreaking Mars trilogy about mankind’s centuries-long colonization of the red planet. His most recent novel, Aurora, about a generation ship tasked with investigating and colonizing the first exoplanet, made my year-end list of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2015.
More than 55 million Eastern Europeans migrated to America between 1846 and 1940, forever changing the landscapes of both continents. Tara Zahra, a history professor at the University of Chicago, unearths some fascinating revelations about this mass exodus in her new book, The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World, including the fact that 30-40% of the immigrants eventually returned to Europe.
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.
If you’d told me back on New Year’s Day that my favorite book of 2016 (in April, at least) would be a love story between an organ tuner and a mathematician, I would’ve balked. I hate math, for starters, and have never been able to appreciate Bach the way most people do.
Chicago is a city that loves stories, especially those about itself. But Chicago’s story is bigger than what can fit onto the bestseller lists and into gangster flicks. One small, independent publisher in town is building a catalog that tells the stories behind and beyond Chicago’s headlines. Sure, sure, Capone. It’s been done. For Emily Victorson, owner of Allium Press, bringing the everyday lives of people to the fore is the true Chicago way.
Enough digital ink has been spilled over the awfulness of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but allow me to add a drop of a different color. While most critics have focused on the lack of character motivation, the skimpy writing, the overwhelmingly complicated plot, the poor direction, the bland score, too much time devoted to setting up future features, and the overwhelming sense of gloom and cynicism, few have focused on the source material that led to this cinematic disaster and how this work became so poorly translated.
April started off with a bang thanks to AWP 2016 in Los Angeles, but you can keep celebrating independent and university presses all month long with these 10 fantastic books, most of which we’ll be covering here at the CHIRB via interviews and reviews. From magical realism to nonfiction, here are the best 10 books from independent presses this April, including their first lines.
This September, Gina Frangello’s new Chicago-based novel Every Kind of Wanting will be published by Counterpoint Press, and we’ve got an exclusive first look at the minimalist cover. It’s quite the contrast from The Rumpus Sunday editor’s last book, 2014’s A Life in Men.
Jo Marchant is no ordinary scientist, having written on everything from the future of genetic engineering to understanding archaeology for New Scientist, Nature, the Guardian, and Smithsonian. Last month, I spoke with Marchant about her most recent book, Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body, which provides an in-depth, eye-opening look at the mind-body connection.