monthly fiction preview

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in April 2021

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri 
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Interpreter of Maladies (1999), The Namesake (2003) and The Lowland (2013) returns with her first novel written in her adopted language of Italian and translated by herself into English. Whereabouts traces the daily life of a single woman living in an unnamed Italian city. “The novel is told in short vignettes introducing a new scene and characters whose relationships are fertile ground for Lahiri’s impressive powers of observation... Throughout, Lahiri’s poetic flourishes and spare, conversational prose are on full display.” (Publishers Weekly)  
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Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins 
The Melancons are a family of woman healers in Harlem, but despite the magical power of their caul, Josephine Melancon cannot bear a child to carry on the family legacy“Jerkins’ debut novel is a multilayered reflection of contemporary dilemmas with a touch of magic realism. With themes such as motherhood, acceptance, and a duty to be of service, the novel is well paced, with alluring anticipation... On the heels of her excellent memoir Wandering in Strange Lands (2020), Jerkins solidifies herself as one of our guiding literary lights, no matter the genre.” (Booklist)
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Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi 
To celebrate the occasion of joining their surnames, Otto and Xavier (along with their pet mongoose) embark on a “non-honeymoon honeymoon” on a bafflingly enigmatic train whose passengers are just as strange and mysterious. “Delightfully bonkers... this exciting and inventive novel brims with unusual insights.” (Publishers Weekly) Oyeyemi’s accolades include the 2010 Somerset Maugham Award (White is for Witching) and a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (Mr. Fox).
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The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade 
In Las Penas, New Mexico, the burdens are heavy for unemployed alcoholic Amadeo Padilla, his pregnant 16-year-old daughter Angel, and his mother Yolanda, the family breadwinner who is dying of cancer. “With beautifully layered relationships and an honest yet profoundly empathetic picture of a rural community... this novel is a brilliant meditation on love and redemption. Perfectly rendered characters anchor a novel built around a fierce, flawed, and loving family.” (Publishers Weekly) Quade is the author of the story collection Night at the Fiestas (2015) honored by a number of awards including the National Book Critic Circle's John Leonard Prize. 
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Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley 
In modern day London, sex workers Precious and Tabitha go head to head with their landlord, a ruthless developer and heiress. Mozley “parses the relationships between inheritance and wealth, gentrification and squalor, men and women... this is a seriously entertaining romp through one of London's most historic districts, alongside a band of resilient have-nots who are determined to win out over an entitled heiress.” (Library JournalMosley’s debut novel, Elmet, was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. 
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Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian 
In the early 2000s in Hammond Creek, Georgia, teens Neil Narayan and Anita Dayal boost their chances at achieving their Ivy League dreams with a magical elixir that is made from stolen jewelry and infused with the jewelry owners’ ambitions. “Out of this nugget of magical realism, Sathian spins pure magic... Filled with pathos, humor, slices of American history, and an adrenaline-pumping heist, Sathian's spectacular debut also highlights the steep costs of the all-American dream.” (Booklist) 
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The Man Who Lived Underground by Richard Wright 
A previously unpublished work from a literary giant. One day on his way home from work, Fred Daniels is falsely accused of murder, beaten by cops and forced into a false confession, but a brief moment of opportunity allows him to flee and go into hiding in the city’s sewers. “The power and pain of Wright’s writing are evident in this wrenching novel, which was rejected by his publisher in 1942, shortly after the release of Native Son... Wright makes the impact of racist policing palpable as the story builds to a gut-punch ending, and the inclusion of his essay “Memories of My Grandmother” illuminates his inspiration for the book. This nightmarish tale of racist terror resonates.” (Publishers Weekly) 
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Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson 
When a photographer and a dancer collaborate on an artistic venture to document Black residents of London, their partnership leads to love.  “Nelson’s impressive first novel is tender, lyrical, and all-consuming. In expertly crafted, poetic prose, this British Ghanaian writer tells the story of two young Black artists falling in love, falling out of love, and learning how to be soft and vulnerable in a society that refuses to allow them to be so... A truly exceptional debut.” (Booklist) 
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Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi 
The disparate lives of four people converge in Las Vegas when a bomb detonates at the Positano Luxury Resort and Casino: there’s the math whiz turned professional poker player, a cocktail waitress and former model, an Italian tourist who’s overstayed his visa, and a Mormon journalist hunting a story. “This sprawling, delightful debut book captures the artificial worlds within worlds in the casinos, the unnavigable streets just outside the strip, the big dreams, and the bad beats. It has a labor dispute, a big explosion, and an immigration saga... This is a tremendously funny book, but it earns its laughs through human frailty. It makes fun of the powerful and the ridiculous, but even then there’s nothing easy. Everyone here is haphazardly seeking something better and different within themselves, and they look to find it in this virtual microcosm of America. An intimate epic set in a virtual but deeply human world.” (Kirkus Reviews) 
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Are You Enjoying? by Mira Sethi 
“Already an established actor and journalist, Sethi makes her fiction debut with six partially interlinked stories set in her native Pakistan, each confronting various power dynamics... Sethi both exposes and enthralls.” (Booklist) 
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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in March 2021

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen 
The Committed continues the story that began in Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer (2015). It’s the 1980s, and the unnamed narrator is now a refugee in Paris where he dabbles in capitalism by selling drugs and connects with a community of left-wing intellectuals. “An exhilarating roller-coaster ride filled with violence, hidden identity, and meditations on whether the colonized can ever be free... Nguyen continues to delight.” (Publishers Weekly) 
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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel 
After many years, visa overstays and deportations, fifteen-year-old Talia’s family is split between the United States and Colombia. Now she must escape from a remote juvenile detention center and meet her father in Bogotá in time to catch the flight that will reunite their family in New Jersey. “An outstanding novel of migration and the Colombian diasporae... Engel’s sharp, unflinching narrative teems with insight and dazzles with a confident, slyly sophisticated structure.” (Publishers Weekly) Engel’s other books include The Veins of the Ocean (2016) and Vida (2010), and her accolades include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the International Latino Book Award and the Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana, Colombia’s national prize in literature. 
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive. 

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge 
In 1860s Brooklyn, Libertie is the freeborn daughter of Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first Black female doctor in New York State. Although her mother pressures her to follow in her footsteps, Libertie must forge her own path in life, leading her far from home. “Greenidge succeeds beautifully at presenting the complexities of an intense mother-daughter bond, with its blend of unrealistic expectations, disappointments, and betrayals... Greenidge creates a richly layered tapestry of Black communal life, notably Black female life, and the inevitable contradictions and compromises of freedom.’” (BooklistGreenridge is also the author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman, a New York Times Top 10 Books of 2016 
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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton 
Magazine editor S. Sunny Curtis is documenting the lives and careers of Afro-punk progenitor Opal Jewel and her partner Nev Charles, whose 1970s avant-garde musical duo generated a cult following. “Lucidly envisioned... A cinematic, stereophonic, and boldly imagined story of race, gender, and agency in art.” (Booklist)  
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Red Island House by Andrea Lee 
When African American academic Shay Gilliam marries wealthy Italian businessman Senna, she becomes the mistress of a vacation mansion in Madagascar, a complex role that will transform her life and her marriage. Against a background of myth and magic, as well as racism, sex tourism, and exploitation, the never-perfect match between Senna and Shay continues to devolve. An utterly captivating, richly detailed, and highly critical vision of how the one percent lives in neocolonial paradise.” (Kirkus Reviews) 
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What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster 
This intergenerational saga set in North Carolina from the 1990s to the present features the parallel stories of two families that intersect when Gee and Noelle attend the same newly integrated school. “Coster is an exacting observer but also an endlessly generous one, approaching her cast with a sharp eye and deep warmth. The overlapping pieces fit together, of course, but it’s the individual moments that are exquisite, each chapter a tiny snapshot of a whole world. Tender but--miraculously--never sentimental.” (Kirkus ReviewsCoster was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree for 2020 and her debut novel Halsey Street was a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Fiction. 
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive. 

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia 
Carmen, a Cuban immigrant living in Miami, worries about her daugher Jeanette, who struggles with addiction. When her El Salvadoran neighbor Gloria is detained by ICE, Jeanette takes in Gloria’s daughter Ana. “Throughout, Garcia illustrates the hard choices mothers make generation after generation to protect their children... This riveting account will please readers of sweeping multigenerational stories.” (Publishers Weekly) 
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Sarahland by Sam Cohen 
A debut collection of short stories explores themes of queerness, relationships and personal transformation, all featuring characters named Sarah. “Wonderfully bizarre... Throughout, Cohen cleverly reimagines the world through a queer lens and uses pop culture and fairy tale references to illustrate the various lives, stories, and worlds the Sarahs can inhabit. A thought-provoking work, Cohen’s collection surprises and excites.” (Publishers Weekly) 
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The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson 
When Rosalie Iron Wing’s father died, she was sent to live in a foster home, separated from her family and her Dakota roots. Decades later, she returns as a widow and a mother to the land of her ancestors. “A thoughtful, moving meditation on connections to the past and the land that humans abandon at their peril.” (Booklist) Award-winning writer Wilson is the author of Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past (2006) and Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life (2011). 
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive. 

Brother Sister Mother Explorer by Jamie Figueroa 
Following the recent death of his mother, Rafa has lost his will to live. His half sister Rufina proposes a pact: they will perform in the plaza of the touristy New Mexican town of their childhood and  raise enough money to escape their grief. “Spellbinding prose, magical elements, and wounded, full hearted characters that nearly jump off the page... This cleverly constructed and deeply moving account enthralls.” (Publishers Weekly) 
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Many Great Reasons to Read Black Fiction in February 2021

We’re always excited to promote books by Black authors, but Black History Month is an irresistible opportunity for even more. This special edition of our monthly fiction preview highlights 10 new books by Black authors. Keep scrolling for a bonus list of novels and story collections by Black authors released over the past few months. 

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson 
During the Obama era in Chicago, Ruth, a successful engineer, and her corporate exec husband embark on a conversation about having children, prompting Ruth to reveal her big secret: when she was seventeen, she gave up a child for adoption. Now she’s back in the Indiana town of her youth, delving into the past and the present while she reunites with family and searches for the son she gave up. “As Ruth learns more about what’s happened to her town and reckons with what she left behind, powerful insights emerge on the plurality of Black American experience and the divisions between rural and urban life, and the wealthy and the working class. Johnson’s clear-eyed saga hits hard.” (Publishers Weekly) 
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.

Blood Grove by Walter Mosley 
Acclaimed author Mosley (whose honors include a PEN America Lifetime Achievement Award and a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award) returns to his long running Easy Rawlins detective series. It’s 1969, and Easy’s latest case gets him tangled up with the mob, sex clubs and racist cops. “As always, Easy's finely calibrated understanding of and commentary on the social and racial climate around him gives the novel its defining texture and power.” If you’ve never read this beloved and iconic series, start with Devil in a Blue Dress (1990). 
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.

100 Boyfriends by Brontez Purnell  
Purnell is an Oakland-based filmmaker, musician, dancer, writer and winner of a 2018 Whiting Writers’ Award for Fiction, and his newest book is collection of perhaps-autofictional vignettes exploring sex, dating and loneliness following his novel Since I Laid My Burden Down (2017). “Purnell brilliantly immerses the reader in Black, queer desire with humor, self-awareness, and just the right amount of vulgarity. (Publishers Weekly) 
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz 
A first book from the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction, the Cecelia Joyce Johnson Emerging Writer Award by the Key West Literary Seminar, and a Tin House Scholarship, this story collection revolves around the stories of Black women and girls in urban and suburban Florida. Each of the stories in this collection is anchored by Moniz’s gorgeous, precise prose... In nearly every paragraph, Moniz unfurls some new observation that nestles down in your brain and sits, steeping like tea leaves, until each story has formed a cohesive, powerful emotional experience. It’s a magical sensation that reveals astonishing talent.” (Bookpage) 
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How the One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones 
In a beachside neighborhood in Barbados called Paradise, Lala lives a hardscrabble and turbulent life not far from Mira, who lives a comfortable life as the wife of a rich man. Their starkly different lives will be unexpectedly connected by a violent crime. The storytelling is far from breathless, but it will leave you that way: The effect is of a horrific opera in which ugliness is inevitable, but no less gutting when it appears... Jones balances the novel’s graphic violence with prose that is both evocative and wistful, haunting.” (Deesha Philyaw for The New York Times) 
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This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith   
On a bridge one night, Tallie, a divorced therapist, spots a man who looks like he’s about to jump. She pulls over and invites him to have a cup of coffee--an unusual start to a romantic relationship. “Cross-Smith (So We Can Glow) explores fragility, grief, and the effects of mental illness in this wonderfully strange novel about new love between broken people... As dark and tense as it is flirty and humorous, this moving novel offers consistent surprises.” (Publishers Weekly) 
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Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins  
Legendary author Jenkins’ latest historical romance is set in Reconstruction era Wyoming, featuring an indominable woman rancher named Spring. Garrett is a formerly enslaved man turned Washington reporter who has come to interview Spring’s brother but ends up finding Spring much more interesting. “This book has all the hallmarks of Jenkins’ fiction--meticulous historical research, a frank look at social conditions for Black people of the time, masterful pacing, and complex, likable characters. Jenkins' story reminds us that true love doesn’t require sacrificing our independence. You shouldn’t miss it.” (Kirkus Reviews) 
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Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self by Pauline Hopkins, with an introduction by Nisi Shawl 
A reissue of a novel that was originally serialized in Colored American Magazine in 1902, featuring Reuel Briggs, a medical student who meets and falls for a singer named Dianthe, and brings her back from death after what should have been a fatal accident. Later Reuel pursues fortune and adventure in Ethiopia. “Mysticism, horror, and racial identity merge fluidly in this thrilling tale of love, obsession, and power... The suspense is tangible and the final reveal will leave readers reeling. This easily transcends the Victorian lost world genre to be relevant, thought-provoking, and entertaining today.” (Publishers Weekly) 
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Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers 
To celebrate her recently completed doctorate in astronomy, Grace Porter goes on a wild ladies’ weekend in Las Vegas and wakes up with fuzzy memories that she drunkenly met, hooked up with and married Yuki Yamamoto. Usually no-nonsense, high-achieving and totally responsible Grace decides to leave her Portland home to spend the summer in New York, getting to know Yuki while she faces career disappointments, challenging family relationships and depression“Rogers's debut is a beautiful story of learning to love in so many ways: untraditionally, through deep hurt, through mental illness, and through struggles with which readers can relate.” (Library Journal) 
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Symbiosis by Nicky Drayden 
Fans of Afrofuturism will want to check out Drayden’s Escaping Exodus (2019) and it’s new sequel Symbiosis, in which post-Earth humans have rebuilt a civilization inside the body of an enormous tentacled whale-like space creature. The latest episode features Doka, a rare male reader in this matriarchal society, facing many political enemies in this series that examines race, class, queerness and environmentalism. “A sweeping, smart, stunning story that dazzles brighter than a star system... a whimsical, complex, rich setting whose world is the literal anatomy of a beast.” (Booklist on Escaping Exodus) 
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More Recent Releases

Click on the covers to read descriptions and place holds in the Oakland Public Library catalog. 

 

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in January 2021

 

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. 
On an antebellum plantation in Mississippi, Isaiah and Samuel are enslaved men who find sustenance in their love for one another. The peace they share is threatened by the ambitions of an enslaved preacher who turns their world against them. “An often lyrical and rebellious love story embedded within a tender call-out to Black readers, reaching across time and form to shake something old, mighty in the blood… Jones proves himself an amazing lyricist, pulling poetry out of every image and shift of light.” (Danez Smith, The New York Times
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Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
Darren Vender is an unambitious barista when a chance encounter leads him to an elite sales job at a promising startup. This satirical first novel traces his struggles as the only Black employee in his company and how he loses his way on the path to success. “Askaripour eviscerates corporate culture in his funny, touching debut… In an author’s note, Askaripour suggests the book is meant to serve as a manual for aspiring Black salesmen, and the device is thrillingly sustained throughout, with lacerating asides to the reader on matters of race.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters 
Reece and Amy’s relationship ended when Amy detransitioned and became Ames. When Ames’s new girlfriend (and boss) Katrina gets unexpectedly pregnant, Ames proposes that they start a family—and include ex-girlfriend Reese as a third parent. A wonderfully original exploration of desire and the evolving shape of family… Smart, funny, and bighearted.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi
Tara lived a unconventional, feral life at the expense of her daughter Antara, to whom she was often neglectful and cruel. Years later, in the Indian city of Pune, Tara’s drift into dementia forces Antara into the role of parent and prompts her to examine the relationship between mother and daughter. “An elegantly written family story that sizzles with hatred and is impossible to put down… This is not a miserable book, though, but a painfully exhilarating one.” (The Guardian)
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The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams
Peter Winceworth is a lexicographer at Swansby’s New Encyclopaedic Dictionary during the Victorian Era, who acts out his frustrations by inserting fictitious entries in the S volume. 100 years later, Mallory is a Swansby’s intern responsible for complaints and hunting down errant entries, while at home her girlfriend Pip is urging her to come out of the closet. “You wouldn’t expect a comic novel about a dictionary to be a thriller too, but this one is. In fact, Eley Williams’s hilarious new book, 'The Liar’s Dictionary,' is also a mystery, love story (two of them) and cliffhanging melodrama.” (The New York Times) Williams’s short story collection Attrib. won the James Tait Black Prize in 2018 and finally will be released in a U.S. edition in 2021.
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.

Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel 
In 1976 Argentina, Tomás Orilla is a medical student joining the resistance movement against the military junta to impress his childhood love, Isabel. Years later, he is living a new life in New York when he is called back to Buenos Aires to face the ghosts of the past. “A complex and intimate meditation on love, guilt, and the decisions that haunt us forever.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Bride of the Sea by Eman Quotah
Saudi immigrants living in Cleveland, Saeedah and Muneer part ways after only a few years of marriage. When Muneer returns to his homeland, Saeedah fears her young daughter will be taken from her, prompting her to disappear and assume a nomadic life. “The impact of this choice on these three lives and the way it affects the extended family dynamics is central in Quotah’s novel spanning four decades, even as she weaves in the reality of immigrant lives, offers thoughtful observations about religious identity, and provides vignettes of Saudi culture… a compelling and worthy read.” (Booklist)
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The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard 
In the early 20th century, August Sitwell and Miss Mamie Price are part of an all-Black domestic staff serving the Barclays, a white family with a dwindling fortune. Mr. Barclay seizes an opportunity to regain the family fortune by marketing a meat sauce using Miss Mamie’s recipe and a caricature of August’s likeness on the label. “Hubbard (The Talented Ribkins) delves into issues of race, vengeance, redemption, and rage… Hubbard’s prose brims with unspoken tensions and a prevailing sense of dread as she skillfully explores how the characters are impacted by trauma. Shocking and thought-provoking.” (Publishers Weekly)
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No Heaven for Good Boys by Keisha Bush 
Six-year-old Ibrahimah leaves his Senegalese village for Dakar, where he expects to become a student of the Quran with his older cousin. Instead, Ibrahimah is exploited and abused, and must learn how to survive. “Dickensian… Ibrahimah must rely on wit, luck, and the ability to weather what fate throws at him, which is a lot, to survive. Bush is a born storyteller, who knows how to speak in the language of the boys she brings to life. They are hungry and they want love—the latter being the word most often used in this devastating, drawn from real events, story.” (Literary Hub)   
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The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez, translated by Megan McDowell
Argentine journalist and author follows her 2017 collection Things We Lost in the Fire with another book of dark, unsettling short stories. "Breathtaking, off-kilter, even deranged… While Enriquez's indelible images will sear themselves into readers' memories, it's her straightforward delivery and matter-of-fact tone that belie the wild, gasp-worthy action unfolding on the page. This makes for surprising, occasionally gut-wrenching reading.” (Booklist)
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in December 2020

The Opium Prince  by Jasmine  Aimaq 
In 1970 Kabul, Daniel Abdullah Sajadi, an American Diplomat with Afghan roots, is heading a foreign aid effort to eradicate Afghanistan’s poppy fields. In the wake of a tragic accident, Daniel becomes the target of blackmail from an Opium kingpin. “Searing… Offering a piercing look at the Afghan view of foreign aid and patriarchal foreigners, Aimaq, who is half-Afghan and spent part of her life in the country, is a writer to watch. Every carefully described detail here will stay with readers as they examine what they thought they knew about America’s exporting of democracy and its war on drugs.” (Booklist
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.
 
A Spy in the Struggle by Aya de Leon 
Yolanda Vance conquered poverty, Harvard, and built a prestigious law career before she became a corporate whistleblower. Now she’s working for the FBI, helping them infiltrate the youth activists of an eco/racial justice organization. Acclaimed East Bay writer and Director of the Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley, de Leon is known for her feminist, anti-racist page turners featuring steamy romance, and this one adds a mix of environmental activism, corporate corruption and government surveillance.
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.  
 
How to Fail at Flirting  by Denise Williams 
We seem to be in the middle of a Rom-Com renaissance featuring characters and authors of color, and here’s a great example. Professor Naya Turner’s friends have been pushing her to get back out into the dating scene, and it’s working—a one night stand with Jake leads to steamy and sweet romance. But then she finds out Jake is a management consultant contracting with her university with some serious conflicts of interest. “Quirky, delightful… Jam-packed with laugh-out-loud banter and heart-fluttering romance, this is a knockout.” (Publishers Weekly
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.
 
Big Girl Small Town by Michelle Gallen  
A slice of life in a Northern Irish village: In the town of Aghybogey, Majella O’Neill is a 27-year-old woman on the spectrum who looks after her alcoholic mother while mourning the murder of her grandmother but she finds refuge in her routines, a job at a chip shop, and watching DVDs of her favorite show Dallas. “Gallen’s effortless immersion into a gritty, endlessly bittersweet world packs a dizzying punch.” (Publishers Weekly
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.
 
The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller 
When Ronan, a successful Manhattan photographer in New York City, returns to his upstate hometown of Hudson to take care of his father he hardly recognizes the former whaling town that made his gay teen years so unbearable. Ronan reconnects with his first love Dom, and together with Dom’s wife Attalah they launch a series of pranks to antagonize the town’s gentrifiers—and unwittingly awaken dark sprits, sparking a series of disturbing events. “Takes on cosmic horror with chillingly realistic results... Filled with intense dread and unease; well-drawn if flawed characters; social commentary; and a satisfying resolution.” (Library Journal) Miller is the author of Blackfish City (2018), winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel and one of NPR’s Best Books of the Year.  
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.
 
Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass 
The stream-of-consciousness thoughts of a pediatric nurse Laura. Traumatized by her work, she finds no comfort at home between her distant partner and the nightmares she suffers when she’s able to sleep. “Elliptical and lyric with an intense interiority… Glass, a nurse herself, takes both standard nursing tropes and revelations about the work and brings them all to shimmering life… A heart-wrenching and poetic look at a profession that deserves more literary attention.” (Kirkus Reviews) Glass’s debut novel Peach (2018) was long-listed for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. 
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.
 
A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers 
Brilliant and accomplished food critic Dorothy Daniels has an insatiable appetite for food, sex, and cannibalistic murder. “One of the most uniquely fun and campily gory books in my recent memory... “A Certain Hunger” has the voice of a hard-boiled detective novel, as if metaphor-happy Raymond Chandler handed the reins over to the sexed-up femme fatale and really let her fly.” (New York Times
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.
 
The Mermaid from Jeju by Sumi Hahn 
Goh Junja is becoming a successful haenyeo, or deep freediver, on Korea's Jeju Island when the sudden death of her mother upends her family’s life, just on the eve of the departure of Japanese colonizing forces and the encroachment of the U.S. military. “Commingling multigenerational family saga, legends, wrenching love story, ghostly hauntings, and tumultuous history, Hahn creates a transporting masterpiece.” (Booklist
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.
 
Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez 
In near-future Candada, terrrible floods, homelessness and widespread hunger are causing unrest and an oppressive regime begins mass incarceration of marginalized communities.  Kay, a queer femme Jamaican Filipino man, must leave behind a life as a drag performer to lead the resistance. “Hernandez delivers beautiful and heartbreaking scenes in a story that is hard especially because of how close it feels to our present.” (Booklist)  
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.
 
Take It Back by Kia Abdullah  
Zara Kaleel, an advocate for sexual abuse victims in London, faces backlash from her own Muslim community when she represents a 16 year old white girl accusing four Muslim young men of rape. “This is a superb legal thriller that fairly crackles with tension.” (The Guardian
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Are you looking for gift ideas this holiday season? You can support the library at the same time! The Friends of the Oakland Public Library are now selling new books via Bookshop.org. When you buy books from their Bookshop.org shop, Friends of the OPL receives 100% of the profit - approximately 30% of the purchase price. To purchase, go to the Friends of the OPL shop, browse books, and buy. It's that easy! Of course, you can also continue to purchase used books virtually or in in person at The Bookmark Bookstore in Old Oakland--and they're having a two-week sale December 6 - 18.

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in November 2020

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans 
Evans’s debut story collection, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (2010), won a PEN award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the National Book Foundation included Evans as one of their "5 Under 35" honorees. A decade later she returns with another collection that will not disappoint. “Evans writes with a wealth of knowledge of American history, serving as a catalyst for both the prisons and the freedoms her characters are allowed to explore. She dives into the generational wounds from America’s violent racial past and present, and crafts her stories with a surgeon's precision. Each detail meticulously builds on the last, leading to satisfying, unforeseeable plot twists. The language is colorful and drenched with emotion. Readers won’t be able to look away from the page as Evans captivates them in a world all her own.” (Booklist) 
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The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
Nadir is a trans Syrian American man in New York who, haunted by the death of his mother, paints murals of birds and finds inspiration the journals of fellow Syrian and artist Laila Z. “A fable of being and belonging from the author of The Map of Salt and Stars (2018)… Joukhadar's prose style—folkloric, lyrical, and emotionally intense—creates its own atmosphere. Gorgeous and alive.” (Kirkus Reviews) 
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White Ivy by Susie Yang 
Ivy yearns for assimilation, status, wealth, and the love of Gideon Speyer, the privileged son of a wealthy political family. As she draws closer to Gideon, a fear that her past mistakes will be exposed drives her to take drastic measures. “The intelligent, yearning, broken, and deeply insecure Ivy will enthrall readers, and Yang's beautifully written novel ably mines the complexities of class and privilege. A sophisticated and darkly glittering gem of a debut.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Nights When Nothing Happened by Simon Han
In Plano, Texas, the Chengs are striving to be a model immigrant family. They’re already on shaky footing when a misunderstanding threatens to shatter everything. “Han’s characters are authentic, vulnerable, and utterly convincing, delivering one dynamite novel. An astutely realized portrait of the collateral damage wrought by the pursuit of the American dream.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi
Three Nigerian women, Kambirinachi and her twin daughters Kehinde and Taiye, face the consequences of unhealed wounds while separated by three different continents in a story that looks at family ties, Igbo spirituality, queer love and fresh beginnings. “Mixing emotional depth with supernatural elements, this is a masterful debut.” (Booklist)
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Reconstruction by Alaya Dawn Johnson 
Fans of Black Speculative Fiction and Johnson’s recent novel Trouble the Saints (2020) will want to check out this story collection, which includes her 2014 Nebula winner “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i.” “Throughout, Johnson breaks down genre boundaries, combining elements of fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and horror, in settings ranging from the historical and familiar to the wildly imaginative. Unified by Johnson’s sensuous prose, these stories will delight existing fans and serve as an excellent introduction for those new to Johnson’s work.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Eartheater by Dolores Reyes 
A poverty-stricken teenaged Argentinean girl develops a taste for dirt following the violent death of her mother, earning her the new name Eartheater and bringing on clairvoyant abilities that allow her to see the fates of missing and murdered women and children. “A powerful story whose narrator wields brutally honest observations on the intersections of class, poverty, and gender… A stirring genre blend of fantasy and crime fiction that combines graceful prose and magic realism.” (Booklist)
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The Orchard by David Hopen
In his senior year of high school, Ari Eden’s family moves from their ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood to suburban Miami. There, Ari encounters a more secular lifestyle and is welcomed into the cool clique by the rebellious and intellectual Evan. “The result is an entirely surprising tale, rich with literary allusions and Talmudic connections, about the powerful allure of belonging… in vivid prose, the novel thoughtfully explores cultural particularity while telling a story with universal resonances. A captivating Jewish twist on the classic American campus novel.” (Kirkus Reviews) 
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The Factory Witches of Lowell by C. S. Malerich
When the owners of a textile mill in mid-19th century Massachusetts decide to raise the rent on their workers, the “Mill Girls” organize and go on strike, reinforcing their solidarity with actual witchcraft. “Class struggles and industry exploitation are woven into a touching tale layered with magical and romantic elements… a delightful historical fantasy shining a spotlight on New England history.” (Library Journal)
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The Decameron Project: 29 New Stories from the Pandemic selected by the editors of The New York Times Magazine 
This collection of stories was commissioned by the New York Times Magazine and features contributions from some of the English-reading world’s most acclaimed authors including Margaret Atwood, Tommy Orange, Edwidge Danticat and Esi Edugyan.
Check out or recommend this eBook for purchase on Overdrive.

 

Oakland Public Library continues to offer Sidewalk Service at sixteen locations. You can reserve  books, DVDs, CDs, and WiFi hotspots and pick them up at our doors. More information can be found here

 

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in October 2020

Memorial by Bryan Washington
Mike, a Japanese-American chef and Benson, a Black daycare teacher, have lived together happily in Houston for a few years but their relationship is getting stale. Then Mike leaves for Osaka to visit his estranged father on his death bed just as his mother arrives in Texas for a visit, requiring Benson to be her host in uneasy conditions. “Washington's novel is richly layered and thrives in the quiet moments between lovers and family members… A subtle and moving exploration of love, family, race, and the long, frustrating search for home.” (Kirkus Reviews) Washington is the author of the story collection Lot (2019), a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and winner of multiple awards including the Ernest J. Gaines Award and a Lambda Literary Award.
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Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark  
Fans of Lovecraft Country and Victor LaValle will want to get their hands on this novella, a mix of supernatural horror and history set in 1920’s Georgia where Maryse Boudreaux, armed with the gift of sight and a mystical sword, leads a band of heroines in a fight against the monsters known as Ku Klux. “Vividly reimagines the Ku Klux Klan’s second wave in this thrilling, provocative, and thoroughly badass fantasy.” (Publishers Weekly) Clark was nominated for the Nebula and Locus awards for his novella The Black God’s Drums (2018) and is a professor of history.
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Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam 
Longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, Alam’s third novel features Amanda and Clay, Brooklynites who have rented a Hamptons home for an idyllic family summer vacation. But then the house’s owners, G.H. and Ruth, appear, fleeing widespread blackouts that have struck the east coast, just the beginning of a series of increasingly disturbing events. “A riveting novel that thrums with suspense yet ultimately offers no easy answers—disappointing those who crave them even as it fittingly reflects our time. Addressing race, risk, retreat, and the ripple effects of a national emergency, Alam's novel is just in time for this moment.” (Kirkus Reviews) Alam is the author of Rich and Pretty and That Kind of Mother.
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Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Akutagawa Prize winner Murata follows her very popular Convenience Store Woman (2018) with another novel featuring an unusual woman protagonist resisting the conventions of society. As a child, Natsuki is a misfit and a victim of abuse who finds comfort in Piyyut, a stuffy who is also an alien with magical powers, and her cousin Yuu, who also thinks he’s an alien. Perhaps Natsuki is an alien too? “Chronicles the nightmarish discontent of one girl amid the deadening conformity of modern Japanese society… This eye-opening, grotesque outing isn’t to be missed.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
In this horror-comedy-historical fiction meta-mash-up, a series of mysterious and disturbing deaths take place at Brookhants School for Girls in the early 1900s. 100 years later, the author of a book that popularized the queer, feminist past of the cursed institution is on site at the school as her book is remade into a horror film. “Sexy, funny, and spooky… The wry, knowing tone of its narrator, the queerness at its core, and the illustrations by Sara Lautman all contribute to a suspenseful rush that will leave the reader flipping furiously to the end.” (Booklist) Danforth is the author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012).
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Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative edited by Joshua Whitehead
Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous authors imagine attempts to survive apocalypses past, present and future, edited by the author of Jonny Appleseed (2018). “These stories are a welcome breath of fresh air in the often hyperindividualist, survivalist subgenre of postapocalyptic fiction, and are essential reading for anyone committed to the possibilities of sf as a means to create new and different futures.” (Booklist) 
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A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo
A woman from rural China moves to London for graduate school during the Brexit Era, where she meets an Australian man and falls in love. “Two lovers merge their lives, but not their identities, across boundaries of culture, nationality, and ideology… A fiercely intelligent book whose exploration of the philosophy of identity is trenchant and moving.” (Kirkus Reviews) Xiaolu Guo won the National Book Critics Circle Award for her memoir Nine Continents (2017) and was named one of Granta magazine's Best of Young British Novelists in 2013.
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The Lost Shtetl by Max Gross
The small Polish village of Kreskol, overlooked by Hitler, managed to avoid the Holocaust, the Cold War, and every other tragedy of modern times. It remains isolated until a townsperson flees following a marriage dispute, suddenly exposing the villiage to the 21st century. “Lively and imaginative… alternately reminiscent of early Isaac Bashevis Singer and a Catskills comedian. Gross’s entertaining, sometimes disquieting tale delivers laugh-out-loud moments and deep insight on human foolishness, resilience, and faith.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, translated by Polly Barton
Matsuda subverts classic Japanese folk tales in this collection of seventeen stories. “Prizewinning Japanese writer Matsuda imagines reclamation and brilliantly transforms fairy tales and folk legends into empowering exposés, adventures, manifestos… [and] enthralls with both insight and bite.” (Booklist)
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Ramifications by Daniel Saldaña París 
In 1994, when the narrator was 10, his mother left. 23 years later, he is bedridden, spending his days reflecting on the past and trying to puzzle together what became of his mother. “Strange and elegant… París brilliantly explores memory, masculinity, and familial drama in equal measure. The result is an affecting account of arrested development.” (Publishers Weekly) París is an acclaimed Mexican poet, essayist and novelist and author of Among Strange Victims (2016).
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Did you know that some of our Oakland Public Library branches have been offering sidewalk pickup service? If you've been missing print books, you can pick up holds for books, DVDs, CDs, and WiFi hotspots at our doors. More information can be found here

 

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in September 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine, still grieving the loss of her brother while she cares for her fragile mother and tries to make sense of her own life. “A book of blazing brilliance… Gyasi’s ability to interrogate medical and religious issues in the context of America’s fraught racial environment makes her one of the most enlightening novelists writing today.” (The Washington Post) Gyasi won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the American Book Award for her debut novel Homegoing
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The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
The newest novel from the enigmatic Italian novelist is a coming of age story featuring Giovanna, whose father says she reminds him of her estranged aunt Vittoria every day. And he doesn’t mean it as a compliment. “What a relief it is when an author who has written a masterpiece returns to prove the gift intact… Here as in her past work, she captures the interior states of young people with an unflinching psychological honesty that is striking in its vividness and depth.” (The New York Times)
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Jack by Marilynne Robinson
Robinson continues her mid-century, midwestern saga following the novels GileadHome, and Lila. Jack Boughton, a troubled drifter and small time criminal is in love with upstanding schoolteacher Della Miles, but their doomed mixed-race courtship is scandalous and their marriage forbidden by law. “Myriad manifestations of pain are evoked, but here, too, are beauty, humor, mystery, and joy as Robinson holds us rapt with the exactitude of her perceptions and the exhilaration of her hymnal cadence, and so gracefully elucidates the complex sorrows and wonders of life and spirit.” (Booklist) Jack serves as a prequel to the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead but can be read as a standalone novel for the uninitiated. 
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The Awkward Black Man by Walter Mosley
Mosley is a beloved and acclaimed author whose honors include a PEN America Lifetime Achievement Award and a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award. His latest release offers seventeen portraits of Black men and their lives. “These first-person narratives present an array of men in varying circumstances facing racism, obstructed opportunities, and other terrors of modern life, including climate change, natural and manmade disasters, homelessness, urban violence, and failed relationships… Mosley's is an essential American voice and his portraits of Black men will have profound resonance.” (Booklist)
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What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez
The narrator of Nunez’s eighth novel is supporting a cancer-stricken friend when she is asked to help the friend end her life. “Spare and elegant and immediate… The novel is concerned with the biggest possible questions and confronts them so bluntly it is sometimes jarring: How should we live in the face of so much suffering? Dryly funny and deeply tender; draining and worth it.” (Kirkus Reviews) The author’s last novel, The Friend, won the 2018 National Book Award. 
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A Girl Is a Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi 
Kirabo is a smart, powerful young girl coming of age in 1970s Uganda. Raised by her grandparents and many women in her village, she is haunted by the absence of her mother as she tries to navigate the powerful feminine forces she senses inside her. “Luminous and sprawling… a magnificent blend of Ugandan folklore and more modern notions of feminism… this book is a jewel.” (Kirkus Reviews) Award-winning Ugandan writer Makumbi is also the author of Kintu (2017) and Let’s Tell This Story Properly (2019).
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The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
26-year-old Margot Lee travels from Seattle to Los Angeles to check on her mother, only to find her dead—leaving Margot alone to uncover the traumatic details of her undocumented mother’s life. “Haunting and heartbreaking… With both sadness and beauty, she describes grief, regret, loss, and the feeling of being left behind.” (Booklist) A debut novel from an Oakland-based author.
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Bestiary by K-ming Chang
This queer, intergenerational, transnational fable steeped in Taiwanese heritage takes off when Daughter grows a tiger tail and discovers letters from her grandmother cached in holes in her backyard. “A visceral book that promises a major new literary voice.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar
The latest from a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and acclaimed novelist (American Dervish, 2012) draws on his personal experience as the son of Muslim Pakistani immigrants in the eras of 9/11 and Trump. "Over the course of eight chapters—some narrative, some nearly essaylike, all bookended by an "overture" and a "coda"—Akhtar explores family, politics, art, money, sex, religion, and prejudice in vivid, bracingly intelligent prose... A profound and provocative inquiry into an artist's complex American identity." (Kirkus Reviews
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Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
Shun-lien Bynum is the author of the PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Ms. Hempel Chronicles (2008) and the National Book Award finalist Madeleine Is Sleeping (2004). Her newest is a story collection, including the title story that appeared in The New Yorker a few years ago (you can read it here). “The adjectives that readers often attach to Bynum’s work — “enchanting,” “charming,” “precise” — are accurate, but can give the impression that she specializes in dollhouse miniatures, masterfully crafted but bloodless. Her skills and her sensibility are deeper and darker than that… Bynum offers her reader inventively landscaped, beautifully manicured gardens teeming with rewardingly warty toads.” (The New York Times)
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Did you know that some of our Oakland Public Library branches have been offering sidewalk pickup service? If you've been missing print books, you can pick up holds for books, DVDs, CDs, and WiFi hotspots at our doors. More information can be found here

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in August 2020

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
This story begins as a mother finds the murdered body of her only child, Vivek, on her doorstep, prompting a series of flashbacks that reveal the details of Vivek’s life and death, his struggles with his identity and his family’s failures to understand him. A “searing examination of gender dissonance, sexual attraction, familial love, and loyalty… this achingly beautiful probe into the challenges of living fully as a nonbinary human being, is an illuminating read.” (Library Journal) Emezi has received awards, nominations and accolades for her first novel Freshwater (2017) and YA novel Pet (2019).
If you’d like to read this on Overdrive, click here to recommend that we purchase it for the library.

Luster by Raven Leilani
Edie is an artist in her twenties with a day job at a New York publishing house. When she pursues an affair with a married white man, her life becomes enmeshed with his family in ways she would have never predicted. “An unstable ballet of race, sex, and power… Sharp, strange, propellant—and a whole lot of fun.” (Kirkus Reviews
If you’d like to read this on Overdrive, click here to recommend that we purchase it for the library.

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
An unlikely trio forms an unexpected family when widowed Miss Betty and her teenage son rent a room to a lodger, Mr. Chetan, a closeted teacher. “Beautifully written… The skilled treatment of the characters brings them to vivid life, as it does the richly realized Trinidadian setting. An award-winning short story writer, Persaud demonstrates her skill with longer fiction in this superb debut novel.” (Booklist)
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Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Virgil Wounded Horse is a vigilante-for-hire, stepping in when the tribal council or the U.S. legal system fails to enforce justice. As the guardian of his nephew since his sister died, the local heroin problem is about to hit home. “Weiden combines funny, complex, and unforgettable characters with strong, poetic prose… This is crime fiction at its best.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
In this Appalachian coming of age story, Betty faces racism, poverty and violence as the daughter of a Cherokee father and a white mother and sister to seven siblings. Will she find the strength and resilience she’ll need to survive? “A sweeping and heart-wrenching exploration of how we understand our parents’ lives and how our children will one day understand our own.” (Booklist)
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Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun, translated by Lizzie Buehler
Yona is unhappily employed at Jungle, a South Korean travel company that specializes in visits to natural disaster sites, when her employer sends her on a visit to remote island Mui, site of an infamous sinkhole. “Spare but provacative… In Yona’s increasingly bizarre encounters, she learns just how severe the local environmental degradation is and the frightening extent of corporate greed. Yun cleverly combines absurdity with legitimate horror and mounting dread.” (Publishers Weekly)
If you’d like to read this on Overdrive, click here to recommend that we purchase it for the library.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses 
When a virus eliminates animals as a food source, humans turn to eating humans in this cannibalistic dystopia. Marcos is an employee of a plant that processes genetically-modified human meat, and that’s not his only problem. “It is a testament to Bazterrica's skill that such a bleak book can also be a page-turner. An unrelentingly dark and disquieting look at the way societies conform to committing atrocities.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Black Bottom Saints by Alice Randall
On the eve of his death, Joseph "Ziggy" Johnson (1913-1968), a real-life Detroit celebrity, dancer, emcee and gossip columnist, reflects on his life and his relationships with other personalities both famous and obscure. “The last testament of an African American showbiz insider is here rendered as an impassioned, richly detailed, and sometimes heartbreaking evocation of black culture in 20th century Detroit and beyond.” (Kirkus Reviews) Randall is best known for her novel The Wind Done Gone (2001), a retelling of Gone with the Wind.
If you’d like to read this on Overdrive, click here to recommend that we purchase it for the library.

Aria by Nazanine Hozar   
Aria is abandoned as an infant, rescued by an army truck driver and raised by three different mothers in this novel that tells both the story of a young life and a country in tumult. “Making an impressive fiction debut, Hozar creates a vibrant, unsettling portrait of her native Iran from the 1950s to 1981, a period beset by poverty and oppression, chaos and revolution… An engrossing tale.” (Kirkus Reviews) 
If you’d like to read this on Overdrive, click here to recommend that we purchase it for the library.

The Bitch by Pilar Quintana, translated by Lisa Dillman 
Damaris lives on a coastal Colombian bluff with her often absent fisherman husband. When she adopts a puppy, it awakens deep emotions of both love and pain as the dog eases her loneliness, reminds her of her struggles with infertility, and repeatedly disappears into the jungle. “A searing psychological portrait of a troubled woman contending with her instinct to nurture is at the heart of Colombian writer Quintana’s slim, potent English-language debut…  Quintana’s vivid novel about love, betrayal, and abandonment hits hard.” (Booklist)
If you’d like to read this on Overdrive, click here to recommend that we purchase it for the library.

 

Did you know that some of our Oakland Public Library branches have been offering sidewalk pickup service? If you've been missing print books, you can pick up holds for books, DVDs, CDs, and WiFi hotspots at our doors. More information can be found here

 

Kickoff to Summer Fun for Adults: 10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in June

The Summer Fun for Adults program starts this week. You can earn raffle tickets for reading and reviewing books, and by participating in other fun activities.  Prizes include a Chromebook, a free Annual BayWheels membership, boating on Lake Merritt and gift cards for groceries, gardening supplies, sporting goods, books, coffee and more.

To find out more visit this page, and to sign up go here.

Now for a little reading inspiration, here are the top 10 fiction books I’m looking forward to coming out this month.

The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett 
When identical twins Desiree and Stella leave their rural Southern hometown at age 16 their lives veer in separate directions, with one twin deciding to pass as white. Years later their reunion forces them to face the choices they’ve made and the secrets they’ve kept. “With an irresistible narrative voice, Bennett (The Mothers, 2016) writes an intergenerational epic of race and reinvention, love and inheritance, divisions made and crossed, binding trauma, and the ever-present past.” (Booklist)

Pizza Girl 
by Jean Kyoung Frazier 
In suburban Los Angeles, a pregnant, dysfunctional 18-year-old pizza delivery girl forms an intense friendship with a middle-aged mom who orders a pepperoni-and-pickle pizza. “Playful and unflinching… Frazier’s characters are raw and her dialogue startlingly observant… This infectious evocation of a young woman’s slackerdom will appeal to fans of Halle Butler and Ottessa Moshfegh, and will make it difficult not to root for the troubled and spirited pizza girl.” (Publishers Weekly)

A Burning 
by Megha Majumdar
A poor Muslim girl in India named Jivan is is accused of terrorism after making a consequential Facebook comment. Her future could be in the hands of two acquaintances, a former teacher and a neighbor who dreams of being a film star, but both may pursue their own fortunes at Jivan’s expense. “Majumdar expertly weaves the book’s various points of view and plotlines in ways that are both unexpected and inevitable. This is a memorable, impactful work.” (Publishers Weekly)

Exciting Times 
by Naoise Dolan
Ava is a young Irish expat in Hong Kong working as an English teacher. She’s having an affair, sort-of, with London-born Julian when she falls in love with Edith, a Hong Kong local. “This delightfully sardonic, insightful debut picks apart life at the whims of the economy, love, and self-sabotage… believable and piercingly written.” (Library Journal)

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre
by Max Brooks
Following the eruption of Mt. Ranier, the residents of a high-tech community in Washington State are cut off from civilization and must face down menacing Sasquatches in this terrifying and suspenseful tale told in the same style as the author’s zombie novel World War Z. “Piecing together the journal with interviews, transcripts, newspaper clippings, and historical documents, Brooks crafts a terrifying tale that reads like a "true" crime novel. Set in the very near future, with stellar worldbuilding, a claustrophobic atmosphere, an inclusive and fascinating cast of characters, and plenty of bloody action, this inventive story will keep readers' heart rates high.” (Library Journal

Death in Her Hands
by Ottessa Moshfegh
The note reads: “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.” When 72-year-old widow Vesta Gul finds this note, she decides she needs to solve the mystery despite the lack of a crime scene. “Whatever the opposite of Occam's razor is, Vesta's detective work is it… You simultaneously worry about Vesta and root for her, and Moshfegh's handling of her story is at once troubling and moving. An eerie and affecting satire of the detective novel.” (Kirkus Reviews) Moshfegh has intrigued and disturbed readers with books including Booker Prize finalist Eileen (2015) and My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018).

You Exist Too Much
by Zaina Arafat
A young queer Palestinian woman struggles with her mother’s disapproval and her own self-destructive impulses, a story that unfolds through vignettes set in North America and the Middle East. “Arafat writes movingly of being caught between identities, homelands, and obligation and desire. This difficult but heartfelt wonder delivers an emotional wallop.” (Publishers Weekly)

Thin Girls 
by Diana Clarke
Lily and Rose share the intense bond that twins often do. As they move through adolescence, both girls struggle with eating disorders, and their bond becomes more important than ever. “As gripping as a thriller, but it's Clarke's language that truly makes this novel special. She writes with a lyricism that not only encompasses the grotesque and the transcendent, but also sometimes commingles the two… Incisive social commentary rendered in artful, original, and powerfully affecting prose.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
In 1950s Mexico City, debutante Noemí Taboada receives a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, compelling her to visit Catalina at the crumbling and terrifying villa of her new spouse. “Moreno-Garcia’s energetic romp through the gothic genre (after Gods of Jade and Shadow) is delightfully bonkers… In a novel that owes a considerable debt to the nightmarish horror and ornate language of H.P. Lovecraft, the situations in which Noemí attempts to prevail get wilder and stranger with every chapter.” (Publishers Weekly)

Party of Two
by Jasmine Guillory
If you’re seeking something fun and sexy, look no further. This latest chapter in the rom-com series that started with The Wedding Date features Olivia Monroe, an attorney who’s just moved to LA to start her own law firm. She has no interest dating politicians but just spent the evening flirting with a cute guy she didn’t know is an up-and-coming senator. 

Place your holds on these paper books coming soon. Overdrive eBook versions of these books will be available later this summer.

What books have been a comfort to you recently? Are you looking forward to any books coming this summer? We'd love to hear in the comments.