An inspiring account of the writing life and a chilling glimpse of authoritarianism’s slippery slope.

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I WILL NEVER SEE THE WORLD AGAIN

THE MEMOIR OF AN IMPRISONED WRITER

Stark, compact essays about a writer’s imprisonment in an increasingly authoritarian Turkey.

In early 2018, Altan (Like a Sword Wound, 2018, etc.), an acclaimed novelist and essayist, was sentenced to life in prison for treason based on televised comments regarding a failed 2016 coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As Philippe Sands recalls in his foreword, “[Altan] spoke with passion and courage, intelligence and humor on the writer’s place in a decent society.” This recollection aptly reflects this slim compendium of essays, produced by Altan while imprisoned. He sketches the arc of his descent into a demeaning carceral nightmare, beginning with charges of broadcasting “subliminal messages” in support of the coup. Later, this was changed to “putschism,” for which he was convicted; one judge cynically told him, “our prosecutors like using words the meanings of which they don’t know.” Altan was jailed alongside many intellectuals and military officers, and the first essays reflect their initial responses to incarceration. “In a matter of hours,” he writes, “I had travelled across five centuries to arrive at the dungeons of the Inquisition.” The author acknowledges the harrowing nature of his ordeal, and he positions himself in the tradition of imprisoned writers who respond to their plight by acknowledging its surreal qualities. “I had seen the monstrous face of reality,” he writes. “From now on I would live like a man clinging to a single branch.” While horrified by his eventual life sentence, he became determined to use the writer’s tools and identity to fight both inner despair and his government’s persecution: “I must confess that even from within a dark cell, the idea of fighting filled me with such exuberance that I was saying ‘To the end,’ with excitement.” This spirit infuses the book and lends rhythmic urgency to Altan’s voice as he reflects on the intensity of life in a cell, the plights of fellow prisoners, and how to recall loved ones without succumbing to despair.

An inspiring account of the writing life and a chilling glimpse of authoritarianism’s slippery slope.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59051-992-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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