Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

WALKING WITH ABEL by Anna Badkhen
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"Readers with hectic lives may find the pace a bit slow, but the poetry in Badkhen's prose demands that readers slow down and savor her gentle, elegant story."
A journalist records her impressions of living with a group of nomads as they travel with their herds of cows back and forth across Mali. Read full book review >
BARBARIAN DAYS by William Finnegan
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 21, 2015

"A lyrical and intense memoir."
An award-winning staff writer for the New Yorker offers a probing account of his lifetime passion for surfing.Read full book review >

THE DRUMMOND GIRLS by Mardi Jo Link
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 14, 2015

"A moving, honest, and laughter-filled account of eight women who gather one weekend every year and enjoy themselves to the fullest."
Loyalty and friendship among eight women. Read full book review >
THE FISH LADDER by Katharine Norbury
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A beautifully written book about a journey through wild places in the landscape and the heart."
British writer Norbury's debut memoir takes readers on vigorous walks through lochs, rivers, and soggy marshes in Scotland, England, and Wales. Read full book review >
JOY by Abigail Santamaria
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"With access to unpublished documents and family papers, Santamaria has fashioned a compelling narrative, remaining cleareyed about her subject's many personal failings."
A woman's quest for faith and love. Read full book review >

QUIXOTE by Ilan Stavans
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 8, 2015

"Stavans brings infectious enthusiasm and penetrating scholarship to this lively investigation of a grand novel and its readers."
The 400-year history of the deeply influential Spanish novel. Read full book review >
THE SPEECHWRITER by Barton Swaim
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 14, 2015

"Candid but not especially compelling."
A former speechwriter for an ex-South Carolina governor offers a glimpse into what it really meant to be a "fashioner of words" for a self-obsessed politician who fell from grace. Read full book review >
THE LOST DETECTIVE by Nathan Ward
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 15, 2015

"A jaunty narrative for Hammett and hard-boiled fans only."
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961), private eye. Read full book review >
MESS by Barry Yourgrau
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 10, 2015

"Yourgrau provides engaging company for most of that span, but the actual decluttering in the book might have taken less than a chapter."
A memoir about decluttering an apartment. Read full book review >
ALICE IN CHAINS by David de Sola
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"Exhaustively researched but too discursive for its own good."
Biography of a drug-ridden Seattle grunge outfit whose fame peaked in the mid-1990s. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 25, 2014

"A quick, emotional, and educational memoir about Alzheimer's."
Vincent describes her attempt to save her mother from the encroachment of Alzheimer's disease in this medical memoir. Read full book review >
SURREALITY by J.D. Bradley
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 21, 2014

"A work by a down-to-earth writer who tells it like it is, even when life seems harsh, unfair, or downright bizarre."
A gritty collection of true-life stories featuring themes of retribution and comeuppance. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Luis Alberto Urrea
April 21, 2015

Examining the borders between one nation and another, between one person and another, Luis Alberto Urrea’s latest story collection, The Water Museum, reveals his mastery of the short form. This collection includes the Edgar-award winning "Amapola" and his now-classic "Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses," which had the honor of being chosen for NPR's "Selected Shorts" not once but twice. Urrea has also recently published a poetry collection, Tijuana Book of the Dead, mixing lyricism and colloquial voices, mysticism and the daily grind. We talk to Urrea about both of his new books this week on Kirkus TV. View video >