by Jennifer Givhan ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 2019
A testament to the strength of women and girls with a side of philosophy, myth, and metaphysics.
Brace yourself: The end of the world is coming. Or is it? A multilayered, Indigenous-inflected version of the apocalypse that resists predictability.
Calliope Santiago is an anthropologist and a young mother heavily pregnant with twins the day the Earth changes forever. As she’s driving home from her job as a professor at the University of New Mexico, there’s a blinding flash, and Calliope crashes her car. When she comes to, everyone else is gone, rapture-style. Well, almost everyone—Calliope’s 6-year-old neighbor, Eunjoo, also remains, inexplicably. The two flee Albuquerque, where long-dormant volcanoes, newly awakened, are burying the city in molten lava, and head for Calliope’s aunt’s hacienda in the Gila Mountains to the south. On the way, Calliope and Eunjoo amass an unlikely crew of fellow left-behinds, each with his or her role to play as their odyssey unfolds. The author of several poetry collections, first-time novelist Givhan employs Southwestern Puebloan mythology to inform the plot—as when Kachina dolls come to life as the monstrous and deadly Suuke, half-gods, half-monsters hell-bent on destroying Calliope and her companions. Givhan also makes contemporary connections, as when she invokes Kennewick Man, the ancient skeleton discovered in Washington state in the 1990s, and refers to the years of controversy between scientists, the U.S. government, and Native American tribes before the remains were eventually repatriated. Another character, Mara, who’s the partner of Calliope’s missing aunt, witnessed the birth of the atomic bomb in the 1940s when her father was sent to Los Alamos to work on the top-secret Manhattan project. Mara often links the nuclear terror of her childhood and the rending they’re witnessing near the end of her life. Givhan’s themes are complex and occasionally compete with the twists and turns of the plot for a reader’s attention. Still, texture and nuance are rare among disaster narratives and are welcome here.A testament to the strength of women and girls with a side of philosophy, myth, and metaphysics.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.
Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Pub Date: March 10, 2015
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.
"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
Pub Date: June 15, 1951
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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