Next book

THE ADVENTURES AND MISADVENTURES OF THE EXTRAORDINARY AND ADMIRABLE JOAN ORPÍ, CONQUISTADOR AND FOUNDER OF NEW CATALONIA

Utterly improbable—and utterly delightful.

A rollicking, Rabelaisian tale by Catalan poet and novelist Besora.

Joan Orpí, writes an invented scholar in an inventive foreword, was “a Catalan man who went through a lot and managed to come through it all.” In language that would not be out of place on Talk Like a Pirate Day, Besora relates Orpí’s imagined adventures, a narrative framed by a crew of miscreant sailors being told what pass for maritime nursery tales by a captain desperate to put an end to their grousing. “Ye shant find these in any book of history,” the captain declares, “yet they be no less memorable or less important.” True enough. First there’s Orpí’s miraculous birth, helped along by a blast of lightning directed by the Virgin of Montserrat, who instructs him, “Hush thy blathering piehole and heed these instrucktions on how to effect your fate.” Alas, Orpí’s not much of a listener, and he bumbles between poles of behavior—a would-be monk one moment, a Lothario the next, unconcerned with language at one turn and adept at “mumbling unbearable Latinisms” at another. Law degree acquired but his services not exactly in high demand, Orpí bumbles further, meeting the likes of Cervantes, Sir Francis Drake, and Estebanico the Moor, companion of Cabeza de Vaca, as he eventually maneuvers his way into a position of power as the caudillo of New Catalonia, a hellhole-turned–anarchic outpost in the jungles of South America. Oh, and then there’s his ineffective courtship of a “damsel with an extremely long name,” which ends in nothing but tears. Think of it as a Catalonian rejoinder to Little Big Man, and go with the onrushing flow. Orpí’s a schlemiel, but he’s an endearing one, and we cheer for him. For his part, Besora delivers a delightful parody of the conquistadors’ reports of old, peppered with all manner of goofiness, from songs with lyrics such as “For we art the hardy foes / of abstemia & anemia” to a pseudo-Renaissance vocabulary that will make a language lover smile.

Utterly improbable—and utterly delightful.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948830-24-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Open Letter

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 112


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 112


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

Next book

LONG ISLAND

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work.

At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s.

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781476785110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

Close Quickview