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Weekly Book News

February 14, 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other—for no one but Saunders could conceive it.

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo
is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices—living and dead, historical and invented—to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end? Buy Now


Shimmering Road by Hester Young

A pulse-pounding mystery from the author of The Gates of Evangeline featuring Charlotte “Charlie” Cates, an unforgettable heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .

When soon-to-be mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to have recurring dreams about harm coming to her unborn daughter, she knows these are not the nightmares of an anxious mom-to-be. They are the result of her mysterious gift. But before she can decipher what these dreams might mean, Charlie learns that the mother who abandoned her when she was a toddler is the victim of a double murder in Arizona. The other victim—Jasmine, a half-sister Charlie never knew she had—has left behind a child, a little girl who speaks to Charlie in her dreams and was present on the night of the murders. Convinced that she must help her orphaned niece, Charlie travels to Tucson, Arizona, where she must confront her painful ties to her mother and delve into her sister’s shadowy past.

To untangle the web of secrets that will reveal the truth of her nightmares, Charlie can no longer avoid her family’s checkered history. Who is in the racy photos that turned up in Jasmine’s apartment? Where is her niece’s father, whom Jasmine was rumored to have been seeing again on the sly? Was her mother’s charity work in Mexico really as selfless as it seemed? And most important of all, what did her niece really witness on the night of the murders?

The search for answers leads Charlie across the Mexican border, from the resort town of Rocky Point to the border town of Nogales, and elucidates the meaning of her dreams in most unexpected ways. Ultimately, to protect her niece and her unborn child, Charlie must battle not just evil but the forces of nature, in one final terrifying encounter in the Tucson desert.

A thrilling mystery that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist that is unputdownable. If you love Kate Atkinson and Alice Sebold, you should not miss Hester Young. Buy Now


We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

“Reading Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones is like being swung heart first into history…A brave and mesmerizing debut, and a truly tremendous accomplishment.” —Paula McLain

An extraordinary, propulsive novel based on the true story of a far-flung family of Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust, escaped the war, and found each other again, against all odds


It is the spring of 1939, and the seven members of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows ever closer. The talk around the family seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing depravations facing Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurc family will be flung to the far corners of the earth, each charting his or her own path toward safety. As some members are forced into exile, others try to escape certain death by working endless hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Facing an unknown future where they may or may not ever be reunited, the Kurcs find inner strength and hope in the face of horror.

Propelled by their will to survive—across six years and five continents, from the jazz clubs of Paris to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to Montelupich Prison and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag—the Kurcs find ways to persevere even in the face of impossible hardship.

When author Georgia Hunter was just entering adulthood, she discovered that her beloved grandfather Addy was part of a family that escaped the horrors of World War II. This novel is a fictional account of their remarkable experience that is not only a tribute to her family’s story but to the triumph of the human spirit in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment. We Were the Lucky Ones is a testament to the notion that with courage, ingenuity, and luck, nearly anything is possible. Buy Now


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