Tuesday, April 7, 2020

"American Prophets"

New from HarperOne: American Prophets: The Religious Roots of Progressive Politics and the Ongoing Fight for the Soul of the Country by Jack Jenkins.

About the book, from the publisher:

From one of the country’s most respected religion reporters, a paradigm-shifting discussion of how the Religious Left is actually the moral compass that has long steered America’s political debates, including today.

Since the ascendancy of the Religious Right in the 1970s, common wisdom holds that it is a coalition of fundamentalist powerbrokers who are the “moral majority,” setting the standard for conservative Christian values and working to preserve the status quo.

But, as national religion reporter Jack Jenkins contends, the country is also driven by a vibrant, long-standing moral force from the left. Constituting an amorphous group of interfaith activists that goes by many names and takes many forms, this coalition has operated since America’s founding — praying, protesting, and marching for common goals that have moved society forward. Throughout our history, the Religious Left has embodied and championed the progressive values at the heart of American democracy—abolition, labor reform, civil rights, environmental preservation.

Drawing on his years of reporting, Jenkins examines the re-emergence of progressive faith-based activism, detailing its origins and contrasting its goals with those of the Religious Right. Today’s rapidly expanding interfaith coalition — which includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and other faiths — has become a force within the larger “resistance” movement. Jenkins profiles Washington political insiders—including former White House staffers and faith outreach directors for the campaigns of Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton—as well as a new generation of progressive faith leaders at the forefront today, including:
  • Rev. William Barber II, leader of North Carolina’s Moral Mondays and co-chair of the nationwide Poor People’s campaign
  • Linda Sarsour, co-chair of the Women’s March
  • Rev. Traci Blackmon, a pastor near Ferguson, Missouri who works to lift up black liberation efforts across the country
  • Sister Simone Campbell, head of the Catholic social justice lobby and the “Nuns on the Bus” tour organizer
  • Native American “water protectors” who demonstrated against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock
  • Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop

An exciting reevaluation of America’s moral center and an inspiring portrait of progressive faith-in-action, American Prophets will change the way we think about the intersection of politics and religion.
Visit Jack Jenkins's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Last Blue"

Coming soon from Pegasus Books: The Last Blue: A Novel by Isla Morley.

About the book, from the publisher:

A luminous narrative inspired by the fascinating real case of “the Blue People of Kentucky" that probes questions of identity, love, and family.

In 1937, there are recesses in Appalachia no outsiders have ever explored. Two government-sponsored documentarians from Cincinnati, Ohio—a writer and photographer—are dispatched to penetrate this wilderness and record what they find for President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. For photographer Clay Havens, the assignment is his last chance to reboot his flagging career. So when he and his journalist partner are warned away from the remote Spooklight Holler outside of town, they set off eagerly in search of a headline story. What they see will haunt Clay into his old age: Jubilee Buford, a woman whose skin is a shocking and unmistakable shade of blue. From this happenstance meeting between a woman isolated from society and persecuted her whole life, and a man accustomed to keeping himself at lens distance from others, comes a mesmerizing story in which the dark shades of betrayal, prejudice, fear, and guilt, are refracted along with the incandescent hues of passion and courage. Panning across the rich rural aesthetic of eastern Kentucky, The Last Blue is a captivating love story and an intimate portrait of what it is like to be truly one of a kind.
Learn more about the book and author at Isla Morley's website.

The Page 69 Test: Come Sunday.

Writers Read: Isla Morley (March 2014).

The Page 69 Test: Above.

My Book, The Movie: Above.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Passage West"

New from Ecco: Passage West: A Novel by Rishi Reddi.

About the book, from the publisher:

A sweeping, vibrant first novel following a family of Indian sharecroppers at the onset of World War I, revealing a little-known part of California history

1914: Ram Singh arrives in the Imperial Valley on the Mexican border, reluctantly accepting his friend Karak’s offer of work and partnership in a small cantaloupe farm. Ram is unmoored; fleeing violence in Oregon, he desperately longs to return to his wife and newborn son in Punjab—but he is duty bound to make his fortune first.

In the Valley, American settlement is still new and the rules are ever shifting. Alongside Karak; Jivan and his wife, Kishen; and Amarjeet, a U.S. soldier, Ram struggles to farm in the unforgiving desert. When he meets an alluring woman who has fought in Mexico’s revolution, he strives to stay true to his wife. The Valley is full of settlers hailing from other cities and different continents. The stakes are high and times are desperate—just one bad harvest or stolen crop could destabilize a family. And as anti- immigrant sentiment rises among white residents, the tensions of life in the west finally boil over.

In her ambitious debut novel, Rishi Reddi, award-winning author of Karma and Other Stories, explores an enduring question: Who is welcome in America? Richly imagined and beautifully rendered, Passage West offers a moving portrait of one man’s search for home.
Visit Rishi Reddi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 6, 2020

"The Silence of Bones"

New from Feiwel & Friends: The Silence of Bones by June Hur.

About the book, from the publisher:

June Hur's elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody YA historical mystery tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

I have a mouth, but I mustn't speak;
Ears, but I mustn't hear;
Eyes, but I mustn't see.


1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

As they delve deeper into the dead woman's secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.

But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.
Visit June Hur's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Stone Motel"

New from the University Press of Mississippi: Stone Motel: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy by Morris Ardoin.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the summers of the early 1970s, Morris Ardoin and his siblings helped run their family's roadside motel in a hot, buggy, bayou town in Cajun Louisiana. The stifling, sticky heat inspired them to find creative ways to stay cool and out of trouble. When they were not doing their chores—handling a colorful cast of customers, scrubbing motel-room toilets, plucking chicken bones and used condoms from under the beds—they played canasta, an old ladies’ game that provided them with a refuge from the sun and helped them avoid their violent, troubled father.

Morris was successful at occupying his time with his siblings and the children of families staying in the motel’s kitchenette apartments but was not so successful at keeping clear of his father, a man unable to shake the horrors he had experienced as a child and, later, as a soldier. The preteen would learn as he matured that his father had reserved his most ferocious attacks for him because of an inability to accept a gay or, to his mind, broken, son. It became his dad’s mission to “fix” his son, and Morris’s mission to resist—and survive intact. He was aided in his struggle immeasurably by the love and encouragement of a selfless and generous grandmother, who provides his story with much of its warmth, wisdom, and humor. There’s also suspense, awkward romance, naughty French lessons, and an insider’s take on a truly remarkable, not-yet-homogenized pocket of American culture.
Visit Morris Ardoin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Unscripted"

New from Amulet Books: Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer.

About the book, from the publisher:

A funny and timely debut YA about the toxic masculinity at a famous improv comedy camp

Seventeen-year-old Zelda Bailey-Cho has her future all planned out: improv camp, then Second City, and finally Saturday Night Live. She’s thrilled when she lands a spot on the coveted varsity team at a prestigious improv camp, which means she’ll get to perform for professional scouts—including her hero, Nina Knightley. But even though she’s hardworking and talented, Zelda’s also the only girl on Varsity, so she’s the target for humiliation from her teammates. And her 20-year-old coach, Ben, is cruel to her at practice and way too nice to her when they’re alone. Zelda wants to fight back, but is sacrificing her best shot at her dream too heavy a price to pay? Equal parts funny and righteous, Unscripted is a moving debut novel that Printz Award winner Nina LaCour calls “a truly special book, written at exactly the right time.”
Visit Nicole Kronzer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 5, 2020

"Three Tigers, One Mountain"

New from St. Martin's Press: Three Tigers, One Mountain: A Journey Through the Bitter History and Current Conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan by Michael Booth.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People, a lively tour through Japan, Korea, and China, exploring the intertwined cultures and often fraught history of these neighboring countries.

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” However, in East Asia, there are three tigers on that mountain: China, Japan, and Korea, and they have a long history of turmoil and tension with each other. In his latest entertaining and thought provoking narrative travelogue, Michael Booth sets out to discover how deep, really, is the enmity between these three “tiger” nations, and what prevents them from making peace. Currently China’s economic power continues to grow, Japan is becoming more militaristic, and Korea struggles to reconcile its westernized south with the dictatorial Communist north. Booth, long fascinated with the region, travels by car, ferry, train, and foot, experiencing the people and culture of these nations up close. No matter where he goes, the burden of history, and the memory of past atrocities, continues to overshadow present relationships. Ultimately, Booth seeks a way forward for these closely intertwined, neighboring nations.

An enlightening, entertaining and sometimes sobering journey through China, Japan, and Korea, Three Tigers, One Mountain is an intimate and in-depth look at some of the world’s most powerful and important countries.
Visit Michael Booth's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Pretty Things"

New from Random House: Pretty Things: A Novel by Janelle Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:

Two wildly different women—one a grifter, the other an heiress—are brought together by the scam of a lifetime in a page-turner from the New York Times bestselling author of Watch Me Disappear.

Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.

Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer—traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.

Nina’s, Vanessa’s, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.

This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play.
Learn more about the book and author at Janelle Brown's website.

The Page 69 Test: All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

The Page 69 Test: Watch Me Disappear.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Year 1000"

New from Scribner: The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World-and Globalization Began by Valerie Hansen.

About the book, from the publisher:

From celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen, a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium.

People often believe that the years immediately prior to AD 1000 were, with just a few exceptions, lacking in any major cultural developments or geopolitical encounters, that the Europeans hadn’t yet reached North America, and that the farthest feat of sea travel was the Vikings’ invasion of Britain. But how, then, to explain the presence of blonde-haired people in Maya temple murals at Chichén Itzá, Mexico? Could it be possible that the Vikings had found their way to the Americas during the height of the Maya empire?

Valerie Hansen, an award-winning historian, argues that the year 1000 was the world’s first point of major cultural exchange and exploration. Drawing on nearly thirty years of research, she presents a compelling account of first encounters between disparate societies, which sparked conflict and collaboration eerily reminiscent of our contemporary moment.

For readers of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, The Year 1000 is an intellectually daring, provocative account that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how the modern world came to be. It will also hold up a mirror to the hopes and fears we experience today.
The Page 99 Test: The Silk Road.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 4, 2020

"Why We Swim"

New from Algonquin Books: Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui.

About the book, from the publisher:

An immersive, unforgettable, and eye-opening perspective on swimming—and on human behavior itself.

We swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. We swim for pleasure, for exercise, for healing. But humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now, in the twenty-first century, swimming is one of the most popular activities in the world.

Why We Swim is propelled by stories of Olympic champions, a Baghdad swim club that meets in Saddam Hussein’s palace pool, modern-day Japanese samurai swimmers, and even an Icelandic fisherman who improbably survives a wintry six-hour swim after a shipwreck. New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep, from the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, investigating what about water—despite its dangers—seduces us and why we come back to it again and again.
Visit Bonnie Tsui's website.

--Marshal Zeringue