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Appearing MONDAY, MARCH 28, 7 p.m. at P&P
If you have been in the store, you may have heard me rave about THE TIGER'S WIFE (Random House, $25), Téa Obreht’s debut novel about a young woman doctor in Yugoslavia and the legacy of stories she’s inherited from her grandfather. You also may have received a taste yourself when a portion of the novel was included last year in the New Yorker's Summer Fiction 20 Under 40. Now that it’s finally here, the reviews from The New York Times and The Washington Post overflow with adulation; I can finally place it in readers’ hands and share my enthusiasm with more than a description.
The authority and assuredness with which the book unfolds belies the fact that The Tiger’s Wife is a first novel written by twenty-something author. Obreht’s narrator, Natalia, is on a mission to inoculate children at an orphanage in a town once separated from her own by a civil war. While she’s there, she learns of the death of her grandfather, the source of all of her childhood stories. She informs the reader:
Everything necessary to understand my grandfather lies between two stories: the story of the tiger’s wife, and the story of the deathless man. These stories run like secret rivers through all the other stories of his life.
Fantastic and fable-like, these powerful stories from Natalia’s grandfather’s childhood make up a large part of the novel. They embody timeless ideas: courage, honor, trust, and - in the story of the deathless man, matters of life and death. As she travels to her grandfather’s hometown, Natalia learns that the stories are actually born of real events and real people.
In the town where the orphanage is located, a group of diggers are searching for the body of their kinsman killed during the recent war. They’re convinced that until they are able repatriate the remains, sickness will continue to plague the families. Natalia becomes interested in the diggers’ children, hoping she can inoculate them, too, but the parents’ belief in the magical source of the illness confounds her. This juxtaposition between superstition and reality, between magic and medicine, contributes to the richness of the novel.
The Tiger’s Wife is an amazing book, the heralding of a phenomenal literary talent. We are so very pleased to host Téa Obreht this coming Monday, March 28 and certainly hope you will join us in welcoming this extraordinarily talented, debut novelist.
- Mark LaFramboise
Click here to watch the video our booksellers have made about the book!
We're highlighting a few titles recently back in print. It is rare to see more than one print run from a press like Dark Horse Comics, whose books often go unnoticed by the mainstream, literary book consumer. Not so with these titles.
Originally published a decade ago in Europe, BLACKSAD, by Juanjo Guarnido and Juan Diaz Canales, follows the misadventures of John Blacksad, a 1950s-era, feline private investigator, in gorgeous watercolors. It finally arrived in the United States last year and has now hit its third printing.
MESMO DELIVERY has a European clear line sensibility yet is infused with the grittiness and fevered hatching of work by R. Crumb. Rafael Grampá's frenetic, highly creative book is now in its second printing and unquestionably deserves an introduction to new readers.
Finally, serialized between 1990 and 1996 (then briefly collected in 1998 and long unavailable), CAGES, by Dave McKean, is back! McKean explores the elusive themes of creation, art, and love in a wild illustrative style, mixing both technique and media to glorious effect. These three are books that improve with age!
Click here to read our entire employee reviews about these and other favorites.
Monday, March 14, 7 p.m.
MOONWALKING WITH EINSTEIN (Penguin Press, $26.95)
Monday, March 14, 7 p.m.
MOONWALKING WITH EINSTEIN (Penguin Press, $26.95)
On February 20, Joshua Foer included a short piece about his memory competition preparations and exploits in a New York Times Magazine article. In his book, he also explores how the social use and purpose of memory has changed as we have shifted from preliterate to an overly literate culture. It is fascinating material; I can’t wait to hear more from him in person, and begin trying his tips on building my own “memory palace.”
Anyone would think that, as a student of foreign languages, I would be adept at memorizing vocabulary, conversational dialogues, songs, and poetry. And yet those drills cause me to struggle; it has always been the experience of speaking - especially in another country - that makes the languages “sticky,” as Foer says.
As it turns out, this experiential component to language acquisition makes a lot of sense. As Foer explains, making the memories adhere to something tangible is the goal and an important tool in memorizing anything, whether strangers’ names, punchlines for jokes, facts or dates. He visually places images in a very real location in his mind. He uses his childhood home, museums, buildings that he can imagine walking around and seeing clues in order to aid his memory recall. His book is filled with anecdotes and suggestions. This is going to be an exciting event! Click here for more information and to buy the book.
- Andrew Getman
Politics & Prose is giving away two pairs of tickets to our event with Joshua Foer on Monday, March 14 at 7pm. The event will be held at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.
Foer's wide-ranging primer on memory, Moonwalking with Einstein, looks back to ancient mnemonic techniques, such as the memory palace, and presents today's cutting-edge cognitive research on how we remember. In between, he profiles both prodigious memorizers and victims of severe amnesia, and offers an inside look at the National Memory Championships. Two tickets free with book purchase, $10 each, or enter to win our giveaway.
TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
Tweet us your answer to the question below. You can find us on Twitter @politics_prose.
Anyone with a correct response will be entered into a random drawing to be held on Tuesday, March 8. We will announce the two winners on our Twitter feed.
Through a recent January author event, we are only two degrees from Michael Jackson, who popularized the moonwalk dance move in his music video for the song "Billie Jean." Name the two people who separate us from the King of Pop.
Thanks for participating and good luck!
“Each week we
choose a theme, and bring you a variety of different stories on that theme...”
You can always count on Mike Birbiglia for laugh-til-you-cry driveway moments. And if you want to introduce someone to the show (or spark a lifelong T.A.L. addiction) Elna Baker’s hilariously shocking expose of the doll department at F.A.O. Schwartz is a prime place to start. Darin Strauss’s Half a Life might be the saddest story you’ve ever heard on the radio -- but it also might be among the best.
- The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God: And Other Stories, by Etgar Keret (Toby Press, $12.95)
- The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir, by Elna Baker (Plume, $15)
- Half Empty, by David Rakoff (Doubleday, $24.95)
MARCH IS FOR IRISH AUTHORS
These are books that we love to recommend.
His most recent novel Brooklyn has been a huge success, and Colm Toíbín has received a starred review for his newest collection, THE EMPTY FAMILY: Stories (Scribner, $24). Kirkus declared that it is "Likely to rank with the best story collections of the year…[It] reconfirms his mastery.” And in her New York Times review of the stories, described as "affecting . . . sensitive . . . nuanced", Francine Prose wonders," Why does the short story lend itself so naturally to the muted but still shattering sentiments of yearning, nostalgia and regret?" She continues, "Retrospect is a major player in these dramas; regret makes its entrance onstage, and a character relives the sort of experience recalled for the obvious reason that it was so painful. . . For Toibin, memory seems not merely a function of the heart but proof that the heart exists." -- Andrew Getman
Seamus Heaney’s poetry is loved for many reasons. “Like a nest/of cross hatched grass blades,” it offers the textures of nature, down to the soil and roots; it explores history, with special attention to the past as encapsulated in words’ etymologies; it endows the everyday with touches of myth and magic; and it coaxes some amazing rhythms and sounds from English. HUMAN CHAIN: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24), the Nobel laureate’s twelfth collection, features all this and more. Opening and closing with a wind blowing, the book recognizes that time passes and things change, but at its core, this work honors what lasts. Solid objects—farm machines, books, pens—abound here, and “everywhere plants/flourish among graves.” The volume’s many elegies stand less as testimonials to loss than as vivid portraits of vital individuals, each forming a link in the “human chain” of sustaining friendships that’s as solid and beautiful a handicraft as any of the material artifacts. - Laurie Greer
And for a survey of the literature you might pick up THE GRANTA BOOK OF THE IRISH SHORT STORY, edited by Anne Enright (Grove Press, $27.95) or AN ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN IRISH POETRY, edited by Wes Davis (Belknap, $35).
BOOK GROUPS AT P&P
If you are not already a subscriber, take a look at our monthly Book Group email. It always contains helpful advice and suggested reading for Book Group organizers and participants. The most recent issue features podcasts of the Book Group discussion, which we hosted in the store on January 31, and an interview with Julie Orringer about her extraordinarily popular book THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE (Vintage, $15.95). Click here to read the conversation which our Floor Supervisor and Book-a-Month Coordinator Elizabeth Sher had with Ms. Orringer.
If you would like to receive the book group e-mail, please send a message to email@example.com with "Book Group E-mail Subscribe" in the subject line. Your address will be added to our list.
Politics & Prose currently hosts sixteen different book groups in the store each month. P&P's book groups meet monthly and are free and open to the public. Click here to learn more about participating in a Politics & Prose book group and to see the entire month of upcoming meetings and book selections. Please join us!
- Lacey Dunham and Bill Leggett, Book Group Coordinators
MODERN TIMES COFFEEHOUSE TURNS FIVE!
Tuesday, March 1 was the fifth anniversary of the Modern Times Coffeehouse at Politics & Prose. According to Javier’s calculations, the café has gone through about 23,000 pounds of coffee beans in the last 5 years. Holy frijoles!
Please join us in wishing our friends and colleagues in the café a very happy anniversary!
February has brought two fantastic books, both set in the Pacific Northwest.
The past and the present merge in the fictional town of Pont Bonita in WEST OF HERE by Jonathan Evison (Algonquin, $24.95). The novel tells two parallel stories set about a century apart, one the formation of this town as a thriving community and the other its present day slide into irrelevance. Compelling characters from both periods must decide how their lives will develop and evolve as the place they call home changes around them. Evison has really created two narratives that feed off each other and create a wonderful whole.
Mark your calendars as we are looking forward to hosting Jonathan Evison on Wednesday, March 9 at 7 p.m.
- Reviewed by Bill Leggett