Mohsin Hamid has consistently shown his brilliance at using literature to capture the tensions between Islam and the West, tensions that play out globally and in the granularity of people’s lives. His new novel is another testament to the power of his spare, elegant writing, and demonstrates his fearlessness in treading on uncomfortable political ground. A love story at its core, the novel exposes disquieting truths about secular and fundamentalist interpretations of religion, culture, and community. Moments of magical realism provide a potent metaphorical backdrop to the story, much of which takes place in a country never named. A stunning novel.
This is one of my favorite memoirs of the past year, written by a woman scientist barely known outside her field. Hope Jahren is a leading American botanist and her story is a passionate elegy to trees and plants, and to our fragile planet. A fine writer and story-teller, Jahren offers an entertaining and poignant portrait of her career as a woman in the sciences, as well as her life as a wife and mother confronting unforeseen challenges along the way. Small interludes about botany are illuminating and digestible. Especially wonderful are her descriptions of her eccentric colleagues and friends. This book is a pleasure.
Five years ago, 16-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed walking one evening in an Orlando suburb after picking up a soft drink and some Skittles at a 7-11. His death made him a household name, and his gray hoodie became an emblem of black men unfairly targeted on America’s streets. Rest in Power, a candid and inspiring new book by his parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, is a first-person narrative about how one mother and one father channeled grief over their son’s death into a national, non-violent social justice movement. If you think you know the whole story of Trayvon Martin, you probably don’t. That’s why you should read this excellent book.