Staff Pick

As Kevin Young says in Bunk (Graywolf, $30), and as everyone is now all too aware, we are living in a “golden age of the hoax: the supposed age of information.” But this book is much more than a treatise on the “fake news” in the subtitle. It covers centuries of fakery, cataloged with a sense for detail and implication that showcases Young’s literary gifts—he’s a poet and critic who currently serves as poetry editor for The New Yorker. His stylistic flair only adds to the meaning of the book: thorough historical treatments on the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, P. T. Barnum’s freak shows, and “caught on film” fairies all forecast some very evidently personal treatments of contemporary hoaxers like Lance Armstrong, JT LeRoy, and Rachel Dolezal. This is a maximalist approach that takes on some deeply provocative recurring threads: namely, how racial hierarchies creep up as the unspoken root of so many hoaxes, and what separates artifice that’s presented as fiction or satire from something that’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes, no matter how benign and inventive it might seem. This is the kind of mammoth book you might never get to the bottom of, and that’s why it already feels like a landmark that will be studied for years. 

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977917
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - November 14th, 2017

Staff Pick

When I heard Toni Morrison was releasing a book with an introduction by Ta-Nehisi Coates this year, I was elated. The Origin of Others (Harvard, $22.95) gathers the Nobel laureate’s 2016 Norton lectures, in which Morrison discusses what it means to be considered the other in America. Focusing on race, she highlights how those who are not considered white must remain the “other” in order for racial hierarchies to stay intact. Realizing what this means comes by recognizing that we must deny parts of ourselves in order to make people we consider strangers to be just that —strangers. In order to analyze the many ways culture creates and reflects otherness, Morrison uses history, Southern literature, and personal anecdotes to illustrate her theory. Her lectures give an overview of many of her own novels, and readers will be inspired to read or reread them, along with those of the many writers Morrison presents.

The Origin of Others (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures #56) Cover Image
By Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780674976450
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Harvard University Press - September 18th, 2017

Staff Pick

In Tell Me How It Ends (Coffee House, $12.95) Valeria Luiselli gives an eye-opening account of her experience as a translator for an organization that seeks to help immigrant children during the 2014 American Immigration Crisis. As our world and our sociopolitical landscape continue to be shaped by immigration, Luiselli has given us a gift by writing a book which we can use as a tool to view the ongoing crisis through the eyes of someone personally committed to the cause. Combining anecdotal evidence with facts and figures, she crafts what is likely to be a definitive document of our current political climate. This slim volume powerfully conveys more emotion than its actual size suggests and is an indictment against the governments responsible for the crisis. Unlike Luiselli, they continually fail to show empathy for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions Cover Image
By Valeria Luiselli, Jon Lee Anderson (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781566894951
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Coffee House Press - April 4th, 2017