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

Staff Pick

Patti Smith is a collector of dreams and dream-like moments. Her Paris is “grainy bits of film swirl” spliced with her memories of earlier visits. Smith turns these images into guiding spirits and follows where they lead, making art—writing and photographs—along the way. Devotion (Yale, $18) is both a map and an artifact of this creative journey. It opens with a pilgrimage to Camus’s house, Simone Weil’s grave, and Modiano’s Paris streets that could be one more stop on the M Train. But rather than an end in itself, this essay is a staging ground for the “alchemy” that transforms random details of daily life—the color of the sky, the program on TV—into a work of fiction. “Devotion,” the book’s centerpiece, is a modern fairy tale about art and identity, love and autonomy. Both hauntingly lovely and slightly disturbing, as fairy tales are, it follows sixteen-year-old Eugenia as she pursues her passion for figure skating. This is an art whose very means are ephemeral, yet for Eugenia, who has lost her parents, her aunt, and her lover, it’s a reliable solace and a lasting inspiration, just as, for Smith, “the decisive power of a singular work” is always an irresistible “call to action” to make something herself.

Devotion (Why I Write) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300218626
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Yale University Press - September 12th, 2017