Staff Pick


In this extraordinary memoir, Yip-Williams chronicles the years following her diagnosis with stage IV cancer. She confronted the disease with everything she had: rage—especially on behalf of her young daughters and husband—fear, guilt, grief, and, occasionally, hope. A realist, Yip-Williams had a complicated relationship with hope, that source of “joy, terror, and despair.” Seeing it taunt with mirages of cures and miracles, she didn’t trust it. Yet if she failed to grab for every additional day of life, however iffy the treatment—would she be giving up? Is that how she wanted her children to remember her? By speaking so honestly about the physical, emotional, and spiritual toll of living with cancer, Yip-Williams put the disease on her terms—the very opposite of giving up.

The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525511359
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Random House - February 5th, 2019

Staff Pick

For most people, death casts the world in shades of darkness. For Kang, it conjures the blank nothingness of white. Focusing on the death of her older sister who lived for just two hours, Kang’s book is an unsettling, yet beautiful, meditation on mortality by way of a close focus on the color said to contain all the others. It begins with a list of fifteen kinds of white that, ranging from swaddling bands to shroud, serve as shorthand for the infant’s brief experience of the world. The rest of the work, in short bursts that rarely reach a page, expands on these items. Kang links the facts of her sister’s premature birth and even more premature death to snow, white doors, sugar, salt, ashes, a white dog, white hair, and so on. While always spare, the prose achieves a remarkable tonal fluidity, sounding by turns harrowing, matter-of-fact, questioning, and painfully lovely. A stretch of frozen sea was “like layer upon layer of dazzling white flowers captured in the moment of unfurling”—another image of nearly simultaneous life and death, but one very different from the sister’s. While at one level Kang is exploring timeless existentialist questions—none of the characters are named, emphasizing the narrative’s universal concerns—the book is also a powerful, highly literary, exploration of identity. The opening section is recounted by “I,” probably Kang’s persona, the second by an omniscient narrator following a “she,” likely Kang’s sister as the writer imagines her had she lived. But several parallels in the protagonists’ experience suggest that these two characters are one and the same, as if Kang, who talks of survivors “containing” the lost, has merged with her dead sister. The book leaves this and other possibilities open, just as the generous white space throughout implies a host of things unsaid and presences unacknowledged.

The White Book Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525573067
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Hogarth - February 19th, 2019

Staff Pick

Written in the cadences, if not the actual language, of water, Johnson’s shimmering first novel unfolds along a river. The narrative borrows from fairy tale and myth, telling a story in which everything is fluid and shifting, from relationships and identities to gender, language, and reality itself. This is a realm where conventions come unstuck, where a mysterious creature called the Bonak lurks, and where things and people are easily lost. Much of the action focuses on Gretel’s efforts to find Sarah, her mother, who went missing sixteen years before; now suffering from Alzheimer’s, as well as still harboring a number of secrets, Sarah remains elusive even when present. But Gretel, a lexicographer, is used to delving into the past (though often with ambiguous outcomes—the Bonak “might never have been there if we hadn’t thought it up,” she says). As her story widens to include those of others lost and found, Johnson spins an ever richer tale that meditates on ancient questions of fate vs free will as well as contemporary questions of family and sexuality.

Everything Under: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555978266
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Graywolf Press - October 23rd, 2018