The Ninth Hour - Alice McDermott

Staff Pick

Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26) is a stunning novel.  Stunning in its intelligence.  Stunning in its compassion.  Stunning in its lucidity and clear-eyed storytelling. As the story begins, a young man commits suicide and inadvertently sets his apartment on fire.  When his young, pregnant wife learns of it, she is immediately taken under the wing of an elderly Catholic nun, Sister St. Savior, whose vocation is to tend to people undergoing tragedy.  With her baby girl in tow, the young widow finds work in the convent laundry and she and her daughter become part of the sisters’ community.  That child, Polly, aspires to a clerical vocation, but her idealism pales with her understanding of the religious life and she falls in love and gets married. That this short novel can span an entire generation with such unerring economy and power is truly a testament to McDermott’s skill. Like the best of her earlier books, The Ninth Hour is a literary treasure.

The Ninth Hour: A Novel By Alice McDermott Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374280147
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 19th, 2017

Sing, Unburied, Sing - Jesmyn Ward

Staff Pick

In Sing, Unburied, Sing (Simon & Schuster, $26) Jesmyn Ward takes magical realism and uses it as a device through which readers can hear the marginalized voices of the Mississippi Gulf coast. Our main character is thirteen-year-old Jojo, who is taken on a road trip with his drug-addicted mother, Leonie, when his father is released from prison. Both Jojo and Leonie become haunted by ghosts, Leonie by her brother’s, and Jojo by the spirt of a young boy, as the two travel across the South. Ward tells this story with beautiful prose and brings light into the darkness of the American past. We are shown how important it is to understand our personal histories and how they continue to affect our futures. Each character here is endearing in his or her own way. This book is compelling because of the way it merges the past with the present. While each character is flawed, Ward humanizes all of them and shows how compassion is necessary when learning about the lives of people we often shun or overlook. This is a great book for anyone who loves to read William Faulkner or Toni Morrison.

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501126062
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - September 5th, 2017

Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi

Staff Pick

Ambitious in scope and impressive in execution, Homegoing (Knopf, $26.95) begins in eighteenth-century Ghana with the stories of Esi and Effia, half-sisters—though they don’t know that—whose lives take wildly different paths. Deftly charting parallel histories, debut novelist Yaa Gyasi follows Esi as she is captured by British slave-traders, taken across the Atlantic, and sold into bondage, and, without missing a beat, also traces Effia’s more materially comfortable fate as the wife of the white British governor in charge of overseeing operations related to the export of human chattel. The narrative chronicles both sides of the women’s sundered family, tracing their descendants through seven generations and three hundred years of American and Ghanaian history. In alternating perspectives, Gyasi introduces Esi’s and Effia’s many children, cousins, and spouses, narrating their various experiences and fortunes. These richly told episodes could stand alone as satisfying short stories; as parts of Gyasi’s colorful epic-scale project, they echo larger themes in telling and surprising ways. The combination of Gyasi’s often lyrical prose, the brutal events and lasting joys she recounts, and the diverse, personable characters, make this a haunting and powerful tale of African American life from the collapse of the ancient Ashanti Empire and the callousness of European colonialism to the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and post-colonial Ghana.

Homegoing: A novel By Yaa Gyasi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101947135
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - June 7th, 2016

Homegoing By Yaa Gyasi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101971062
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - May 2nd, 2017