Potomac author Vaddey Ratner survived the nightmare of the Khmer Rouge as a child growing up in Cambodia, and now she has turned that experience into In the Shadow of the Banyan (Simon & Schuster, $25), a graceful and memorable debut novel. In other hands the story might have been purely grim, but somehow Ratner manages to convey the injustice and horror of the Communist dictatorship’s atrocities while also celebrating a deeper humanity that, in its own way, triumphs in the end.

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451657708
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 7th, 2012

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781451657715
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 4th, 2013

Published in Portugal in 1980 and now appearing in English, José Saramago’s third novel, Raised from the Ground (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26), was worth the wait. A pivotal book in the late Nobel laureate’s development, this novel marks the debut of Saramago’s inimitable literary voice; digressive, ironic, humorous, graceful but impatient with “lyrical tosh,” it features a narrator who speaks as “we” and embraces all of humanity in a drama of good vs. evil. Leavening realism with allegory, the tale chronicles the lives of the Mau-Tempos, a family struggling—as their name, “bad weather” suggests— under a dark cloud. That cloud is poverty, compounded for these landless peasants by Portugal’s repressive Salazar regime. Scathing about the abuse of the poor by the rich and powerful, Saramago nonetheless writes from a deep faith in the pureheartedness and resilience of the human spirit, showing how even the most down-trodden will eventually rise up, and then—look out!

Raised from the Ground Cover Image
By José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780151013258
Availability: Out of Print in This Format
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - December 4th, 2012

Raised from the Ground Cover Image
By José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa (Translated by)
$20.99
ISBN: 9780544102736
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - November 19th, 2013

David Bezmozgis is a maestro of dislocation, a fascinated observer of the in-between. Here he centers on the Krasnansky family, a handful of the many Russian Jews stranded in 1970s Italy, waiting Beckett-like for visas and dreaming of The Free World (Picador, $15). Bezmozgis blends the Krasnanskys’ surreal limbo in Rome with the memories of the lives they left behind. By circling through each family member’s private reveries, we glimpse Soviet history across generations—a view that is both panoramic and incredibly intimate. From hardship in tsarist Russia to the heady idealism of the 1930s to the absurd Orwellian comedy of love affairs in Communist Latvia, Bezmozgis writes with nuance, humor, and a light, graceful touch. Every section feels immediate.
The Free World: A Novel Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9781250002518
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Published: Picador - March 27th, 2012

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