Staff Book Picks: May 2021

"In 2010, Lantern published Sistah Vegan, a landmark anthology edited by A. Breeze Harper that highlighted for the first time the diversity of vegan women of color's response to gender, class, body image, feminism, spirituality, the environment, diet, and nonhuman animals. Now, a decade later, its companion volume, Brotha Vegan, unpacks the lived experience of black men on veganism, fatherhood, politics, sexuality, gender, health, popular culture, spirituality, food, animal advocacy, the environment, and the many ways that veganism is lived and expressed within the Black community in the United States. Edited by Omowale Adewale-founder of Black Vegfest, and one of the leading voices for racial and economic justice, animal rights, and black solidarity-Brotha Vegan includes interviews with and articles by folks such as Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Doc (of Hip Hop is Green), chef Bryant Terry, physicians Anteneh Roba and Milton Mills, DJ Cavem, Stic of Dead Prez, Kimatni Rawlins, and many others. At once inspiring, challenging, and illuminating, Brotha Vegan illustrates the many ways it is possible to be vegan and reveals the leading edge of a "veganized" consciousness for social renewal"-- Provided by publisher.

Abgari︠a︡n, Narinė, author.

High above the Armenian mountains, villagers in the close-knit community of Maran bicker, gossip, and go about their daily lives sustaining one another. A plot to bring two residents together soon gives the village something new to gossip about.

Acho, Emmanuel, author.

"In Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, Acho takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many white Americans are afraid to ask--yet which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever. With the same open-hearted generosity that has made his video series a phenomenon, Acho explains the vital core of such fraught concepts as white privilege, cultural appropriation, and "reverse racism." In his own words, he provides a space of compassion and understanding in a discussion that can lack both. He asks only for the reader's curiosity--but along the way, he will galvanize all of us to join the antiracist fight." -- Provided by publisher.

Black, Cara, 1951- author.

"The story of Kate Rees, the young American markswoman who has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris on the dangerous business of trying to assassinate the Fuhrer. A country girl from rural Oregon--a grieving widow with no spy training, but a vendetta and a lot of gumption--now has the state of the entire war in her hands. When the hit goes badly wrong, Kate is on the run for her life--all the time wrestling with the suspicion that the whole operation was a set-up"-- Provided by publisher.

Blain, Cicely Belle, 1993- author.

"The latest from Vivek Shraya's VS. Books: a poetic exploration of Black identity, history, and lived experience influenced by the constant search for liberation. In this incendiary debut collection, activist and poet Cicely Belle Blain intimately revisits familiar spaces in geography, in the arts, and in personal history to expose the legacy of colonization and its impact on Black bodies. They use poetry to illuminate their activist work: exposing racism, especially anti-Blackness, and helping people see the connections between history and systemic oppression that show up in every human interaction, space, and community. Their poems demonstrate how the world is both beautiful and cruel, a truth that inspires overwhelming anger and awe--all of which spills out onto the page to tell the story of a challenging, complex, nuanced, and joyful life. In Burning Sugar, verse and epistolary, racism and resilience, pain and precarity are flawlessly sewn together by the mighty hands of a Black, queer femme. This book is the second title to be published under the VS. Books imprint, a series curated and edited by writer-musician Vivek Shraya, featuring work by new and emerging Indigenous or Black writers, or writers of color."-- Provided by publisher.

Brody, Leslie, 1952- author.

"The protagonist and anti-heroine of Louise Fitzhugh's masterpiece Harriet the Spy, first published first in 1964, continues to mesmerize generation after generation of readers. Harriet is an erratic, unsentimental, and endearing prototype--someone very like the woman who dreamed her up, author and artist Louise Fitzhugh. Born in 1928, Fitzhugh was raised in a wealthy home in segregated Memphis, and she escaped her cloistered world and made a beeline for New York as soon as she could. Her expanded milieu stretched from the lesbian bars of Greenwich Village to the dance clubs of Harlem, on to the resurgent artist studios of post-war New York, France, and Italy. Her circle of friends included artists like Maurice Sendak and playwrights like Lorraine Hansberry. In the 1960s, Fitzhugh wrote Harriet the Spy, and in doing so she introduced "new realism" into children's books -- she launched a genre of children's books that allowed characters to experience authentic feelings and acknowledged topics that were formerly considered taboo. Fitzhugh's books are full of resistance: to liars, to conformity, to authority, and even (radically, for a children's author) to make-believe. As a commercial children's author and lesbian, Fitzhugh often had to disguise the nature of her most intimate relationships. She lived her life as a dissenter--a friend to underdogs, outsiders, and artists--and her masterpiece remains long after her death to influence and provoke new generations of readers. Harriet is massively influential among girls and women in contemporary culture; she is the missing link between Jo March and Scout Finch, and it's not surprising that writers have thought of her as a kind of patron saint for misfit writers and unfeminine girls. This lively, rich biography brings Harriet's creator into the frame, shedding new light on an extraordinary author and her marvelous creation"-- Provided by publisher.

Brookner, Anita.

A lonely art historian absorbed in her research seizes the opportunity to share in the joys and pleasures of the lives of a glittering couple, only to find her hopes of companionship and happiness shattered.

Cormack, Raph, author.

"A vibrant portrait of the talented and entrepreneurial women who defined an era in Cairo. One of the world's greatest twentieth-century cosmopolitan cities, Cairo was a magnet for the ambitious and talented. During the 1920s and 30s, a vibrant music, theater, film, and cabaret scene flourished there, defining what it meant to be a "modern" Egyptian. Women came to dominate that scene-as stars but also as impresarias, entrepreneurs, owners, and promoters of the entertainment industry. Raphael Cormack unveils the rich histories of independent women like vaudeville star Rose al-Youssef (who launched one of Cairo's most important newspapers); nightclub singer Mounira al-Mahdiyya (the first woman to lead an Egyptian theater company); her great rival, Umm Kalthoum (still venerated for her soulful lyrics); and other fabulous female stars. Buffeted by crosswinds of colonialism and nationalism, conservatism and liberalism, "religious" and "secular" values, patriarchy and feminism, this new generation of celebrity opened new horizons of possibility for women in Egypt and throughout the Middle East"-- Provided by publisher.

DiCaro, Julie, author.

"Shrill meets Brotopia in this personal and researched look at women's rights and issues through the lens of sports, from an award-winning sports journalist and women's advocate"-- Provided by publisher.

DiFranco, Ani, author.

"A memoir by the celebrated singer-songwriter and social activist Ani DiFranco In her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, Ani DiFranco recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. In these frank, honest, passionate, and often funny pages is the tale of one woman's eventful and radical journey to the age of thirty. Ani's coming of age story is defined by her ethos of fierce independence--from being an emancipated minor sleeping in a Buffalo bus station, to unwaveringly building a career through appearances at small clubs and festivals, to releasing her first album at the age of 18, to consciously rejecting the mainstream recording industry and creating her own label, Righteous Babe Records. In these pages, as in life, she never hesitates to challenge established rules and expectations, maintaining a level of artistic integrity that has impressed many and antagonized more than a few. Ani continues to be a major touring and recording artist as well as a celebrated activist and feminist, standing as living proof that you can overcome all personal and societal obstacles to be who you are and to follow your dreams"-- Provided by publisher.

Dorian, Pat, author, artist.

"A stunning graphic debut: the life of the legendary silent-film actor Lon Chaney (the original Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame), as imagined by an artist whose work recalls the style and skill of early-era New Yorker cartoonists. From the artist: " 'No one will ever love me!' I believe it was this near-universal fear that makes Lon Chaney's characters continue to resonate with us today. On their surface, most of them are distinctly unlikeable: they are monsters, outcasts, criminals. But through his unique magic, Chaney makes them empathetic. He pioneered the craft of make-up artist long before that term ever existed, and he used his expertise to hide himself from public view--what if nobody loved him?""-- Provided by publisher.

Drayden, Nicky, author.

In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yesthe days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .An emerging AI uprising . . .And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.Its up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure theres a future left to worry about.Fun and fantastic, Nicky Drayden takes her brilliance as a short story writer and weaves together an elaborate tale that will capture your heart . . . even as one particular demigoddess threatens to rip it out.

Gaiman, Neil, author.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

Green, Elon, author.

""In this astonishing and powerful work of nonfiction, Green meticulously reports on a series of baffling and brutal crimes targeting gay men. It is an investigation filled with twists and turns, but this is much more than a compelling true crime story. Green has shed light on those whose lives for too long have been forgotten, and rescued an important part of American history." -David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon The gripping true story, told here for the first time, of the Last Call Killer and the gay community of New York City that he preyed upon. The Townhouse Bar, midtown, July 1992: The piano player seems to know every song ever written, the crowd belts out the lyrics to their favorites, and a man standing nearby is drinking a Scotch and water. The man strikes the piano player as forgettable. He looks bland and inconspicuous. Not at all what you think a serial killer looks like. But that's what he is, and tonight, he has his sights set on a gray haired man. He will not be his first victim. Nor will he be his last. The Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in New York in the '80s and '90s and had all the hallmarks of the most notorious serial killers. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, the skyhigh murder rates, and the AIDS epidemic, his murders have been almost entirely forgotten. This gripping true-crime narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer and the decades-long chase to find him. And at the same time, it paints a portrait of his victims and a vibrant community navigating threat and resilience"-- Provided by publisher.

Hardiman, Rebecca, author.

"When Kevin Gogarty's irrepressible eighty-three-year-old mother, Millie, is caught shoplifting yet again, he has no choice but to hire a caretaker to keep an eye on her. Kevin, recently unemployed, is already at his wits' end tending to a full house while his wife travels to exotic locales for work, leaving him solo with his sulky, misbehaved teenaged daughter, Aideen, whose troubles escalate when she befriends the campus rebel at her new boarding school. Into the Gogarty fray steps Sylvia, Millie's upbeat home aide, who appears at first to be their saving grace--until she catapults the Gogarty clan into their greatest crisis yet."--Amazon.

Hendrix, Grady, author.

"A supernatural thriller set in South Carolina in the '90s about a women's book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious stranger who turns out to be a real monster"-- Provided by publisher.

Higgins, Eliot, author.

"In 2018, Russian exile Sergei Skripal and his daughter were nearly killed in an audacious poisoning attempt in Salisbury, England. Soon, the identity of one of the suspects was revealed: he was a Russian spy. This huge investigative coup wasn't pulled off by an intelligence agency or a traditional news outlet. Instead, the scoop came from Bellingcat, the open-source investigative team that is redefining the way we think about news, politics, and the digital future. We Are Bellingcat tells the inspiring story of how a college dropout pioneered a new category of reporting and galvanized citizen journalists-working together from their computer screens around the globe-to crack major cases, at a time when fact-based journalism is under assault from authoritarian forces. Founder Eliot Higgins introduces readers to the tools Bellingcat investigators use, tools available to anyone, from software that helps you pinpoint the location of an image, to an app that can nail down the time that photo was taken. This book digs deep into some of Bellingcat's most important investigations-the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine, Assad's use of chemical weapons in Syria, the identities of alt-right protestors in Charlottesville-with the drama and gripping detail of a spy novel."--Amazon.

Holmberg, Charlie N., 1988-

"Bound to a magic she never wanted, a young apprentice falls deeper into its mysteries when she must use everything she's learned from her master in order to save him, and his heart"--P. [4] of cover.

Jacobsen, Roy, 1954- author.

"Islanders are never afraid, if they were, they wouldn't be able to live here. Born on the island that bears her name, Ingrid Barrøy's world is circumscribed by storm-scoured rocks and the moods of the sea by which her family lives and dies. But her father dreams of a bridge, and her mother longs for her own childhood island, and Norway faces its own sea change: the advent of a modern world and its attendant unpredictability and violence. Brilliantly translated into English by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, The Unseen is a profound exploration of family, resilience, and fate."-- Provide by publisher.

Jenkins, Beverly, 1951- author.

Valinda Lacy's mission is to help the newly emancipated survive and flourish in post-Civil War New Orleans. When thugs destroy her school and target her, she runs for her life--into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq. An architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake admires Valinda's determination but when her father demands she return home to marry another man, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.

Johnson, Nancy, author. (Vocalist)

Needing to reconnect with the baby she gave up for adoption years earlier, an Ivy League-educated Black engineer uncovers devastating family secrets before her bond with a young white misfit scandalizes her racially torn community.

Ko, Lisa, author.

"One morning, Deming Guo's mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. Set in New York and China, the Leavers is the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he's loved has been taken away--and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past" --Publisher description.

Kushner, Rachel, author.

"It's 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, deep in California's Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living" --Publisher description.

Loedel, Daniel, author.

"A decade after fleeing the violence of Argentina's Dirty War, a man discovers he must grapple with the ghosts of his past. It was the most obvious thing in the world that I'd follow her wherever she went. I always had. In 1976, Tomás Oriilla is a medical student in Buenos Aires, where he's moved in hopes of reuniting with Isabel, a childhood crush. But the reckless passion that has always drawn him is leading Isabel ever deeper into the ranks of young insurgents fighting an increasingly oppressive regime. As its thuggish milicos begin to disappear more and more people like her, she presents Tomás with a way to prove himself. As always, he'll do anything for Isabel. But what exactly is he proving, and at what cost to them both? It will be years before the reckoning arrives, in the form of a call that comes for Tomás, now living as Thomas Shore in New York. An old family friend is dying. But it isn't the chance to say goodbye that pulls him back to Buenos Aires after all these years. It's the memory of her daughter, and what proves to be an undying love. Raising profound questions about the choices we make in the name of love and allegiance, and the hell of unknowable consequences, Hades, Argentina is a gripping, brilliantly narrated literary debut"-- Provided by publisher.

Lukens, F. T., author.

Sixteen-year-old Prince Tal is on his long-awaited coming-of-age tour when he meets the intriguing and roguish Athlen, and when he is kidnapped by pirates, Athlen is his only hope of escape.

Mans, Jasmine, author.

"A literary coming-of-age poetry collection, an ode to the places we call home, and a piercingly intimate deconstruction of daughterhood, Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing. As a competitive spoken-word poet who draws large crowds of people, Jasmine Mans's collection is divided into six sections, each with a corresponding active telephone number where she has recorded excerpts of her poems. You can listen now, just dial! Using poetry to bring change to the world with positive agitation and hoping to prompt dialogue where there is normally fear, poet Jasmine Mans explores the intersection of race, feminism, and queer identity in her latest collection Black Girl, Call Home..."-- Provided by publisher.

Menon, Sandhya, author.

Told in two voices, disappointed-in-love Ashish Patel and self-proclaimed fat athlete Sweetie Nair begin to find their true selves while dating under contract.

Meyer, Marissa.

As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.

Miller, Chanel, author.

"She was know to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral--viewed by almost eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time. Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways--there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life. "Know My Name" will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic." -- summary from book jacket.

Neubauer, Erica Ruth, author.
Polzin, Jackie, 1979- author.

"Our nameless narrator stubbornly tries to keep her small brood of four chickens alive and safe over the course of one savage winter in Minnesota. Woefully unprepared for the task, she battles the relentless predators, severe weather and unforeseen bad luck--all the while grieving a recent miscarriage, and coming to terms with her infertility and the accompanying uncertainty that her future holds. Intimate and startlingly original, this slender novel is packed with sorrow and joy. Brood is a stunning meditation on longing, grief, and relentless hope"-- Provided by publisher.

Rio, M. L., author.

Entreated to tell his side of the story to a detective who put him in prison a decade earlier for a murder he may not have committed, Oliver Marks describes his past as a Shakespearean actor in college whose rivalry with a castmate escalated in dangerous ways.

Robins, Navi', author.

A wealthy Chicago man with a beautiful wife and son is haunted by the warning from a mysterious assassin from South Sudan, who promised to return one day and finish the job he started.

Scott, Rion Amilcar, author.

"Deftly spinning genres of his feverish literary invention, Rion Amilcar Scott creates his very own Yoknapatawpha County with fictional Cross River, Maryland. Established by the leaders of America's only successful slave revolt, the town still evokes the fierce rhythms of its founding. Among its residents are David Sherman, a struggling musician who just happens to be God's last son; Tyrone, a ruthless PhD candidate, whose dissertation about a childhood game ignites mayhem in the neighboring, once-segregated town of Port Yooga; and Jim, an all-too-obedient robot who serves his Master. Culminating with an explosive novella, these haunting stories of the denizens of Cross River serve to explore larger themes of religion, violence, and love--all told with sly humor and a dash of magical realism."-- Provided by publisher.

Serna, Isabel, author.

You know you're a dog mom when ... you spell out the word 'walk' so as not to overexcite your pet. You plan your dog's Halloween costume months in advance. You read cutely illustrated books that humorously celebrate the unique bond between woman and dog. And your ultimate dream is to be smothered by puppies.

Thapp, Manjit, author, illustrator.

""How are you feeling?" It's a difficult question to answer, let alone capture in visual form. But Manjit Thapp, popular Instagram artist and illustrator of The Little Book of Feminist Saints, does just that with touching honesty, exploring the depth, variety, and manifestation of the emotions that we all share, but often struggle to articulate. With lyrical, poetic prose and stunning graphic art, this book excavates what lies beneath that all too-common response and emboldens us to celebrate, and truly feel, our feelings. Thapp carries us along as she experiences various emotions throughout the year, working her way through the six seasons of the Indian calendar. From the spark of possibility and jolt of creativity in High Summer to the desolation and numbness of Winter, Thapp implores us to consider the seasons of our own emotional journeys and the moods that can change as quickly as the weather, allowing us to take stock and take comfort"-- Provided by publisher.

Tomar, Ruchika, author.

Set adrift when her grandfather passes away, Cale takes a waitressing job and reconnects with Penny, a former classmate who runs side-hustles to finance her dreams, but when Penny vanishes, Cale sets off on a dangerous quest across the desert to find her.

Tychonievich, Joseph, author.

"Like having your own personal gardening mentor at your side, The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food is the story of Mia, an eager young professional who wants to grow her own vegetables but doesn't know where to start, and George, her retired neighbor who loves gardening and walks her through each step of the process. Throughout the book, "cheat sheets" sum up George's key facts and techniques, providing a handy quick reference for anyone starting their first vegetable garden, including how to find the best location, which vegetables are easiest to grow, how to pick out the healthiest plants at the store, when (and when not) to water, how to protect your plants from pests, and what to do with extra produce if you grow too much. If you are a visual learner, beginning gardener, looking for something new, or have struggled to grow vegetables in the past, you'll find this unique illustrated format ideal because many gardening concepts--from proper planting techniques to building raised beds--are easier to grasp when presented visually, step by step. Easy and entertaining, The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food makes homegrown vegetables fun and achievable."--Amazon

Wilson, Carter (Novelist), author.

"Twenty years ago a boy disappeared, and only Rose and her family know what happened to him. Haunted by guilt, Rose escaped into a new life. Now she has it all: a marriage, a son, a career. And then her husband is found dead. As far as Detective Colin Pearson is concerned, Rose is guilty. Her marriage wasn't as happy as she'd led everyone to believe, and worse, she's connected to a twenty-year-old cold case. She can play the part of the victim, but he won't let her or her family escape justice this time around. Grieving her husband and struggling to make ends meet, Rose returns home hoping to finally confront her domineering father and unstable sister. But memories of a horrific crime echo through the house, and Rose soon learns that she can't trust anyone, especially not the people closest to her"-- Provided by publisher.