Publishers Weekly
2013
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Nihad Sirees, trans. by Max Weiss

Publishers Weekly Syrian writer Sirees takes on, with piercing insight, the huge themes of freedom, individuality, integrity, and, yes, love, in this beautiful, funny, and life-affirming novel, his first to be translated into English. On the 20th anniversary of an unnamed despot's rule, in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, Fathi Sheen, a silenced writer, is caught in the frenzy of the crowd that "turns all those individuals into droplets in a raging human flood." He runs afoul of the security forces and his ID is confiscated; he arrives at his mother's house to learn that she is planning to marry a man high up in the regime; and on his way to see his girlfriend Lama, "a liberated woman who owns herself," he has a series of absurd encounters as he confronts the noise of the streets-the "roar"-and indulges in laughter and sex to resist the government that would have him "compose poetry that glorifies the leader and write heroic novels." Originally published in 2004, the novel indisputably connects to current events, but its value as art and political commentary is timeless. Sirees has written a 1984 for the 21st century. Agent: Jane Loudon. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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2013
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Anthony Marra

Publishers Weekly Marra's sobering, complex debut intertwines the stories of a handful of characters at the end of the second war in bleak, apocalyptic Chechnya. Though the novel spans 11 years, the story traces five days in 2004 following the arrest of Dokka, a villager from the small Muslim village of Eldar. His eight-year-old daughter escapes, and is rescued by Dokka's friend Akhmed, the village doctor, who entrusts her to the care of Sonja, the lone remaining doctor at a nearby hospital. Why Akhmed feels responsible for Haava and chooses Sonja, an ethnic Russian keeping a vigil for her missing sister, as her guardian is one of many secrets; years of Soviet rule and the chaos of war have left these people unaccustomed to honesty. Marra, a Stegner Fellow, writes dense prose full of elegant detail about the physical and emotional destruction of occupation and war. Marra's deliberate withholding of narrative detail makes the characters opaque, until all is revealed, in a surprisingly hopeful way, but there's pleasure in reconstructing the meaning in reverse. As Akhmed says to Sonja, "The whole book is working toward the last page." Agent: Janet Silver, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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2013
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Carla Kaplan

Publishers Weekly Northeastern University literature and gender studies scholar Kaplan (Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters) shares the previously untold story of a group of notable white women who embraced black culture-and life-in Harlem in the 1920s and '30s. Collectively known as "Miss Anne," these women served as hostesses, patrons, activists, comrades, lovers, writers, and editors at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was at its height, and when a white woman who became intimate with a "Negro" faced almost certain ostracism. A captivating group biography and social history, the book focuses on six women: Lillian Wood (Let My People Go), a teacher at a small black college; Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, a Texan heiress who married black journalist George Schuyler and became a writer herself, yet had to keep her interracial marriage hidden from her family; Barnard college founder Annie Nathan Meyer; influential patron Charlotte Osgood Mason; novelist Frannie Hurst; and English heiress Nancy Cunard. An empathetic and skillful writer, Kaplan has produced a valuable addition to the history of the period. As she shows, Miss Anne defied categorization, transcending her race, class, and gender, and introducing many of the ideas we hold today about inclusiveness and self-reinvention. 54 b&w photos and two 8-page color inserts. Agent: Brettne Bloom, Kneerim & Williams. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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2013
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Robert Kolker

Publishers Weekly In stark contrast to the ugliness of the story, Kolker's sad tale of five young women linked by the tragic circumstances of their disappearances is beautifully and provocatively written. The book opens with a prologue that casts an appropriately eerie pall on the proceedings: after arriving late one spring night at Long Island's Oak Beach, Shannan Gilbert, an escort who was in the area to see a client, began banging on doors and screaming for help. Her pleas went unanswered, and then she disappeared. That was in 2010. Seven months later, the corpses of four women-also escorts-were found nearby. Kolker, a contributing editor at New York magazine, outlines each woman's descent into a world "that many of their loved ones could not imagine," and in doing so renders each as fully fleshed out individuals forced to make tough decisions to navigate a tough world. Just the right amount of detail will make all but the hardest-hearted empathetic. Add a baffling whodunit that remains, as the subtitle indicates, unsolved, and you have a captivating true crime narrative that's sure to win new converts and please longtime fans of the genre. 10 maps & timeline. Agents: David Gernert and Chris Parris-Lamb, The Gernert Company. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Library Journal The lack of resolution is a foregone conclusion in Kolker's (contributing editor, New York) book about the serial murders in Long Island from 2007 to 2010 of five sex workers who advertised their services on Craigslist: it's right there in the title. However, Kolker's portrait of the young women and their families will draw readers in despite the frustration they will feel at the book's end. Although all five of the victims profiled were sex workers, Kolker does not condescend or dismiss the women as lost causes. While the author doesn't shy away from the more brutal aspects of the women's lives, he avoids the what-did-they-expect undercurrent that pervades reporting about murdered or injured sex workers. He tells their stories as completely as possible, presenting them as whole people, reminding the reader with the complexity of each woman's story that "the issue of blame itself, in the end, may be a trap. They weren't angels. They weren't devils." VERDICT Readers may find themselves checking in with the case in the future, hoping for some justice for the lost girls. Recommended for all true crime readers, particularly those in the New York area.-Kate Sheehan, Waterbury, CT (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2013
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Hanya Yanagihara

Library Journal Yanagihara's debut novel details the life of fictional doctor and Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Abraham Norton Perina, who narrates his travels to the Micronesian islands of Ivu'ivu and U'ivu, where the secret to longevity is revealed to him. Perina learns that members of a primitive tribe who live to be 60 years old (o'anas) are given the privilege during a special ceremony of consuming the meat of the opa'ivu'eke, a rare turtle. He soon finds out, however, that there is an unfortunate side effect to living up to 200 o'anas. Upon his return stateside, Perina continues his research and regular visits to the islands, gradually adopting 43 island children who he is later accused of sexually abusing. -VERDICT Yanagihara's work, which appears to be loosely based on the life of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, is fast-moving and intriguing, although it does darken toward the end. Yanagihara is definitely an author to watch. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/13.]-Shirley Quan, Orange Cty. P.L. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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