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WHAT WE'RE READING

Alice’s Picks

Alice reads mostly literary fiction and narrative non-fiction, but when she reads a good mystery, she wonders why she doesn’t do that more. And while she also likes to read poetry, she’d rather hear poets read or perform their work in person. Her favorite place to read is on her front porch on long summer evenings.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Other Black Girl

Zakiya Dalila Harris
Hardcover/June 1, 2021
Bloomsbury Publishing

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career.

Dark, funny and furiously entertaining, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

Schrodinger's Dog by Martin Dumont

Schrödinger’s Dog: A Novel

Martin Dumont
Paperback/March 10, 2020
Other Press

Yanis’s world is Pierre, the son he raised as a single parent. For nearly twenty years, Yanis spent his nights as a cabdriver with Pierre always at his side, so as not to miss a moment in each other’s company. Yanis and Pierre also share a love of diving—in pursuit of that magical moment when they lose themselves in the deep sea. When enveloped by the natural world, father and son relish an escape from life’s pressures.

But for some time, Pierre has been tired. Too tired. Despite how attentively Yanis watched him, Yanis missed the early signs of illness. Faced with the harsh reality of his son’s numbered days, Yanis struggles to invent a life his son won’t have the time to live.

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle

Hieroglyphics

Jill McCorkle
Paperback/May 4, 2021
Algonquin

After many years in Boston, Lil and Frank have retired to North Carolina. The two of them married young, having bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically—lost a parent when they were children. Now, Lil has become deter¬mined to leave a history for their own kids. She sifts through letters and notes and diary entries, uncovering old stories—and perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know.

Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is now raising her son. For Shelley, Frank’s repeated visits begin to trigger memories of her own family, memories that she’d hoped to keep buried. Because, after all, not all parents are ones you wish to remember.

Empathetic and profound, this novel from master storyteller Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and to be a child trying to know your parents—a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history and memory.

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

Morningside Heights

Joshua Henkin
Hardcover/June 15, 2021
Pantheon Books

When Ohio-born Pru Steiner arrives in New York in 1976, she follows in a long tradition of young people determined to take the city by storm. But when she falls in love with and marries Spence Robin, her hotshot young Shakespeare professor, her life takes a turn she couldn’t have anticipated.

Thirty years later, something is wrong with Spence. The Great Man can’t concentrate; he falls asleep reading The New York Review of Books. With their daughter, Sarah, away at medical school, Pru must struggle on her own to care for him. One day, feeling especially isolated, Pru meets a man, and the possibility of new romance blooms. Meanwhile, Spence’s estranged son from his first marriage has come back into their lives. Arlo, a wealthy entrepreneur who invests in biotech, may be his father’s last, best hope.

Morningside Heights is a sweeping and compassionate novel about a marriage surviving hardship. It’s about the love between women and men, and children and parents; about the things we give up in the face of adversity; and about how to survive when life turns out differently from what we thought we signed up for.

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

Robert Kolker
Paperback/March 2, 2021
Anchor Books

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins–aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony–and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?

What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.

With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family’s unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.