Writing of her Bangladeshi homeland, Tahmima Anam follows her exquisite, award-winning 2007 debut A Golden Age with a no less powerful tale of a nation on the brink of civil war and violent reinvention of itself, of a harrowing time of supposed peace. A young woman and her brother find different means of healing—she trains to become a doctor; he, after having fought in the war, withdraws into fundamentalist religious practice. Benign enough, until his young son is put in peril. One family’s small story illuminates larger questions of faith, belief, practice, and empathy in a novel both telling and beautiful. –Rick
The unsolved murder of an aging surgeon’s best friend is just the first layer of many stories explored within Alice LaPlante’s debut novel. As dementia erodes this once brilliant and always difficult woman’s personality, her struggle to hold on to her sanity (and her daughter’s efforts to connect with an increasingly elusive, unraveling parent) reveal painful truths about familial love, friendship, and sacrifice in the context of one of life’s most difficult challenges. How much of the person remains as her illness progresses and the essence of who she is becomes more elusive? LaPlante is hopeful, but realistic in the end. –Karen
For translators, few books pose as formidable and seductive a challenge as Rimbaud’s unpaginated, fevered masterpiece, Illuminations. Here, seasoned translator and Pulitzer prize-winning poet John Ashbery answers that call and succeeds splendidly. Presenting each English translation alongside its French original, this dazzling edition breathes new life into the nineteenth century voyant’s kaleidoscopic world while still preserving its intense vision and incomparable immediacy. The results are incandescent. Proof-positive that more than a century after he put down his pen and abandoned writing forever, our little Arthur is still miles ahead of everyone else. –Matthew
Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.