Previously unknown in the US, Carlos Franz is Chile’s most celebrated novelist. The Absent Sea is the story of Laura Larcos, a brilliant and idealistic judge posted to the remote desert city of Pampa Hundida just before the military coup that toppled the Allende regime. Within weeks the town is occupied by the military, which established concentration camps for dissidents, forcing Laura to eventually flee to Germany. After a twenty-year absence, Laura returns, and is forced to confront the real-life consequences of justice and complicity, remembrance and reconciliation, and the overriding question of what the individual is capable of when faced with a criminally brutalizing society. This book will leave you disturbed and elevated long after your first reading. –Peter
Julie Otsuka’s much awaited second novel is a spare, poetic work told from the points of view of a wave of female immigrants. The author takes a risk, perhaps inspired by her real life subjects, that more than pays off. We meet these women in their homes before they cross the ocean as Japanese picture brides, get to know them as individuals and as a group, and ride their wave of experiences until they are evacuated and incarcerated as World War II era, West Coast, Japanese Americans. Lifted into the realm of art by powerful, incantatory prose, this novel is both inspired and unforgettable. –Karen
Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski has been called many things over the years: a savior, an opportunist, a monster. Every act and speech that Rumkowski made as the chairman of the Lódz Ghetto, the second largest Jewish ghetto of the Holocaust, has been heatedly debated. In his stirring new novel, Steve Sem-Sandberg has, through exhaustive research, shed further light on the Lódz Ghetto and the complicated sixty-three-year-old businessman and orphanage director who became the leader of a people fated to die at the hands of the Nazis. Already a sensation overseas, The Emperor of Lies is a once in a generation literary event. –Casey S.
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.