Spring Booknotes from our Staff – Fiction

By Blood
by Ellen Ullman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

In 1970s San Francisco, a neurotic middle-aged professor rents a small office as he awaits investigation for improper behavior. Discovering he can hear conversations from the psychiatrist’s office next door, he becomes obsessed with one particular patient, a young lesbian, adopted, and anguished about finding her real mother. He decides to become involved researching her possible history, falsifying papers, perpetuating the belief that she was born a Jew and relinquished at the end of the war by a woman now living in Israel. Intense and compelling, this psychological drama, haunted by stories of the Holocaust, is as atmospheric as the foggy, eccentric city in which it is set. –Erica


Drifting House
by Krys Lee (Viking)

Postwar era Koreans and Korean Americans, living in the old country and the new, reinvent themselves in surprising ways in the face of loss, catastrophe, love, and changing families in Krys Lee’s debut short story collection, Drifting House. Alternately spooky, touching, realistic, and fantastical, Lee’s work invites readers to re-examine preconceptions of home, affection, return, and belonging, reflecting on the reach of mothers and motherland as family members move on, die, and are reborn. –Karen


The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories
by Ivan Vladislavic
illus. by Sunandini Banerjee (Seagull Books)

From its base in Calcutta, India, Seagull Books has been winning increased notice for its beautiful books and commitment to literary excellence. The publication of South African writer Ivan Vladislavic’s new book stands out for reasons above and beyond; these linked pieces ruminate on stories and books, primarily on pieces not written–abandoned, set aside, let go. How the loss of these unwritten worlds is to be comprehended is made manifest in exquisite form here, with both Vladislavic’s elegiac writing and brilliant collages by designer Sunandini Banerjee. A book for those who love books–real, physical books–and where they take us. –Rick


The Mirage
by Matt Ruff (HarperCollins)

Imagine that the United States is not a superpower but an antagonistic rogue state. Seattle author Matt Ruff takes you on an intense and brilliantly plotted journey into this new reality, a fun-house mirror world in which the United Arab States wield the political and military might, and the US is an occupied terror state responsible for the destruction of the Tigris and Euphrates World Trade Towers on 11/9/2001. A war on terror rages, and Christianity, not Islam is the religion shrouded in suspicion. Ruff has forged a mind-bending portrait of a world gripped by fear where nothing is as it seems. –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.


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