New Fiction Roundup, February 2023

Family dramas, mythological retellings and more await you in February!

2/7: Cold People by Tom Rob Smith
Earth has fallen to an outside force, and the remnants of humanity will only be allowed on Antarctica. Those who make it there confront an urgent challenge: to what extremes are they willing to go to evolve quickly enough to ensure humankind’s survival? (science fiction) A Peak Pick!

2/7: Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein
Two families in 1940s Trinidad, one wealthy and one poor, are inextricably linked by the disappearance of a wealthy landowner. (historical fiction)

2/7: Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez, translated by Megan McDowell
A woman’s mysterious death puts her husband and son on a collision course with her demonic family, who are determined to pull the son back into the family fold. (horror)

2/7: A Spell of Good Things by Ayòbámi Adébáyò
Teenage Eniola and doctor Wuraola find themselves caught in the snare of wealth, power, corruption and violence in this story set in contemporary Nigeria. (general fiction)

2/7: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes
This retelling of a classical myth presents Medusa’s story, from growing up as the youngest (and only mortal) of the Gorgon sisters, to her punishment for the crime of another and transformation into a snake-haired monster, to her pursuit by Perseus. (fantasy) A Peak Pick!

2/7: VenCo by Cherie Dimaline
Lucky St. James finds a tarnished silver spoon in the wall of her Toronto apartment, a discovery that sets Lucky and her grandmother on a road trip to New Orleans to connect with a network of witches and forestall a powerful adversary. (fantasy)

2/7: Victory City by Salman Rushdie
In 14th century India, a goddess speaks through nine-year-old Pampa Kampana and breathes into existence the city of Bisnaga, a place where women have equal agency. Over the next 250 years, Pampa Kampana strives to maintain the city in the face of human pride and greed. (general fiction) A Peak Pick!

2/7: When Trying to Return Home by Jennifer Maritza McCauley
This short story collection full of Black American and Afro-Puerto Rican characters is a meditation on belonging and the meaning of home. (general fiction)

2/14: The Sun Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane
In September 1883, six-year-old Denny Wallace goes missing from a small town in the Australian outback during a dust storm. As community members search for him, the large cast of characters and their daily lives, conflicts, and dreams come into vivid relief. (historical fiction)

2/14: The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith
Novelist and essayist Smith turns to playwriting with this adaptation of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath, following Jamaican-born British woman Alvita as she tells her life story to a band of strangers in a small pub. (play)

2/21: Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth
A reimagining of Antigone in a dystopian future where widespread radiation has led to reproductive oppression. Antigone, living in the last habitable city on Earth under the tyrannical rule of her uncle, is sentenced to death and seeks her revenge. (science fiction)

2/21: The Destroyer of Worlds by Matt Ruff
This sequel to Lovecraft Country finds Atticus Turner and his father facing an old nemesis in North Carolina; Atticus’ uncle George contemplating a deal with the ghost of Hiram Winthrop; Hippolyta and Letitia finding the far end of the universe on a trip to Nevada; and much more. (fantasy)

2/21: I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai
Bodie Kane, professor and podcaster, has long put behind her her four years at a New Hampshire boarding school and the murder of her roommate their senior year. When she returns as a visiting instructor, she’s drawn back into the intrigue of the past. (general fiction) A Peak Pick!

2/21: The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
A young author attends an exclusive writer’s retreat, only for it to descend into nightmare. Can she make it out alive? (thriller)

2/28: Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown
Four generations of Black women grapple with a familial curse that sees any person they fall in love with die. When 17-year-old Nickie brings a boy home for the first time, the women are galvanized, set on a course to a New Orleans book shop where they may discover the answers they seek. (general fiction) A Peak Pick!

2/28: Homestead by Melinda Moustakis
In 1956 Alaska, two near-strangers are drawn together by a shared dream of homesteading. As they marry and work the rugged land, they must face all they don’t know about one another and the reality of homesteading. (historical fiction)

~ posted by Andrea G.

Black History in Fiction

Each February, many readers come to the library to check out the latest titles on Black history. Don’t read history books? No worries! Whether you enjoy historical or literary fiction, thrillers or fantasy, romance or mysteries, here are some recent books that immerse us in the lived experiences of Black Americans throughout our history.

  • By Her Own Design: A Novel of Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer to the Social Register, by Piper Huguley.
    This captivating novel relates the true story of a forgotten fashion designer who overcame the indignities of the Jim Crow South to dress high society. Then, at the height of her career, just days before the posh nuptuals of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier, a flood in Lowe’s shop ruins several dresses, including the bride’s.
  • A Woman of Endurance, by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa.
    Even surviving the endless brutalities confronting enslaved forced laborers of Puerto Rico’s El Paraiso sugar cane plantation was more than many could hope. For Pola, surviving was just the beginning. A harrowing story of chattel slavery in the Caribbean.
  • Empty Vows, by Mary Monroe.
    In this sequel to Monroe’s Mrs. Wiggins, generous and kind hearted widow Jessie Tucker decides it is high time she had someone to look after her, setting her sights on newly widowed Hubert Wiggins, an upstanding leader in Lexington, Alabama with secrets of his own. Intrigue and romance in midcentury South.
  • Anywhere You Run, by Wanda M. Morris.
    As simmering racial violence burts into flame in the summer of 1964, sisters Violet and Marigold Richards have no choice but to flee their Jackson, Mississippi home. This  meticulously researched historical thriller brings the everyday terrors of the “Freedom Summer” for those who were not yet truly free.
  • Black Cloud Rising, by David Wright Faladé.
    The Black freedmen of the African Brigade risked worse than death fighting for the Union and to free the enslaved during the American Civil War. Among their ranks, Richard Etheridge moves toward an uncertain future, while enduring present indignities that feel an awful lot like the supposed past.
  • The Monsters We Defy, by Leslye Penelope.
    For residents of Washington D.C.’s Black community in the 1920’s, life – to quote Langson Hughes – “ain’t been no crystal stair.” Small wonder, then, that they should turn to magic to right the more than occassional wrong. Vivid historical fantasy, deeply rooted in fact.
  • One Shot Harry, by Gary Phillips.
    Hardboiled LA Photojournalist Harry Ingram suspects an auto accident involving an old Korean War buddy is anything but accidental, following a trail of corruption and white supremacist backlash to the Civil Rights movement, and the upcoming visit of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Find even more in our list of recent Black History in Fiction, in the Library catalog.

   ~ Posted by David W.

 

New Nonfiction Roundup – February 2023

In current events, Malcolm Harris presents a true, unvarnished history of California, capitalism, and the world in Palo Alto while Barbara Rae-Venter profiles an amateur DNA sleuth who unmasked the Golden State Killer and changed crime fighting forever in I Know Who You Are. Will Sommer chronicles the rise of QAnon and the conspiracy that unhinged America in Trust the Plan. Bruce Schneier examines how the powerful bend society’s rules – and how to bend them back – in The Hacker’s Mind while Kenji Yoshio and David Glasgow teach readers how to talk about identity, diversity and justice in Say the Right Thing.

In wellness and self improvement, Katherine May (Wintering) invites readers to reawaken wonder in an anxious age in Enchantment while Tara Schuster returns with simple practices to heal your soul – from someone who has learned the hard way – in Glow in the F*cking Dark. The latest from Mark Hyman, Young Forever, reveals the secrets to living your longest, healthiest life while MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan gives people the confidence to successfully debate, persuade and speak in public in Win Every Argument. Lisa Damour provides parents and guardians with the tools for raising connected, capable and compassionate adolescents in The Emotional Lives of Teenagers. And Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible,” helps entrepreneurs learn to lead, build a team and catapult their business to success in Overcoming Impossible.

History buffs have much to read this month. In Dinner With the President, Alex Prud’homme chronicles a history of breaking bread at the White House while Simon Garfield celebrates the extraordinary history of the encyclopedia in All the Knowledge in the World. Nina Siegal looks at World War II in the Netherlands, as written by the people who lived through it, in The Diary Keepers. Adam Brookes debuts with the story of the race to save the treasures of China’s Forbidden City leading up to World War II in Fragile Cargo while Lynne Olson profiles the daredevil archaeologist who saved Egypt’s ancient temples from destruction in Empress of the World. Janina Ramirez offers a reappraisal of the Middle Ages, through the women written out of it, in Femina; Nick Tabor considers the impact of the Clotilda, America’s last slave ship and the community it created, in Africatown; and Sathnam Sanghera looks at how imperialism has shaped modern Britain in Empireland. And Joel Warner reports on a notorious scandal, a mythical manuscript, and the biggest scandal in literary history in The Curse of the Marquis de Sade.

In science, Miriam Darlington journeys into the wild and secret world of owls in The Wise Hours while Erica Berry blends science and history to understand myths about wolves and stories we tell about fear in Wolfish. Activist Greta Thunberg says we still have time to change the world, and presents facts and solutions, in The Climate Book while Jake Bittle warns about climate change’s role in the next American migration in The Great Displacement. Kate Zernike introduces readers to the sixteen female scientists who forced M.I.T. to publicly admit that they discriminated against female faculty in The Exceptions. And Johan Eklöf details the impact of light pollution and its effect on the ancient rhythms that sustain life in The Darkness Manifesto.

Four moving memoirs are being released this month. Will Schwalbe (The End of Your Life Book Club) discusses an improbable and life-changing college friendship over 40 years in We Should Not Be Friends; Camonghne Felix recovers from heartbreak in a love story of epic miscalculation in Dyscalculia; Anne Glenconner (Lady in Waiting) returns with more lessons from an unexpected life in Whatever Next?; and Patrick Bringley recalls the decade he spent as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in All the Beauty in the World.

Finally, crafty folks have several new releases to improve, or learn, a new skill. Andrea Brauneis shows how to knit using steeking to create scarves, shawls and stoles in Knitting Wraps in the Round while Melanie Porter presents 30 contemporary knitting projects for your living space in Knitted Home. In Watercolour Lessons, Emma Lefebvre provides beginners with 20 tutorials on how to paint and unwind; in Be A Polymer Clay Pro, Lauren Tomlinson gives clay artists 15 projects and more than 20 skill-building techniques; and in
Quilt-As-You-Go for Scrap Lovers, Judy Gauthier gives fabric artists 12 fun projects, with color and piercing strategies, for sensational quilts.

~posted by Frank

Theater, Music and Film: February 2023 Events at The Seattle Public Library

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We’ve got some amazing author programs and community events planned for February, from Lambda Award-winning novelist Annalee Newitz to Bonnie Garmus, author of the bestselling novel “Lessons in Chemistry”. The Fifth Avenue Theatre is also back with a Sondheim show talk and the South Park Branch is hosting a movie screening with former Washington State poet Claudia Castro Luna.

Many events require registration, but all Library events are free and open to the public. Find information and registration through the event links below or at spl.org/Calendar.

EVENTS SCHEDULE

Annalee Newitz With Misha Stone — “The Terraformers”: From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m, Friday, Feb. 3, at Third Place Books, Ravenna. Science journalist, podcaster and Lambda Award-winning novelist Annalee Newitz will discuss their highly anticipated sci-fi epic, “The Terraformers,” a science fiction epic for our times — and a love letter to our future. Newitz will be in conversation with Misha Stone, Reader Services librarian and Vice-Chair of the Clarion West Writers Workshop board.

Ladies Musical Club Concert: From noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Central Library. The Ladies Musical Club concert this month features solo piano works and songs for soprano, including performances by Tiina Ritalahti (soprano), Joan Lundquist (piano) and Joyce Gibb (piano).

Virtual It’s About Time Writers’ Reading Series: From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9. Online. Join us for this virtual event hosted by the Ballard Branch, featuring Amanda Hartzell, Sylvia Pollack, and Jared Leising. New and experienced writers are always welcome to read for a three-minute open mic.

Show Talks With the 5th Avenue Theatre – The Genius of Sondheim: From 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11. Central Library, Level 1 – Microsoft Auditorium. In this special musical tribute to one of “the most revered and influential composer-lyricists” in Broadway history, artistic director Emeritus of the Fifth Avenue Theatre David Armstrong will share fascinating insights into Sondheim’s life, times, and career. This event will also include musical performances by guest artists.

Virtual Writers Read: From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 12. Online. Presented in partnership with the African-American Writers’ Alliance, this monthly reading series features an open mic and selected author readings from local writers who read from their diverse repertoires of poetry, short stories, novels and essays.

Write with Hugo House: Seattle Writes: From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 14 at the Fremont Branch and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Douglass-Truth Branch. Attend this free multi-genre drop-in writing circle facilitated by an established local writer from Hugo House!

“Pelo Malo” with Claudia Castro Luna and Milvia Berenice Pacheco Salvatierra: From 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17 at the South Park Branch. Join us for a Spanish-language screening and discussion of the filmPelo Malo,” facilitated by guest curator and former Washington State poet Claudia Castro Luna and Milvia Berenice Pacheco Salvatierra of Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle. This event is supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and the Gary and Connie Kunis Foundation. Ven a ver la proyección y discusión de la película en español “Pelo Malo”, facilitada por la curadora invitada Claudia Castro Luna y Milvia Berenice Pacheco Salvatierra del Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle.

Bonnie Garmus presents “Lessons in Chemistry”: From 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23. Central Library, Level 1 Microsoft Auditorium. Bonnie Garmus will discuss her national bestselling debut novel “Lessons in Chemistry,” which tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, “a formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” (Parade Magazine) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show. The event will include a public signing and audience Q&A.

Lily Yu discusses “On Fragile Waves”: From 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, February 25 at the Central Library. Join us for a reading and conversation with E. Lily Yu, winner of the 2022 Washington State Book Award for Fiction. “Devastating and perfect” is how the New York Times Book Review described “On Fragile Waves,”the haunting story of a family of dreamers and tale-tellers looking for home in an unwelcoming world. Yu will be in conversation with Jenna Zarzycki, a librarian with the King County Library System and a Washington State Book Award judge.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Mask use is strongly encouraged and additional safety precautions are in place: Library staff are fully vaccinated, the Library offers free masks and hand sanitizer to patrons at sanitation stations, and all Library locations have high-quality ventilation and air filtration.

The Library offers a range of other free events and workshops in February, including services such as Tax Help (back this year at eight locations) and phone and service enrollment; and business workshops and consults. See all events at www.spl.org/Calendar.

Introducing Higo! New Central Exhibition

Higo 10 Cents Store, owned by the Murakami family and a social hub in Seattle’s Japantown, has a long and fascinating community and family history. Meet Me at Higo welcomes younger generations to connect with and explore what it means to be Japanese American. Today, Higo 10 Cents Store (or Higo Variety Store) is KOBO at Higo and is still located at 604 South Jackson in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.

The growing Murakami family visits Seattle’s Volunteer Park, 1923. Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum
The growing Murakami family visits Seattle’s Volunteer Park, 1923. Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum

From February 1st through March 26th, the Central Library Gallery is hosting Meet Me at Higo, a traveling exhibition by the Wing Luke Museum. Visitors will immerse themselves in archival photographs, journals and letters from the Murakami family—the original proprietors—as well as goods such as ceramics, toys, and textiles sold there through the 20th century until it closed its doors in the early 2000s when Masa, the last surviving member of the Murakami family, retired.

Matsuyo Murakami stands in the doorway of the store on South Weller Street, circa 1912. Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum
Matsuyo Murakami stands in the doorway of the store on South Weller Street, circa 1912. Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum

Founded before 1910 (dates are variously given as 1907 and 1909 depending on the source), Higo 10 Cents Store, which was later renamed Higo Variety Store, became a center for Japanese Americans who came to the Pacific Northwest to as migrant works in the railroad, agriculture, and fishing industries. The Japanese population grew into a neighborhood called Nihonmachi (Japantown or J-Town), a hub of culture and community located in the International District-Chinatown, less than a mile from the Central Library. At Nihonmachi’s heart was Higo, a central point of connection for the community, providing imported and local goods that local residents relied on to make their homes feel familiar and comfortable as well as a place for people to meet and connect.

On February 19, 1942, Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which created an “exclusion zone” based on xenophobic and racist hostility towards Japanese Americans in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The order authorized brutality towards and surveillance and arrests of community members, subsequently escalated to forced relocation of Japanese Americans within the exclusion zone by April of 1942. An estimated 126,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes and incarcerated in concentration camps. The Murakami family was interned at Minidoka concentration camp.

The Higo 10 Cents Store sells a wide variety of goods, circa 1907. Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum
The Higo 10 Cents Store sells a wide variety of goods, circa 1907. Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum

Once the Murakami Family was able to return to Seattle and their store, they found it untouched, in large part thanks to concerned neighbors, and were eventually able to reopen. As more people were released from incarceration, Higo became a meeting place for a shattered community to come find news of lost or missing family members, refurnish or reclaim lost items, and reconnect with community.

Sanzo Murakami establishes the Higo 10 Cents Store in 1907. Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum
Sanzo Murakami establishes the Higo 10 Cents Store in 1907. Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum

Even though Higo Variety Store is closed, you can still visit it today in a new incarnation in the same location. Now called Kobo at Higo, it boasts a gallery space which displays work from artists of Japanese heritage and sells imported and local goods. The owners have lovingly preserved the interior as it was, and curates historical unsold items that were once part of Higo’s inventory. They work closely with the Wing Luke Museum and historians to honor the legacy of Higo as a beloved meeting place for Japanese Americans through the tumultuous 20th Century.

We invite you to come and meet Higo, and discover an intimate slice of Seattle’s 20th century Japanese American history through the eyes a remarkable family by visiting us this February and March in the gallery located on 8th floor of the Central Library.

Further Reading:

     ~ Posted by Billie B.