A who’s who of literary powerhouses published last year, headlined by the likes of Dave Eggers, Junot Diaz, and JK Rowling. But in a lot of ways those literary giants were overshadowed by a book series first published a year earlier: 2012 was the year of Grey, as in 50 Shades.
Only two nonfiction books make the cut and this is one of them. Searching for Zion gets a boost from the aforementioned Eggers, who said, “I doubt there will be a more important work of nonfiction this year.” In Searching for Zion Raboteau travels African diasporic countries seeking out different ideas of home and what they mean to the people who harbor them. It promises to be authentic, heartfelt and revealing, characteristics to which all books must aspire.
Playwright, humorist, memoirist, NPR commentator ... David Sedaris wears a lot of hats. His run of best-selling books are always hotly anticipated. There’s nothing to suggest this forthcoming collection from a writer at the top of his game should change that.
Horror’s vanguard showed off his versatility with “11/22/63,” a meticulously researched transport back to the lead-up and death of John F. Kennedy. You’ll have to wait until September for this one, but that’s nothing — it’s been 25 years since The Shining. King wouldn’t go back to this story without a fresh voice and perspective to infuse it with new life.
McCann approaches novels by excavating the earth’s ground floor, taking readers deeper inside communities whether they’re in their own backyard or across the world. He spends three years living, researching, breathing his books and the results are always rich and transformative. Binding the real-life narratives of Frederick Douglass, Alcock and Brown, and Senator George Mitchell, TransAtlantic is enormously ambitious (not unlike the first transatlantic flights). Don’t miss this one.
There’s likely no more inventive voice in all of contemporary fiction than Russell’s. In Swamplandia, she gave a coming-of-age story new life in a dying theme park headlined by alligator wrestlers. It dealt with the twin themes of love and loss, in wildly imaginative fashion that could not have felt more authentic. Before that, Russell burst onto the scene with another short-story collection, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. This column wasn’t intended to push books published in years past, but go get Russell’s past works to hold you over until Vampires in the Lemon Grove hits your local shelves.
It’s tough to escape childhood without encountering Sendak. If you haven’t (and don’t feel bad because I missed it, too), go back and pick up Where the Wild Things Are — it’s no less beautiful in adulthood. This final offering by Sendak, who died May 8, 2012, is a tribute to his brother, Jack. This one will be special.