West Bloomfield Township Public Library
⮜ More Featured Titles

National Book Award Finalists (2020)

The National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2020 National Book Awards in five categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people's literature.

Leave the world behind : a novel by Rumaan Alam

"A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong"--

A children's bible : a novel by Lydia Millet

"An indelible and haunting new novel that explores the loss of childhood, intergenerational conflict, and humanity's complacency in the face of its own demise. Lydia Millet's multilayered new novel - her first since the National Book Award Longlist SweetLamb of Heaven -- follows a group of children and their families on summer vacation at a lakeside mansion. The teenage narrator Eve and the other children are contemptuous of their parents, who spend the days and nights in drunken stupor. This tension heightens when a great storm arrives and throws the house and its residents into chaos. Named for a picture Bible given to Eve's little brother Jack, A Children's Bible is loosely structured around events and characters that often appear in collections of Bible stories intended for young readers. These narrative touchstones are imbedded in a backdrop of environmental and psychological distress as the children reject the parents for their emotional and moral failures-in part as normal teenagers must, and in part for their generation's passivity and denial in the face of cataclysmic change. In A Children's Bible, Millet offers brilliant commentary on the environment and human weakness and a vision of what awaits us on the other side of Revelations"--

The secret lives of church ladies by Deesha Philyaw

"The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church's double standards and their own needs and passions"--

Shuggie Bain : a novel by Douglas Stuart

"Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh "Shuggie" Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher's war on heavy industry has put husbands and sons out of work, and the city's notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie's mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie's guiding light but a burden for his artistic brother and practical sister. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a "whoremaster" of a husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good-her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion's share of each week's benefits-all the family has to live on-on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes's older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to look after her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. He is meanwhile doing all he can to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that Shuggie is "no right," and now Agnes's addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her-even and especially her beloved Shuggie. A heartbreaking novel of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction"--

Interior Chinatown : a novel by Charles Yu

"From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play."--

The undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

"Traveling across the country, journalist Karla Cornejo Villavicencio risked arrest at every turn to report the extraordinary stories of her fellow undocumented Americans. Her subjects have every reason to be wary around reporters, but Cornejo Villavicencio has unmatched access to their stories. Her work culminates in a stunning, essential read for our times. Born in Ecuador and brought to the United States when she was five years old, Cornejo Villavicencio has lived the American Dream. Raised on her father's deliveryman income, she later became one of the first undocumented students admitted into Harvard. She is now a doctoral candidate at Yale University and has written for The New York Times. She weaves her own story among those of the eleven million undocumented who have been thrust into the national conversation today as never before. Looking well beyond the flashpoints of the border or the activism of the DREAMERS, Cornejo Villavicencio explores the lives of the undocumented as rarely seen in our daily headlines. In New York, we meet the undocumented workers who were recruited in the federally funded Ground Zero cleanup after 9/11. In Miami we enter the hidden botanicas, which offer witchcraft and homeopathy to those whose status blocks them from any other healthcare options. In Flint, Michigan, we witness how many live in fear as the government issues raids at grocery stores and demands identification before offering life-saving clean water. In her book, Undocumented America, Cornejo Villavicenciopowerfully reveals the hidden corners of our nation of immigrants. She brings to light remarkable stories of hope and resilience, and through them we come to understand what it truly means to be American"--

The dead are arising : the life of Malcolm X by Les Payne

"An epic biography of Malcolm X finally emerges, drawing on hundreds of hours of the author's interviews, rewriting much of the known narrative. Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X-all living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, classmates, street friends, cellmates, Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders around the world.His goal was ambitious: to transform what would become over a hundred hours of interviews into an unprecedented portrait of Malcolm X, one that would separate fact from fiction. The result is this historic biography that conjures a never-before-seen world of its protagonist, a work whose title is inspired by a phrase Malcolm X used when he saw his Hartford followers stir with purpose, as if the dead were truly arising, to overcome the obstacles of racism. Setting Malcolm's life not only within the Nationof Islam but against the larger backdrop of American history, the book traces the life of one of the twentieth century's most politically relevant figures "from street criminal to devoted moralist and revolutionary." In tracing Malcolm X's life from hisNebraska birth in 1925 to his Harlem assassination in 1965, Payne provides searing vignettes culled from Malcolm's Depression-era youth, describing the influence of his Garveyite parents: his father, Earl, a circuit-riding preacher who was run over by a street car in Lansing, Michigan, in 1929, and his mother, Louise, who continued to instill black pride in her children after Earl's death. Filling each chapter with resonant drama, Payne follows Malcolm's exploits as a petty criminal in Boston and Harlem in the 1930s and early 1940s to his religious awakening and conversion to the Nation of Islam in a Massachusetts penitentiary. With a biographer's unwavering determination, Payne corrects the historical record and delivers extraordinary revelations-from the unmasking of the mysterious NOI founder "Fard Muhammad," who preceded Elijah Muhammad; to a hair-rising scene, conveyed in cinematic detail, of Malcolm and Minister Jeremiah X Shabazz's 1961 clandestine meeting with the KKK; to a minute-by-minute account of Malcolm X's murder at the Audubon Ballroom. Introduced by Payne's daughter and primary researcher, Tamara Payne, who, following her father's death, heroically completed the biography, The Dead Are Arising is a penetrating and riveting work that affirms the centrality of Malcolm X to the African American freedom struggle"--

Unworthy republic : the dispossession of Native Americans and the road to Indian territory by Claudio Saunt

"A masterful and unsettling history of the forced migration of 80,000 Native Americans across the Mississippi River in the 1830s. On May 28, 1830, Congress authorized the expulsion of indigenous peoples from the East to territories west of the MississippiRiver. Over the next decade, Native Americans saw their homelands and possessions stolen through fraud, intimidation, and murder. Thousands lost their lives. In this powerful, gripping book, Claudio Saunt upends the common view that "Indian Removal" wasan inevitable chapter in US expansion across the continent. Instead, Saunt argues that it was a contested political act-resisted by both indigenous peoples and US citizens-that passed in Congress by a razor-thin margin. In telling the full story of this systematic, state-sponsored theft, Saunt reveals how expulsion became national policy, abetted by southern slave owners and financed by Wall Street. Moving beyond the familiar story of the Trail of Tears, Unworthy Republic offers a fast-paced yet deeply researched account of unbridled greed, government indifference, and administrative incompetence. The consequences of this vast transfer of land and wealth still resonate today"--

My autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland

"While working as an intern in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center, Jenn Shapland encounters the love letters of Carson McCullers and a woman named Annemarie-letters that are tender, intimate, and unabashed in their feelings. Shapland recognizes herself in the letters' language-but does not see McCullers as history has portrayed her. And so, Shapland is compelled to undertake a recovery of the full narrative and language of McCullers's life: she wades through the therapy transcripts; she stays at McCullers's childhood home, where she lounges in her bathtub and eats delivery pizza; she relives McCullers's days at her beloved Yaddo. As Shapland reckons with the expanding and collapsing distance between her and McCullers, she sees the way McCullers's story has become a way to articulate something about herself. The results reveal something entirely new not only about this one remarkable, walleyed life, but about the way we tell queer love stories. In genre-defying vignettes, Jenn Shapland interweaves herown story with Carson McCullers's to create a vital new portrait of one of America's most beloved writers, and shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are"--

How to make a slave and other essays by Jerald Walker

"Personal essays exploring identity, family, and community through the prism of race and black culture. Confronts the medical profession's racial biases, shopping while black at Whole Foods, the legacy of Michael Jackson, raising black boys, haircuts that scare white people, racial profiling, and growing up in Southside Chicago"--

A treatise on stars by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

"Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's A Treatise on Stars extends the intensely phenomenological poetics of 'The Star Field' in Empathy, which appeared over thirty years ago. The book is structured as a continuous enfolding of poems, each made up of numbered serial parts, their presiding poetic consciousness moving from the desert arroyo of New Mexico to the white-tailed deer of Maine and between conversations with daughter, husband, friends, pets (corn snake and poodle), and a woman, or star-visitor, beneath a tree who calls 'any spirit in matter ... star-walking.' These are poems of deep listening and patient waiting, open to the channeling of daily experience, to gestalt and angel, dolphins and extraterrestrials. Here, family is a type of constellation and 'thoughtis a form of organized light.' All our senses are activated by Berssenbrugge's light absorbing lines, lines that map a geography of interconnected intelligence-interdimensional intelligence-that exists in all sentient objects and sustains us. This is notnew age poetry but poetry for a new age, rigorous of thought and grounded in the physical world where 'days fill with splendor, and earth offers its pristine beauty to an expanding present.'"--

Fantasia for the man in blue by Tommye Blount

"An examination of a brutal America through the voices of its most vulnerable sons. In his debut collection, Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Tommye Blount orchestrates a chorus of distinct, unforgettable voices that speak to the experience of the black, queer body as a site of desire and violence. A black man's late-night encounter with a police officer - the titular "man in blue" - becomes an extended meditation on a dangerous, erotic fantasy. The late Luther Vandross, resurrected here in a suite of poems,addresses the contradiction between his public persona and a life spent largely in the closet: "It's a calling, this hunger / to sing for a love I'm too ashamed to want for myself." In "Aaron McKinney Cleans His Magnum," the convicted killer imagines thebarrel of the gun he used to bludgeon Matthew Shepherd as an "infant's small mouth" as well as the "sad calculator" that was "built to subtract from and divide a town." In these and other poems, Blount viscerally captures the experience of the "other" and locates us squarely within these personae"--

DMZ colony by Don Mee Choi

"A new book by Don Mee Choi that includes poems, prose, and images"--

Borderland apocrypha by Anthony Cody

"Borderland Apocrypha is centered around the collective histories of Mexican lynchings following the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, and the subsequent erasures, traumas, and state-sanctioned violences committed towards communities ofcolor in the present day. Cody's debut collection responds to the destabilized, hostile landscapes and silenced histories via an experimental poetic that invents and shapeshifts in both form and space across the margin, the page, and the book's axis in aresistance, a reclamation and a re-occupation of what has been omitted. Part autohistoria, part docupoetic, part visual monument, part myth-making, Borderland Apocrypha exhumes the past in order to work toward survival, reckoning, and future- building"--

Postcolonial love poem by Natalie Diaz

Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages―bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers―be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality.

High as the waters rise : a novel by Anja Kampmann

One night aboard an oil drilling platform in the Atlantic, Waclaw returns to his cabin to find that his bunkmate and companion, Mátyás, has gone missing. A search of the rig confirms his fear that Mátyás has fallen into the sea

The family clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri

"A novel about a family in crisis, as a proud patriarch encounters the harsh realities he has inflicted on his children"--

Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yū

"A surreal, devastating story of a homeless ghost who haunts one of Tokyo's busiest train stations. Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Japanese Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and hasbeen shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history. But his life story is also marked by bad luck, and now, in death, he is unable to rest, doomed to haunt the park near Ueno Station in Tokyo. Kazu's life in the city began and ended in that park; he arrived there to work as a laborer in the preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and ended his days living in the vast homeless village in the park, traumatized by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and shattered by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.Through Kazu's eyes, we see daily life in Tokyo buzz around him and learn the intimate details of his personal story, how loss and society's inequalities and constrictions spiraled towards this ghostly fate, with moments of beauty and grace just out of reach. A powerful masterwork from one of Japan's most brilliant outsider writers, Tokyo Ueno Station is a book for our times and a look into a marginalized existence in a shiny global megapolis"--

The Bitch by Pilar Quintana

Colombia’s Pacific coast, where everyday life entails warding off the brutal forces of nature. In this constant struggle, nothing is taken for granted. Damaris lives with her fisherman husband in a shack on a bluff overlooking the sea. Childless and at that age “when women dry up,” as her uncle puts it, she is eager to adopt an orphaned puppy. But this act may bring more than just affection into her home. The Bitch is written in a prose as terse as the villagers, with storms―both meteorological and emotional―lurking around each corner. Beauty and dread live side by side in this poignant exploration of the many meanings of motherhood and love.

Minor detail by author Shibli Adania

"Minor Detail begins during the summer of 1949, one year after the war that the Palestinians mourn as the Nakba-the catastrophe that led to the displacement and exile of some 700,000 people-and the Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence. Israeli soldiers murder an encampment of Bedouin in the Negev desert, and among their victims they capture a Palestinian teenager and they rape her, kill her, and bury her in the sand. Many years later, in the near-present day, a young woman in Ramallah tries to uncover some of the details surrounding this particular rape and murder, and becomes fascinated to the point of obsession, not only because of the nature of the crime, but because it was committed exactly twenty-five years to the day before she was born. Adania Shibli masterfully overlays these two translucent narratives of exactly the same length to evoke a present forever haunted by the past"--

King and the dragonflies by Kacen Callender

"In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy's grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself"--

We are not free by Traci Chee

For fourteen-year-old budding artist Minoru Ito, her two brothers, her friends, and the other members of the Japanese-American community in southern California, the three months since Pearl Harbor was attacked have become a waking nightmare: attacked, spat on, and abused with no way to retaliate--and now things are about to get worse, their lives forever changed by the mass incarcerations in the relocation camps.

Every body looking by Candice Iloh

A mixed-heritage dancer's coming of age within the African diaspora is shaped by abuse at the hands of a cousin, her mother's descent into addiction, and her father's efforts to create a Nigerian-inspired home in America.

When stars are scattered by Victoria Jamieson

"Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this intimate and touching portrayal offamily and daily life in a refugee camp"--

The Way Back by Gavriel Savit

For the Jews of Eastern Europe, demons are everywhere: dancing on the rooftops in the darkness of midnight, congregating in the trees, harrowing the dead, even reaching out to try and steal away the living.
⮜ More Featured Titles
National Medal Recipient of the National Medal, the nation's highest honor for libraries.