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Mian's Staff Picks

GIOVANNI'S ROOM

GIOVANNI'S ROOM

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James Baldwin's groundbreaking novel about love and the fear of love is set among the bohemian bars and nightclubs of 1950s Paris.

In the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.

A book that belongs in the top rank of fiction." --The Atlantic

GOLDEN NOTEBK

GOLDEN NOTEBK

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The Golden Notebook is Doris Lessing's most important work and has left its mark upon the ideas and feelings of a whole generation of women. -- New York Times Book Review

Anna is a writer, author of one very successful novel, who now keeps four notebooks. In one, with a black cover, she reviews the African experience of her earlier years. In a red one she records her political life, her disillusionment with communism. In a yellow one she writes a novel in which the heroine relives part of her own experience. And in a blue one she keeps a personal diary. Finally, in love with an American writer and threatened with insanity, Anna resolves to bring the threads of all four books together in a golden notebook.

Lessing's best-known and most influential novel, The Golden Notebook retains its extraordinary power and relevance decades after its initial publication.

HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES: ST

HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES: ST

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Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction

"[These stories] vibrate with originality, queerness, sensuality and the strange."--Roxane Gay

"In these formally brilliant and emotionally charged tales, Machado gives literal shape to women's memories and hunger and desire. I couldn't put it down."--Karen Russell

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.

Notes of a Native Son

Notes of a Native Son

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#26 on The Guardian's list of 100 best nonfiction books of all time, the essays explore what it means to be Black in America

In an age of Black Lives Matter, James Baldwin's essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written. With films like I Am Not Your Negro and the forthcoming If Beale Street Could Talk bringing renewed interest to Baldwin's life and work, Notes of a Native Son serves as a valuable introduction.

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being black in America. With a keen eye, he examines everything from the significance of the protest novel to the motives and circumstances of the many black expatriates of the time, from his home in "The Harlem Ghetto" to a sobering "Journey to Atlanta."

Notes of a Native Son inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the twentieth century, and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic. His criticism on topics such as the paternalism of white progressives or on his own friend Richard Wright's work is pointed and unabashed. He was also one of the few writing on race at the time who addressed the issue with a powerful mixture of outrage at the gross physical and political violence against black citizens and measured understanding of their oppressors, which helped awaken a white audience to the injustices under their noses. Naturally, this combination of brazen criticism and unconventional empathy for white readers won Baldwin as much condemnation as praise.

Notes is the book that established Baldwin's voice as a social critic, and it remains one of his most admired works. The essays collected here create a cohesive sketch of black America and reveal an intimate portrait of Baldwin's own search for identity as an artist, as a black man, and as an American.

PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED

PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED

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THE CLASSIC NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A wonderful, splendid book--a book that should be read by every American, student or otherwise, who wants to understand his country, its true history, and its hope for the future. -Howard Fast

Historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States chronicles American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official narrative taught in schools--with its emphasis on great men in high places--to focus on the street, the home, and the workplace.

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, it is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of--and in the words of--America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As Zinn shows, many of our country's greatest battles--the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, racial equality--were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance.

Covering Christopher Columbus's arrival through President Clinton's first term, A People's History of the United States features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history. This edition also includes an introduction by Anthony Arnove, who wrote, directed, and produced The People Speak with Zinn and who coauthored, with Zinn, Voices of a People's History of the United States.

SWIM IN A POND IN THE RAIN: IN

SWIM IN A POND IN THE RAIN: IN

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From the New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December comes a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves--and our world today.

For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it's more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.

In his introduction, Saunders writes, "We're going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn't fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art--namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?" He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible.