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In ten clever and engaging short stories, Canadian author Zsuzsi Gartner explores trials of modern life imbued with the fantastical. Shortlisted for the 2011 Giller Prize, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives consists largely of characters that come from places of relative privilege. Gartner often skewers the ridiculousness of that privilege, but always manages to take her characters and their dissatisfactions seriously. Read More
  Ever since her adolescence, Rosie Schaap, who writes the “Drink” column for The New York Times, has felt an attraction to bars. As a teenager, her obsession begins when she starts giving tarot card readings in exchange for beer in the bar car of the Metro North commuter train. When she attends college in a small town where the local bar is the only means of entertainment, drinking in bars becomes Schaap’s devoted hobby. Read More
  Charming. Candid. Compelling. All of these words describe Beth Ditto—and all of them equally sum up her new memoir. Chronicling Ditto’s rise to international fame, the book starts with her humble beginnings in her conservative, tiny Arkansas hometown. While struggling to survive amidst crippling poverty, young Ditto endures sexual abuse early at the hands of a family friend, and learns that this has been the norm for many of her family members. Read More
Born in Nigeria and raised in England, Noo Saro-Wiwa avoided visiting her native country after her father, a prominent political activist, was killed there for speaking out against government corruption. Years later, Saro-Wiwa, a travel writer, decided to return to Nigeria and explore her love-hate relationship with her homeland. Her journey both reinforces and calls into question her ethnic identity: a visit to her home village means that she is in the one place in the world where people can pronounce her name correctly; yet her grasp on the local dialect is shaky at best. Read More
The reference to “six granddaughters” in the title of this dark, complex novel is deceiving: two are dead. One dies as an infant and pulls a shroud of everlasting grief over the family, and the other narrates the entire novel from beyond the grave while she floats in an afterlife. At the heart of the novel is Cecilia, a beautiful poet who is perceived as being the most talented and attractive among the granddaughters. Nonetheless, she is plagued by many demons, not the least of which is abuse at the hands of a mysterious man. Read More