NPR stories about Book Reviews
April 11, 2013 Christian Wiman's new essay collection, My Bright Abyss, explores his ideas about faith and life during a time of intense crisis — in Wiman's case, a rare and painful cancer. Reviewer Walton Muyumba says Wiman's "intense questioning and dense resolutions are challenging," but ultimately rewarding.
April 10, 2013 Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings follows a group of teens who meet in the '70s at an artsy summer camp and remain friends for the rest of their lives. Reviewer Lizzie Skurnick says the book is about changes in the world as well as in the characters.
April 10, 2013 Fiona Maazel's new novel, Woke Up Lonely, is a deliriously inventive tale of love and spycraft. Utopian cult leader Thurlow pines for his ex-wife Esme. She uses her CIA connections to keep him safe under her surveillance in a story layered with espionage, sex and jokes about Kim Jong Il.
April 11, 2013 In her new memoir, Shocked, Volk examines the two women who had a lasting impact on her as she began to parse who she was as a woman: her beautiful, critical mother, Audrey Morgen Volk; and the famous — and unconventional — haute couture designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
April 9, 2013 Six teens at a summer arts camp dub themselves, only somewhat ironically, "the Interestings" in Meg Wolitzer's novel of the same name. As the book follows the friends into love, marriage and adulthood, some realize their artistic ambitions while others adjust to less interesting lives.
April 7, 2013 Sara Suleri Goodyear's heartbreaking memoir, Meatless Days, describes growing up in post-colonial Pakistan with an elegiac immediacy. Author Rajesh Parameswaran says the book does justice to the way memory actually lives in the mind.
April 4, 2013 The young heroine of Rachel Kushner's new book The Flamethrowers negotiates art and revolution from the back of a motorcycle — both the late-1970s art scene in Manhattan and the Italian radical left of the same era. Reviewer Maud Newton says The Flamethrowers has "timeless urgency."
April 3, 2013 James Salter is a master prose stylist whose deceptively simple sentences reveal the sensations and truth of experience. In All That Is, he conjures the life and times of Philip Bowman, who, returning to New York after World War II, pursues love and a publishing career, with unequal success.
April 2, 2013 In real life, people have to make choices. But the fictional Ursula Todd gets to live out several realities, all set in 20th century Europe. Reviewer Meg Wolitzer says Kate Atkinson's playfully experimental novel ends up capturing what life is really like.
April 2, 2013 Patricia Volk's new memoir, Shocked, chronicles her complex relationship with her beautiful, exacting mother. She finds a useful contrast to her mother's stifled life in a memoir by avant-garde designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Reviewer Heller McAlpin calls the book a "stylish coming-of-age tale."
March 31, 2013 In this novel about sadness and delusion, critic Harold Augenbraum says, "love ... tatters its own lovers." What's your favorite tragic novel? Tell us in the comments.
March 29, 2013 Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for her last novel, Olive Kitteridge. Her follow-up, The Burgess Boys, is a sure-handed meditation on a family fractured by tragedy. Reviewer Lizzie Skurnick says Skurnick's "deft touch" comes through in the subtle betrayals of her characters.