NPR stories about Book Reviews
November 3, 2013 In 1980s Arkansas, everyone was abuzz with Satan-paranoia. In the middle of the chaos, a teenage Scott Hutchins came across Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. What he found wasn't demonic at all — instead, it was an eye-opening, complex narrative about sad failures, washed-up movie stars and wrecked marriages.
November 1, 2013 More than a year after her death, Nora Ephron — beloved reporter, screenwriter, director, and novelist — has been memorialized in a collection of her writings. Meg Wolitzer, who enjoyed a 20-year friendship with Ephron, says The Most of Nora Ephron forms a picture of an ambitious, honest feminist who demanded a lot from life and gave back even more.
October 31, 2013 Donna Tartt is a writer who takes her time — she's published just one novel per decade since her debut in 1992. But critic Maureen Corrigan says she'd gladly wait another 10 years for a book as extraordinary as Tartt's latest work, The Goldfinch, an "exuberantly plotted triumph."
October 30, 2013 In Mira Grant's Parasite, genetically engineered tapeworms are a magic cure-all and a terrible danger. Sure, they keep their hosts healthy — but as it turns out, that's not all they do. Reviewer Genevieve Valentine says Parasite has interesting things to say about medical ethics, but reads too much like groundwork for a series.
October 29, 2013 Rebecca Walker's debut novel, Adé: A Love Story, is a whirlwind tale of romance and tragedy in Kenya. A biracial American college student falls in love with a Kenyan man, but their relationship is complicated by illness and government brutality. Reviewer Richard Torres says Walker rushes the romance and skimps on character development.
October 27, 2013 Rita Mae Brown, author of Rubyfruit Jungle and several mystery series, first read Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars in college. It's hardly a staid Latin history book — in fact, it's Brown's favorite guilty pleasure. An academic-looking cover hides a raunchy, violent, thrilling book, she says, full of "around-the-clock degradation."
October 26, 2013 J. Michael Lennon's mammoth new Norman Mailer: A Double Life draws on 25 years of access to its subject. Reviewer Alan Cheuse — himself a Mailer fan — says the biography is a "satisfying experience" that reads almost as if it came directly from the writer himself.
October 25, 2013 At first glance, poet Tess Taylor was skeptical of Brenda Hillman's 17-year, four-book series of poems on the elements. But Taylor fell for the strange and spiraling verses in Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. "I commend you to this lively, defiant, blazing book," she says.
October 24, 2013 Patricia Wright arrived in the Amazon armed only with intense curiosity about secretive owl monkeys. She emerged from the jungle on a new life trajectory. Since that singular experience, she has gone on to become well known for her work with Lemurs in Madagascar. Commentator Barbara J. King interviews Wright about her new memoir.
October 23, 2013 Claudia Roth Pierpont's new Roth Unbound looks at themes in the work of Philip Roth (no relation). All the themes, in every book by the famously prolific writer. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says it's "a dazzling if sometimes exhausting journey" that dutifully addresses Roth's foibles as well as his talent.
October 22, 2013 The women of Jezebel.com have released a new illustrated encyclopedia of "lady things" from Clueless to Clytemnestra. Reviewer Annalisa Quinn says that although The Book of Jezebel is positioned as lighthearted and unambitious, it has a serious aim — which it does not quite achieve.
October 21, 2013 The author of The Secret History returns with a novel about art, love and loss that's drawn comparisons to Oliver Twist and the Harry Potter series. Reviewer Meg Wolitzer says The Goldfinch marks a departure from Tartt's previous work, but it's a rich, absorbing read — all 771 pages of it.
October 21, 2013 Bridget Jones hasn't aged well. At 51, she's the "geriatric mum" of two small children, and finds herself yearning to plunge back into dating. Critic Maureen Corrigan says if you're looking for jolly feminist cultural commentary, you'd be better off reading a witty "encyclopedia of lady things" from the creators of the website Jezebel.