The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts By Milan Kundera; Hardcover, 176 pages; List Price: $22.95
For a serious playwright, Kundera's book-length essay on the history of the novel is essential reading.
Ruhl says his "lightness of touch about serious matters" makes the work by the renowned Franco-Czech author accessible. Kundera provides insight into his own novels as he explains his personal philosophy of writing and reading. And rather than studying writers through the lens of nationality, Kundera proposes a world literature that looks at how writers learn from each other.
"He doesn't talk about novels in a dry, theoretical way. He takes you in precisely the way he feels and experiences them," Ruhl says. "So it's as though you are having a conversation with this great man of ideas over a cup of tea."
The Adrienne Kennedy Reader By Adrienne Kennedy; Paperback, 328 pages; List Price: $20.00
Ruhl calls playwright Adrienne Kennedy "an impressionist on the stage." This first major collection of Kennedy's work includes her Obie-award-winning plays "Funnyhouse of a Negro" and "June and Jean in Concert." Her feminist texts and often deal with the topic of racism from the viewpoint of an African American woman who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s.
Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil By John Ghazvinian; Hardcover, 336 pages; List Price: $25.00
As western relations with the Middle East falter, Africa's light, sweet crude oil is in hot demand. Oxford historian Ghazvinian visits a dozen oil producing nations in Africa to find out how they've been affected by the oil boom. Armed with cash, malaria pills and notebooks, Ghazvinian conducts ground-level interviews with people who seem ready to assault him. He explores the relationship between Nigeria and Angola and the major oil companies doing business there, as well as the unsettling ethnic conflicts and economic imbalances plaguing them.
Hopper By Mark Strand; Paperback, 80 pages; List Price: $15.00
Strand, a poet who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for his poem, "Blizzard of One," provides an intimate look into the paintings of American realist Edward Hopper. He peels away the layers of more than two dozen paintings, discussing what's going on in the lives of the people in Hopper's hotel rooms, diners, storefronts and gas stations. The brooding familiarity of Hopper's scenes, Strand writes, remind him of "scenes from my own past."
Goodnight Moon By Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd; Paperback, 32 pages; List Price: $6.99
A new mother, Ruhl says this children's classic is a favorite of her daughter, Anna. Hurd's short poem of goodnight wishes features a rabbit who says goodnight to nearly everything in sight. The simple illustrations alternate between black-and-white ink, and bright, colorful pictures of the rabbit's room.