New Releases for the Week of

June 22nd, 2021

 

 

All the Water I’ve Seen is Running

by Elias Rodrigues (W.W. Norton & Co., $26.95)

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Former high school classmates reckon with the death of a friend in this stunning debut novel.

Along the Intracoastal waterways of North Florida, Daniel and Aubrey navigated adolescence with the electric intensity that radiates from young people defined by otherness: Aubrey, a self-identified “Southern cracker” and Daniel, the mixed-race son of Jamaican immigrants. When the news of Aubrey’s death reaches Daniel in New York, years after they’d lost contact, he is left to grapple with the legacy of his precious and imperfect love for her. At ease now in his own queerness, he is nonetheless drawn back to the muggy haze of his Palm Coast upbringing, tinged by racism and poverty, to find out what happened to Aubrey. Along the way, he reconsiders his and his family’s history, both in Jamaica and in this place he once called home.

Buoyed by his teenage track-team buddies—Twig, a long-distance runner; Desmond, a sprinter; Egypt, Des’s girlfriend; and Jess, a chef—Daniel begins a frantic search for meaning in Aubrey’s death, recklessly confronting the drunken country boy he believes may have killed her. Sensitive to the complexities of class, race, and sexuality both in the American South and in Jamaica, All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running is a novel of uncommon tenderness, grief, and joy. All the while, it evokes the beauty and threat of the place Daniel calls home—where the river meets the ocean.


Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age

by David A. Price (Knopf, $28)

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The dramatic, untold story of the brilliant team whose feats of innovation and engineering created the world’s first digital electronic computer—decrypting the Nazis’ toughest code, helping bring an end to WWII, and ushering in the information age.

Planning the invasion of Normandy, the Allies knew that decoding the communications of the Nazi high command was imperative for its success. But standing in their way was an encryption machine they called Tunny (British English for “tuna”), which was vastly more difficult to crack than the infamous Enigma cipher.

To surmount this seemingly impossible challenge, Alan Turing, the Enigma codebreaker, brought in a maverick English working-class engineer named Tommy Flowers who devised the ingenious, daring, and controversial plan to build a machine that would calculate at breathtaking speed and break the code in nearly real time. Together with the pioneering mathematician Max Newman, Flowers and his team produced—against the odds, the clock, and a resistant leadership—Colossus, the world’s first digital electronic computer, the machine that would help bring the war to an end.

Drawing upon recently declassified sources, David A. Price’s Geniuses at War tells, for the first time, the full mesmerizing story of the great minds behind Colossus and chronicles the remarkable feats of engineering genius that marked the dawn of the digital age.


Who They Was

by Gabriel Krauze (Bloomsbury Publishing , $26)

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An astonishing, visceral autobiographical novel about a young man straddling two cultures: the university where he is studying English Literature and the disregarded world of London gang warfare.

The unforgettable narrator of this compelling, thought-provoking debut goes by two names in his two worlds. At the university he attends, he’s Gabriel, a seemingly ordinary, partying student learning about morality at a distance. But in his life outside the classroom, he’s Snoopz, a hard living member of London’s gangs, well-acquainted with drugs, guns, stabbings, and robbery. Navigating these sides of himself, dealing with loving parents at the same time as treacherous, endangering friends and the looming threat of prison, he is forced to come to terms with who he really is and the life he’s chosen for himself.

In a distinct, lyrical urban slang all his own, author Gabriel Krauze brings to vivid life the underworld of his city and the destructive impact of toxic masculinity. Who They Was is a disturbing yet tender and perspective-altering account of the thrill of violence and the trauma it leaves behind. It is the story of inner cities everywhere, and of the lost boys who must find themselves in their tower blocks.


Songs in Ursa Major: A Novel

by Emma Brodie (Knopf, $26.95)

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The year is 1969, and the Bayleen Island Folk Fest is abuzz with one name: Jesse Reid. Tall and soft-spoken, with eyes blue as stone-washed denim, Jesse Reid’s intricate guitar riffs and supple baritone are poised to tip from fame to legend with this one headlining performance. That is, until his motorcycle crashes on the way to the show.

Jane Quinn is a Bayleen Island local whose music flows as naturally as her long blond hair. When she and her bandmates are asked to play in Jesse Reid’s place at the festival, it almost doesn’t seem real. But Jane plants her bare feet on the Main Stage and delivers the performance of a lifetime, stopping Jesse’s disappointed fans in their tracks: A star is born.

Jesse stays on the island to recover from his near-fatal accident and he strikes up a friendship with Jane, coaching her through the production of her first record. As Jane contends with the music industry’s sexism, Jesse becomes her advocate, and what starts as a shared calling soon becomes a passionate love affair. On tour with Jesse, Jane is so captivated by the giant stadiums, the late nights, the wild parties, and the media attention, that she is blind-sided when she stumbles on the dark secret beneath Jesse’s music. With nowhere to turn, Jane must reckon with the shadows of her own past; what follows is the birth of one of most iconic albums of all time.

Shot through with the lyrics, the icons, the lore, the adrenaline of the early 70s music scene, Songs in Ursa Major pulses with romantic longing and asks the question so many female artists must face: What are we willing to sacrifice for our dreams?



Filthy Animals: A Novel

by Brandon Taylor (Riverhead Press, $26)

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A group portrait of young adults enmeshed in desire and violence, a hotly charged, deeply satisfying new work of fiction from the author of Booker Prize finalist Real Life 

In the series of linked stories at the heart of Filthy Animals, set among young creatives in the American Midwest, a young man treads delicate emotional waters as he navigates a series of sexually fraught encounters with two dancers in an open relationship, forcing him to weigh his vulnerabilities against his loneliness. In other stories, a young woman battles with the cancers draining her body and her family; menacing undercurrents among a group of teenagers explode in violence on a winter night; a little girl tears through a house like a tornado, driving her babysitter to the brink; and couples feel out the jagged edges of connection, comfort, and cruelty.

One of the breakout literary stars of 2020, Brandon Taylor has been hailed by Roxane Gay as “a writer who wields his craft in absolutely unforgettable ways.” With Filthy Animals he renews and expands on the promise made in Real Life, training his precise and unsentimental gaze on the tensions among friends and family, lovers and others. Psychologically taut and quietly devastating, Filthy Animals is a tender portrait of the fierce longing for intimacy, the lingering presence of pain, and the desire for love in a world that seems, more often than not, to withhold it.


Daughters of Sparta: A Novel 

by Claire Heywood (Dutton, $17)

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For millennia, men have told the legend of the woman whose face launched a thousand ships—but now it’s time to hear her side of the story. Daughters of Sparta is a tale of secrets, love, and tragedy from the women behind mythology’s most devastating war, the infamous Helen and her sister Klytemnestra.

As princesses of Sparta, Helen and Klytemnestra have known nothing but luxury and plenty. With their high birth and unrivaled beauty, they are the envy of all of Greece. But such privilege comes at a cost. While still only girls, the sisters are separated and married to foreign kings of their father’s choosing—the powerful Agamemnon, and his brother Menelaos. Yet even as Queens, each is only expected to do two things: birth an heir and embody the meek, demure nature that is expected of women.

But when the weight of their husbands’ neglect, cruelty, and ambition becomes too heavy to bear, Helen and Klytemnestra must push against the constraints of their society to carve new lives for themselves, and in doing so, make waves that will ripple throughout the next three thousand years.

Daughters of Sparta is a vivid and illuminating reimagining of the Siege of Troy, told through the perspectives of two women whose voices have been ignored for far too long.