At Louisville Literary Arts, we all love to read. But our interests in literature are as varied as hats on Derby Day. Some of us gravitate toward poetry, while others prefer an epic novel. A few of us love reading true stories in creative nonfiction. In this space, we recommend recent books we've read, and hope that you'll find something just right for your reading list.
Kim recommends: THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON by Adam Johnson (Random House, 2012)
Genre: Literary fiction
"Adam Johnson won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel, an epic adventure and an exploration of human nature. The protagonist—a loner without family ties or a discernible future—becomes a linguist, a radio operator, a man of tunnels, a sailor/kidnapper, a diplomat to Texas, a prisoner in a labor camp, and an imposter. Johnson creates individual and corporate characters using a third person protagonist, a first-person interrogator, and the voice of a loudspeaker that blasts propaganda to the “citizens” of the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il—also a character. Adventure and romance aside, this novel is impressive because of its sensitivity toward its characters, some of whom must perform evil deeds for a nation that punishes individual thought and action. It is chilling to sympathize with a character whose job is interrogation and torture. Yet, this sort of humanization is what a novel should accomplish."
Adam Johnson will be the Keynote Reader at LLA's 2015 Writer's Block Festival.
John recommends: MODEL OF A CITY IN CIVIL WAR by Adam Day (Sarabande, 2015)
"Adam Day's MODEL OF A CITY IN CIVIL WAR tackles subjects ranging from the most intimate of spheres—of father, romance, and parenting—to sweeping, fractured historical narratives. Even the longer poems are compact, functioning more through associative leaps than through traditional narrative tactics. Dark, yes, but rewarding—and worthy of second, third, and even tenth readings—Day's debut collection will leave you puzzled, jarred, and asking for more."
Amy recommends: ANNIHILATION by Jeff Vandermeer (FSG Orginals, 2014)
Genre: Science Fiction
"This first book of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy follows an expedition composed of four women into the mysterious Area X. Area X suddenly appeared in Florida years ago, and all the previous expeditions have met strange ends. This tale of environmental transfiguration and human metamorphosis is a truly unique story that will both frighten and fascinate you."