Reviews of the Week, with Ann Beattie, Mark Bowden, and More!

Every weekday, we feature a different review on Booklist Online that highlights starred reviews, high-demand titles, and / or titles especially relevant to our current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from June 5 through 9 so that you can revisit the week’s best books.

 

June 5

 The Red-Haired Woman, by Orhan Pamuk

Nobel laureate Pamuk’s (A Strangeness in My Mind, 2015) latest, a contemporary parable about a well-digger, his apprentice, and a mysterious stage actress draws upon ancient myths to peer deeply into “the enigma of fathers and sons,” even as it questions the relevance of such thinking in today’s world.

 

 

 

 

June 6

 Huê 1968, by Mark Bowden

Huê was Vietnam’s capital from 1802 to 1945, giving it great symbolic value. By January of 1968, it had been spared some of the worst violence that plagued other cities in South Vietnam. American intelligence agents anticipated stepped-up Vietcong attacks but viewed American military bases as the likeliest targets. Instead, Huê endured one of the most prolonged, vicious, and politically decisive battles of the Vietnam War.

 

June 7

 We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembledby Wendy Pearlman

Between 2012 and 2016, Northwestern University professor Pearlman spoke with hundreds of displaced Syrians. In her introduction to this collection of her interviewees’ personal stories, told in their own words, Pearlman gives a valuable overview of recent Syrian history and explains the book’s organization. She writes that Syrians are commonly viewed as victims of a catastrophic civil war, refugees to harbor, or radicals to fear, while they are for certain “a population that meets with too few opportunities to represent itself.”

 

 

June 8

 Of Jenny and the Aliens, by Ryan Gebhart

Earth has just gotten word of intelligent life on another planet. Derek is about to turn 18, lose his virginity, fall in love, smoke up with an alien, see his broken family start to mend, and either broker world peace or an intergalactic war. It’s going to be a busy month. Derek is a lovable, imperfect doofus, aimlessly floating through life since learning about his dad’s secret second family. Jenny, strong willed and quirky, is mourning her older brother, who was killed in a distant military conflict.

 

June 9

 The Accomplished Guest, by Ann Beattie

Accomplished short story writer Beattie lifted the title for her newest collection from Emily Dickinson, an apt homage given that, as the poet advises in one of her most quoted phrases, Beattie seeks to “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” Here, each story portrays a guest whose accomplishment is disruption, triggering cascades of memories and actions hilarious, disturbing, or tragic.

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