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Five More to Go: Edwidge Danticat’s EVERYTHING INSIDE

Five More to Go-Edwidge Danticat’s EVERYTHING INSIDE

This regular feature gives Booklist contributing reviewer Terry Hong the opportunity to shout about a recently published book she adored. She’ll tell us why we should read it, then provide five read-alikes for the title.

Everything Inside, by Edwidge Danticat

Following The Art of Death (2017), a reflection on her mother’s passing, Danticat focuses this haunting eight-story collection on, well, death. Looming death becomes a bargaining chip in “Dosas,” when an ex-husband begs his ex-wife to help save her kidnapped replacement. Death’s survivors navigate new lives in “The Gift,” which portrays an artist who lost her lover’s baby, and her lover, who has lost his wife and young daughter. Fatal illness causes a living death in “The Port-au-Prince Marriage Special,” about a young woman diagnosed with AIDS. In the final story, “Without Inspection,” a Haitian refugee recalls his life in 6.5 seconds as he plummets to his death. Danticat once again urges readers out of comfort zones to bear witness to urgent topics—refugee crises, polarizing inequity, violence, disasters—and alchemizes sorrows and tragedies into opportunities for literary enlightenment.

Below, you’ll discover five additional diverse collections (linked to their Booklist reviews when available) that will impress, resonate, inspire, and perhaps even expand your world view.

Diary of a Murderer and Other Stories, by Young-Ha Kim and translated by Krys Lee

Following the anglophoned success of Kim’s I Hear Your Voice, Kim and translator/author Krys Lee (How I Became a North Korean) reunite to deliver a quartet of provocative, unnerving stories. The novella-length “Diary of a Murderer” introduces a septuagenarian serial killer who’s keeping a journal to record whatever his Alzheimer’s doesn’t steal away while working desperately to save his daughter from her fiancé. In “Origin of Life,” two childhood friends reunite as adults and fall into an affair that (unsurprisingly) engenders fatal violence. In “Missing Child,” parents lose their toddler only to face further harrowing challenges when an unrecognizable boy is returned a decade later. In “The Writer,” a once-famous author struggling to finish start his next book is caught in a compromising situation in an N.Y.C. Chinatown apartment.

Her Body and Other Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories, by Carmen Maria Machado

Part fantasy and sci-fi, celluloid-culture homage, dystopic apocalypse, and even farce, Machado’s eight stories relentlessly defy labels. Women’s physical beings get shrunken in “Eight Bites” and erased in “Real Women Have Bodies.” Women lose agency in “The Husband Stitch” and “Difficult at Parties.” A woman must face sudden parenthood in “Mothers.” A worldwide fatal plague gets parsed through an “Inventory” of a woman’s lovers. Twelve seasons of Law & Order: SVU are pixelated into 272 “Views” in “Especially Heinous.” And a writing residency turns horrific in “The Resident.” No body is safe.

Patient X: The Case-Book of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, by David Peace

Moving from postwar Tokyo murders in Tokyo Year Zero to a 12-part dissection of mass murder in 1948 Tokyo in Occupied City, Peace concludes his lauded “Tokyo Trilogy” with the too-short, disquieting tragic life of Rashōmon (the literary source for Kurosawa’s classic film of the same name) creator Akutagawa, presented as 13 interlinked tales told by “Patient X in one of our iron castles.” Equal parts biography, myth-making, homage, and fabulous storytelling, Peace—who lived in Japan for 17 years—creates a memorable multiperspective montage of a literary legend as a troubled young man.

Spider Love Song and Other Stories, by Nancy Au

Fractured families populate Au’s provocative 17-story debut collection, which highlights parents disappearing either by choice or by death—and children who are left to endure and survive. Au further infuses her narratives with her Chinese heritage, including the horrific tragedy of the Cultural Revolution, the in-between experiences of being an immigrant, and a folkloric legacy that incorporates magic, fox spirits, and dragon gods. By book’s end, Au’s unpredictable cast has embodied far-ranging history, cultures, locations, and genres, with irreverently engaging results. For short-form connoisseurs, Au’s accomplishments will undoubtedly regale and resonate.

White Dancing Elephants, by Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Loss—by disappearance, destruction, or death—looms throughout the 17 stories in Bhuvaneswar’s award-winning debut collection, predominantly featuring women in conflict on both sides of the world. In the titular “White Dancing Elephants,” a woman experiencing a miscarriage imagines the life her child will never have. In “Talinda,” a woman gets pregnant by her terminally ill best friend’s husband. A therapist is both repulsed and obsessed with her new client in “A Shaker Chair.” In “Orange Popsicles,” a college student struggles with the horrific aftermath of being gang-raped. A lesbian relationship dissolves under cultural pressures in “Adristakama.”'

About the Author:

Terry Hong created and maintains Smithsonian BookDragon, a book blog for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. She was the writer wrangler for the film Girl Rising. She taught for Duke University’s Leadership in the Arts in NYC. She co-authored two books, Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture from Astro Boy to Zen Buddhism and What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature. She reviews extensively for many publications. Follow her on Twitter at @SIBookDragon.

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