Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: June 1, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am waiting on:

The Wedding Writer The Wedding Writer by Susan Schneider (publishes June 7, 2011)
From Goodreads.com:

Lucky Quinn writes up weddings for one of the hottest bridal magazines. And it wasn’t easy to get there. From humble beginnings, she outsmarted her way into the center of New York’s glamorous magazine industry – making up for her background with a sharp mind, whip-thin physique, and ceaseless ambition.

Then, in one day, her life is utterly transformed; two of the magazine’s major competitors fold, and Lucky is named Editor-in-Chief, replacing the formidable, but aging Grace Ralston, who had been at the magazine’s helm from day one. Grace taught Lucky everything she knows, but now it seems that she taught her too well…

As the ripples of Lucky’s promotion spread, the intricate lives of four women begin to unfold. Felice, Your Wedding’s elegant and unshakeable Art Director is now being shaken for the first time by troubles at home. Sara, the Fashion Director, is famed for her eagle eye for fashion trends and exquisite hair. But, for all her know-how, “the Angel of Bridal” has never come close to starring in a wedding herself – she’s picked the dress, but where’s the groom? Grace, recovering in the wake of her sudden, humiliating fall from power, must learn to accept herself – and love – after a life dedicated to fulfilling other women’s dreams. And, through it all, Lucky begins to discover just how lonely the top really is.

Seems like Devil Wears Prada meets The Wedding Planner - perfect beach read!

What are you waiting on?

Immigrant Stories Finds at BEA

I spent one day at BEA this year and as I walked the floor and spoke to publishers I was on the hunt for book recommendations for the Immigrant Stories Challenge. The publishers were great and made some excellent recommendations from their backlist and from their upcoming releases. Here is a sampling:


The Arrogant Years: One Girl's Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to BrooklynThe Arrogant Years: One Girl's Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklynby Lucette Lagnado (Ecco, publishes Sept 7, 2011)
Ellis IslandEllis Island by Kate Kerrigan (publishes June 28, 2011)

Soho Press
Tiger's Heart: The Story of a Modern Chinese WomanTiger's Heart: The Story of a Modern Chinese Woman by Aisling Juanjuan Shen (available now)

MotherlandMotherland by Vineeta Vijayaraghavan (available now)

Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream
Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream by Kiyo Sato (available now)

Other Press
The Oriental WifeThe Oriental Wife by Evelyn Toynton (publishes July 19th)
On Canaan's Side: A NovelOn Canaan's Side: A Novel  by Sebastian Barry (publishes Sep 8, 2011)


The Tricking of FreyaThe Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley (available now)


The Jew StoreThe Jew Store by Stella Suberman (Available now)

WW Norton
No Great Mischief: A NovelNo Great Mischief: A Novel by Alistair MacLeod (available now)

Europa Editions

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar CuisineThe Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky (Available now)
Broken Glass ParkBroken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky (Available now)

Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza VittorioClash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio  by Amara Lakhous (Available now)

Do you have any Immigrant Story recommendations?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

You Know When the Men Are GoneYou Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon is a collection of eight short stories focusing on deployed military and the families they leave behind on base in Fort Hood, TX.  The stories are loosely connected and present the low hum of anxiety that permeates the lives of the military and their families.  As they move through life's mundane tasks - making meals, attending doctor's appointments and walking the dog - the persistent worry and awareness of absence relentlessly chips away in the background. 

Each story is written precisely and sparely which communicates a tension that is ever present in the lives of these military families.  Many stories deal with infidelity or the threat of infidelity as either the solider or the spouse left behind tries to assuage their loneliness with the company of another.  This theme reminded me that the soldiers and their families give up more than just time with their loved ones- they also give up a sense of security and belonging that those of us in civilian life take for granted. In one story, "Remission",  Ellen, a breast cancer survivor, is one of the few women whose husband is home while almost all the others are deployed.  While she copes with fears of a return of her cancer, Ellen also competes with the military and the war in Iraq for her husband's time and attention.  John is preoccupied with his peers serving in battle and his responsibility to do whatever he can for the families they have left behind; he all but abandons his own wife in family as he tries to take care of everyone else.

Like John, many of the soldiers that return home are plagued with the effects of the time spent at war and an ever present sense of duty. There are the obvious physical effects  - Kit's injured foot ("The Last Stand") but more pernicious are the psychological effects that are carried back from war.  From night terrors that disturb sleep to problems with alcohol and meds which interrupt precious family time, these soldiers return changed and, in turn, their families are forever changed.

This collection of stories is beautifully written but what I enjoyed most about the book was how it opened my eyes to the extent of sacrifice made by the military and their families.  I always understood the risks they took and the extended time spent away from family but I didn't appreciate the constant anxiety, loneliness and isolation that can plague soldiers and their families.  Above all, I didn't appreciate how the sacrifice continues even after soldiers return home and even leave the military - their loved ones are forever changed and they live with the effects of war, physical and psychological, forever.