Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir
By Ashley C. Ford
It’s a “reckoning with your past to take hold of your future” kind of story. One of the most powerful debut novels of the year is a memoir of a poor and difficult childhood in Indiana.
Klara and the Sun
By Kazuo Ishiguro
This is the eighth novel by the 2017 Nobel Prize-winning writer, and it’s not the first time Ishiguro chooses a dystopian science fiction world led by a first-person female voice. Klara is the artificial friend of 14-year-old human child Josie. Her preoccupation with the sun – something beyond her ability to understand – provides us with another of Ishiguro’s famous lessons in sensitivity.
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
By Patrick Radden Keefe
The role of the Sackler family in the opioid crisis has been widely discussed, but rarely in such shocking, in-depth detail. It’s a family story that follows the founding of Purdue Pharma up to the scandal.
Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth
By Wole Soyinka
This 87-year-old Nigerian writer was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986 (the first African laureate). This is his debut as a novelist – an experiment with a form that is perhaps more suitable for social satire.
Vitamina T for Tacos
By Mando Rayo and Suzanne Garcia-Mateus
This children’s alphabet book presents each letter in a taco context, going through taco types, ingredients and toppings. The focus is on the Latinx community’s food, culture and embracing their love for tacos. A cultural guide, manifesto and a taco dictionary.
By Hervé Le Tellier
Published in France in 2020, this genre-bending psychological thriller is based during a flight between Paris and New York in March 2021. The novel comes from a member of the legendary literary group Oulipo that combines literature and math.
Everyday Mojo Songs Of The Earth
By Yusef Komunyakaa
New and reprinted poems from the Louisiana-born Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Komunyakaa. Subjects range from the Black experience and rural Southern life to Komunyakaa’s experience during the Vietnam War.
Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy
By Christophe Jaffrelot
A powerful account of how a popularly elected leader has steered the world’s largest democracy toward nationalism, authoritarianism and religious intolerance.
The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness
By Suzanne O’Sullivan
An Irish neurologist investigates psychosomatic disorders traveling the world to track mystery illnesses, from Kazakhstan to Nicaragua and Colombia. Riveting and distressing.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
By Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
The 2021 debut novel by an American poet explores the history of an African-American family in Georgia. The title refers to the Black intellectual, sociologist and civil rights activist who was omnipresent in Jeffers’ cultural environment.
Beautiful World, Where Are You
By Sally Rooney
One of the most important voices of her generation, this young Irish writer is famous for her matter-of-fact descriptions of the contemporary world, including money and class. A story of a “love quadrangle” in the times of late capitalism.
What Is a River?
By Monika Vaicenaviciene
A picture book for children that touched the world. A Lithuanian illustrator working in Sweden explains the magic of a river – and its ability to connect.
The Secret Keeper
By Alka Joshi
Local author Joshi continues with the success of The Henna Artist, publishing her second novel. This Pacific Grove-based writer left India for the U.S. when she was 9, but her stories based in India don’t end.
Aftershocks: Pandemic Politics and the End of the Old International Order
By Colin Kahl and Thomas Wright
This book provides an important analysis of the pandemic’s ongoing impact on foundational world institutions and the order constructed and abandoned by the U.S. As a result, the writers claim, during Covid each country has followed its own path – nationalizing supplies, ignoring the rest of the world.
By Jonathan Franzen
Franzen is back with another big, thick novel. Both beloved and hated by readers, he remains the leading American naturalist faithful to the tradition of a novel as a “mirror.”
The Gilded Edge: Two Audacious Women and the Cyanide Love Triangle That Shook America
By Catherine Prendergast
Prendergast teaches at the University of Illinois, but we consider this book a local treat since the story she chose to tell, of Nora May French and Caroline “Carrie” Sterling, largely took place in Carmel. And it upends the mythology of Carmel’s bohemian founding story.
By John le Carré
This British-Irish master of espionage novels died in 2020. This is the last adventure prepared by le Carré, set in a calm English seaside town.
The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet
By John Green
A collection of funny, personal essays. Green looks at the changes we face as humanity with dread, bewilderment and the need to find hope.
The Atlas of Disappearing Places: Our Coasts and Oceans in the Climate Crisis
By Christina Conklin and Marina Psaros
A local pick, a work of art, and a great resource to learn about the devastating consequences of the climate crisis around the world. Both writers are based in San Francisco.
By Glodean Champion
Champion, now Monterey-based, wrote this story of a 12-year-old Zayla. Set in an environment of racism and everyday police brutality, the vibrant neighborhood of Watts, Los Angeles comes alive as Zayla comes of age.
Free: A Child and a Country at the End of History
By Lea Ypi
This novel will be published in the U.S. in January 2022 so we are cheating. Set in early-1990s Albania during the transition to the “free market,” the book examines the newly-gained freedom that brought organized crime and sex trafficking.