This week’s list of suggested titles was compiled by Emily Wall, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Alaska Southeast.
Michael Cunningham: “A Home at the End of the World”
This book chronicles two gay men and their best friend Claire who they have a baby with. Cunningham really explores the politics of sexuality and what it means to make a family and a home. Each of the three characters is gorgeously complex and you can’t help falling in love with all of them, even as they make these heartbreaking mistakes. Cunningham is a pulitzer-prize winning author and this is my favorite of his books.
David Wong Louie: “The Jade Peony”
This novel is set in Vancouver, Canada and explores the immigrant experience of those who built Vancouver’s Chinatown (or “Gold Mountain”). It’s set against a backdrop of WWII and explores politics, nationality, the deep loss of identity and connection between first and second generation immigrants. Choy gives us such a unique view into this community. It’s the best exploration of Chinatown and the immigrant experience I’ve ever read.
Jonathan Franzen: “The Corrections”
This is one of those books that should have won the Pulitzer. It’s a book that explores one family and the incredible complex machinations that destroy the idea of family. The books moves between narrators, focusing on each of the three children and on their mother. You will probably recognize yourself in this book. I’ve read it five times and keep coming back to it.
Anne Lamott: “Crooked Little Heart”
It was hard to know which Lamott to put on the list as they are all amazing--both her fiction and non-fiction. If you don’t know her, this is a good one to start with. Lamott is wickedly funny and sharp--she’s one of those writers who takes you on this amazing inner journey through her mind as she writes. She is the most irreverent and yet spiritual writers I’ve ever read. She’s changing the way we think about “spirituality” in literature.
Nick Hornby: “A Long Way Down”
And finally, a book I find absolutely hilarious. Hornby is a British writer who is one of the funniest and most entertaining literary writers I know. He’s the author of “About a Boy” (which was made into the film starring Hugh Grant) but this one is his best, I think. The book opens with four people who don’t know each other who end up on a rooftop on New Year’s Eve, intending to commit suicide. You won’t be able to stop laughing when you read this one.
• This recurring Arts feature offers short lists of book suggestions compiled by different local readers. Submit your own list at firstname.lastname@example.org.