Sophia K. Staff Picks
It is rare to come across a collection that so flawlessly blends narrative and commentary. This is one of my favorite poetry books of the year.
In this book, Jericho Brown introduces us to the duplex, a new poetic form he has invented, blending the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues. These poems ask unflinching questions about fissures in our society, but he never fails to find moments of beauty in unexpected places. I had a sneaking suspicious Jericho Brown is a genius. The Tradition confirmed it.
If you like essays that read like poems, or collections of poems that feel like essays, you'll like this book. Perfect for lovers of Lydia Davis, Maggie Nelson, Anne Carson, or Jane Hirschfield.
Towards the end of what most Americans remember as the “Roaring Twenties,” Zora Neale Hurston traveled to Alabama to interview the last known living survivor of the Middle Passage. I think this might be the most important book in the store.
“Nations don’t tear themselves in two accompanied by poetic strains of eloquence alone.” (p. 4) If you think the state of American partisan politics has “never been worse,” read this book.
If you like short stories, this should be next on your list. I read this collection the day it came out on my lunch break and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
If you only buy one hardcover in 2019, this should be it. Nobody writes like Toni Morrison, and this is a collection of some of her most beautiful thinking, distilled into thoughtful, elegant prose. She’s my favorite writer of all time.
This book contains some of the most haunting poetry I’ve ever read. M. NourbeSe Philip uses the legalese of court documents from a case in which over 100 people were murdered so that the slave ship’s owners could collect insurance to tell a story that simultaneously “cannot be told but must be told.”
This collection of short stories is incandescent; each tale unfurls with grace and precision, and then snaps shut before you’re ready for it to be finished. They get more absurd as they go on - in one, a woman rips herself out of a photograph back into real life - yet no theme is too heavy for Arimah to capture. Heartbreaking and haunting, these stories are unforgettable.