Eva's Man, by Gayl Jones

Staff Pick

Eva is notorious for keeping her secrets, only revealing her life—if that’s what she does—once it’s seemingly over.  The narrator of Jones’s stunning second novel (published in 1976 and more vital than ever), Eva has been sentenced to a prison for the criminally insane for killing and mutilating her lover. Locked in with her memories—and a volatile cell mate who bates and laughs at her—she obsessively replays thirty+ years of verbal and physical abuse by men. As she tells and retells her story she also relates those of other Black women, making the novel an important act of witnessing—and essential reading. But beyond the unblinking look at Black women’s brutalization, as well as how the currents of violence also damage the men, the book is valuable for Jones’s jaw-dropping literary skill. Eva’s interior monologue is a mesmerizing weave of repetition and rhythm; intercutting multiple scenes and voices—often two or three different ones simultaneously—Jones impeccably captures oral cadences to convey the textures of people caught in anger, pain, and frustrated longing.

Eva's Man (Celebrating Black Women Writers) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807028995
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Beacon Press - October 20th, 2020

Island, by Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen

Staff Pick

This beautiful novel is several love stories at once: the lifelong one between the narrator’s Omma and Abbe—her Faroese grandparents—the Omma’s for another man, and, principally, the complicated affections each character feels for the windswept archipelago itself. Growing up in Copenhagen as the third generation of her Danish-Faroese family, the speaker is intimately familiar with a “pathological homesickness” that leads her to retrace her grandparents’ lives. In a series of vivid snapshots intercut with her own occasional island sojourns, she recreates their courtship, year-long separation, European reunion, and highlights from the Second and Cold Wars. The novel is less about history, however, than it is about shifting currents of home and exile. Just as, after a lifetime away, the islands her Abbe “longed for existed somewhere outside geography,” the place Jacobsen evokes in her lyrical, spare, and utterly magical prose exists primarily in language. Open to any page, and the images pop: “at the end of March, winter simply fell off like a scab”; the cherry tree “grew and muttered to itself sentences of white and pink”; coves are “nature’s own solitary confinement cells.” And perhaps most salient: “home is a toponym…a place name,” and in Jacobsen’s vivid articulation, the word is everything.

Island Cover Image
ISBN: 9781782275800
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Published: Pushkin Press - September 7th, 2021

Harrow, by Joy Williams

Staff Pick

After a career spent calling people out on their mistreatment of nature, Williams could hardly be blamed if she threw up her hands now and left the species to its deadly folly. One senses despair written all over Harrow, which is set in a “post-catastrophic” world, dying because “we are dead to its astonishments,” yet also struggling—like bombed-out Phoenix—to rise anew from its ashes, but the novel doesn’t quite succumb. Challenging, even alienating—do we cheer on the elderly eco-activists with their pathetic plots, laugh at them? Both?— And what of the final, nearly Biblical, vision, as the ten-year-old judge, Jeffrey, a follower of Kafka, changes his name to Enoch (who was “taken from Earth…without passing through death”), finds and loses his beloved Green Galena ? Featuring William’s fierce language, incomparable sharp wit, searing satire, and even admirable characters, this fiction makes a powerful statement from the unprecedented pressures currently at work in the world.             


Harrow: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525657569
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - September 14th, 2021