Agaat, by Marlene van Niekerk

Staff Pick


Like a South African Faulkner, van Niekerk has written a stunning, densely layered narrative of race, class, and frustrated dreams.  Looking back from 1996, the paralyzed and mute Milla recalls her life on an Africaaner farm: she struggles to understand her bitter marriage, her son’s estrangement and, most of all, her complex relationship with Agaat. Over forty years ago Milla saved the black child from starvation and abuse and, but for the strictures of apartheid, would have continued to treat her as an adopted daughter instead of making her a servant. Now Milla’s sole caregiver, Agaat is capable and inscrutable, tender and petty. The two women know each other so intimately they communicate without speaking. They intuit each other’s needs and know how to inflict fresh pain, even as the wounds of the past continue to fester. Resentment, unspoken love, and withheld secrets make Milla’s last months as tense, dramatic, and rich as any in her life.

Agaat Cover Image
By Marlene Van Niekerk, Michiel Heyns (Translated by), Mary Gaitskill (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781951142209
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Tin House Books - December 1st, 2020

Owls of the Eastern Ice, by Jonathan C. Slaght

Staff Pick

With its wild yellow eyes and outsize ear tufts, the Blakiston’s fish owl resembles a mad professor, and once Slaght caught sight of one as a teenager in Russia in the 1980s, he never forgot it. So when he needed a dissertation topic in 2006 he designed a five-year project to study the owls’ habits and develop a plan to rebuild its dwindling populations. His riveting account of these winter field studies in Russia’s far southeastern Primorye Province is written with both passion and scientific exactitude—and well leavened with humor and striking prose. Attentive to the owls’ entire ecosystem, Slaght interweaves detailed descriptions of the birds’ hunting prowess and haunting courtship duets with vivid portraits of the fish, insects, plants, and mammals they share the forests with. This last includes not only tigers and deer, but loggers, poachers, and all manner of colorful backwoods characters, both sober and not. Throughout, Slaght treats all his subjects with empathy and insight—reserving harsh judgment only for his own perceived failures to protect the owls from the disruption of capture and tagging his study imposes—evidence enough that, despite moments of stress, these birds are in good hands.


Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374228484
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 4th, 2020

Earth Keeper, by N. Scott Momaday

Staff Pick

Holding an eagle feather, Momaday notes that though it may seem a small thing, it shares the tremendous power of the creature it came from. The same is true for this deceptively slight collection of Kiowa wisdom literature. Though barely a paragraph long, each entry partakes of the greater wonder and beauty of the earth that has “nourish[ed]” the hearts of countless generations. In considering elements of the natural world ranging from grasshoppers and butterflies to horses and the Northern Lights, these stories and memories affirm the ancient connection between humans and the planet, one grounded in mutual belief and trust. They also look hard at the “terrible wounds” our “disease of indifference” to life has caused, and show that healing is a matter not of shame, but of learning to look and listen to the Earth.


Earth Keeper: Reflections on the American Land Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063009332
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Harper - November 3rd, 2020