The People of Forever Are Not Afraid - Shani Boianjiu

The defiant bumper sticker declaring that The People of Forever are not Afraid (Hogarth, $14) may describe some Israelis  today, but the protagonists of Shani Boianjiu’s stunning first novel are often afraid—as well as angry, depressed, and bored. The narrative follows three young women from the end of high school through their compulsory military service and the years just after. With little mention of religion or nationalistic ideology, Boianjiu depicts a country constantly struggling to maintain control of a potentially explosive situation, thus giving rise to a society that saps individuals of will and agency, even as their stifled passions intermittently erupt. Always feeling that her “hands are tied,” one woman states that her “favorite thing in life is when I get to make a choice.” While options seem rare, imagination and dreams are plentiful, whether as a coping mechanism to alleviate stultifying shifts at checkpoints or as further symptoms of living in a permanent war zone. Boianjiu’s characters invent lives for themselves as well as for the Palestinians they interrogate, people as worn down by the situation as they are.
The People of Forever Are Not Afraid: A Novel By Shani Boianjiu Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307955975
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hogarth - June 25th, 2013

Alif the Unseen - G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson’s energetic Alif the Unseen (Grove, $16), the first literary fiction by the writer of the graphic novels Cairo and Vixen, starts with computer hackers and a forbidden love in a repressive Middle Eastern state, then adds jinns, the only remaining copy of the ancient The Thousand and One Days, and a second love story, ratcheting up the action from adventure to full-scale revolution. “Alif” is the screen handle of a coding genius willing to “help anyone with a computer and a grudge” against the government. His fight for free speech draws the wrath of the chief censor, who wants not only Alif’s programs but his beloved and the mystical text—written by jinns—he believes is the key to a code so powerful it can never be broken. As she deftly intertwines good old-fashioned chases and narrow escapes with fresh ideas about information, faith, and the transformative power of stories, Wilson has crafted a book that offers the immediacy of a thriller, the magic of fantasy, and the depth of philosophy.
Alif the Unseen By G. Willow Wilson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802121226
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Grove Press - April 2nd, 2013

We Need New Names - NoViolet Bulawayo

Darling, Bastard, Chipo, and their friends are the focus of NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel, We Need New Names (Reagan Arthur, $25). They spend their days in Paradise, a shantytown in Zimbabwe where people whose homes have been bulldozed by the government end up. Darling is just old enough to remember “before,” when things were normal—when her family had a TV and she didn’t have to steal guavas. The children are curious, bemused witnesses to a world gone mad, where even the adults have no real control or understanding of their circumstances and everyone is filled with an impotent rage. Eventually, we follow Darling to her aunt’s home in “Destroyed” (Detroit), Michigan, where she adapts, too easily in some ways and with great difficulty in others, to a place that will never really be home, and learns that abandoning one, however full of violence and despair it is, brings its own sense of loss.

We Need New Names: A Novel By NoViolet Bulawayo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316230841
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - May 20th, 2014