Archive for books

RACHEL NAGELBERG READS FROM HER DEBUT NOVEL THE FIFTH WALL WITH STEPHEN BEACHY

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 24th, 2017

The Fifth Wall (Black Sparrow Books)

In this debut novel by Rachel Nagelberg, conceptual artist Sheila B. Ackerman heeds a mysterious urge to return to her estranged family home and arrives at the exact moment of her mother’s suicide. In an attempt to cope with and understand her own self destructive tendencies, Sheila plants a camera on the lawn outside the house to film 24/7 while workers deconstruct the physical object that encases so many of her memories. Meanwhile, as she begins to experience frequent blackouts, she finds herself hunting a robot drone through the San Francisco MOMA with a baseball bat, part of a provocative, technological show, The Last Art, and resuming a violent affair with her college professor. With a backdrop of post-9/11 San Francisco, Sheila navigates the social-media- obsessed, draught-ridden landscape of her life, exploring the frail line between the human impulse to control everything that takes place around us and the futility of excessive effort to do so. The Fifth Wall allows readers to explore from a safe distance the recesses of their own minds, leaving the haunting feeling of depths that yet remain unknown.

Praise for The Fifth Wall

Set into motion by an inexplicable, traumatic and violent real-life event, Rachel Nagelberg’s brilliant first novel begins at the limits of contemporary art, as it attempts to reflect the ungraspable present. Born in 1984 into a familiarly frayed American family, her protagonist Sheila B. Ackerman, a former art student, is neither especially likable or unlikeable: that is, she’s incredibly real.  A close artistic cousin to Joni Murphy’s Double Teenage and Natasha Stagg’s Surveys, The Fifth Wall is a new kind of novel. Female and philosophical, emotion flows through the book across a dense and familiarly incomprehensible web of information, from satellite selfies to awkward sex to internet beheadings and shamanic tourism in the third world. Nagelberg's engrossing narration is littered with stunning perception: We look into the distance to be able to see what’s right in front of us.  She writes without affect, and with unselfconscious acuity.That is, she writes really well.  – Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick

"Nagelberg has a true gift, able to write gorgeously on the line level with unctuous images. And simultaneously, there's a readable page-turner here. Most of us are lucky to do one of those, which is a testament to the singular talent.  This book cascades beauty and meaning and truth.– Joshua Mohr, author of All This Life and Termite Parade, a New York Times Editor’s Choice pick

"The Fifth Wall crackles with braininess and sex. It's hallucinatory and interactive and funny and sad and it has something incandescent to show you." – Stephen Beachy, author of The Whistling Song and Distortion, and professor at the University of San Francisco 

Rachel Nagelberg is an American novelist, poet, and conceptual artist living in Los Angeles. The Fifth Wall is her debut novel.

Stephen Beachy is the author of the novels boneyard, Distortion, and The Whistling Song, and the twin novellas Some Phantom/No Time Flat. He has also written and is continuing to write the “Amish Terror” sci-fi series that begins with Zeke Yoder vs. the Singularity, and his newest novel Glory Hole will be published by FC2 fall of 2017. He is Prose Editor of the journal Your Impossible Voice, teaches in the MFA Program at the University of San Francisco, and lives in San Diego.

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DANIEL JOSE RUIZ READS FROM HIS DEBUT NOVEL COCONUT VERSUS WITH BRUCE BAUMAN

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2017

Coconut Versus (Floricanto Press)

This powerful and tempestuous coming-of- age novel follows a young man on the outside looking in, an interloper wherever he goes.

Everyone calls Miguel Reyes a coconut, brown on the outside and white on the inside. Among his family in central California, he’s the too soft city-boy. In Arizona, he’s a brown boy in an upper-class, white neighborhood, with no real friends, while in Los Angeles, he’s a fake Mexican that speaks too good.

Again, and again, Miguel finds himself seething at the injustice a young man feels at every turn of his adolescence. Then, in a moment, he must decide whether or not another man lives or dies.

Praise for Coconut Versus

“Daniel Ruiz, in taut and urgent prose, that often takes your breath away, (like a punch to your gut), reveals the often turbulent life of Miguel Reyes as he navigates his way from confused child to manhood. With a cast of characters ranging from fierce to loving to humorous, Ruiz has given us an essential bildungsroman befitting America in the 21st Century.”—Bruce Bauman, author of the novels And the Word Was and Broken Sleep

“Coconut Versus is a coming of age story that brims with energy and originality as it travels across modern, millennial California. Daniel Ruiz uses his ample gifts as a writer and observer of his generation’s longings to spin tales of love, rage and self-knowledge that are intelligently and passionately told."—Héctor Tobar, author of The Barbarian Nurseries and Deep Down Dark

Daniel Jose Ruiz is a graduate of the CalArts MFA program, and is a Professor of English at Los Angeles City College. Coconut Versus is his first novel.

Bruce Bauman is the award-winning author of the novels And the Word Was and Broken Sleep. Michael Silverblatt, on Bookworm, has called Broken Sleep “funny, heartbreaking and beautiful.” Other reviewers have compared Bauman's work to Saul Bellow, Robert Stone, Thomas Pynchon and John Irving.  

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MPEN USA PRESENTS YA RESISTS: YOUNG ADULT AUTHORS READ OUT

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2017

PEN USA presents YA Resists: Young Adult Authors Read Out 

Join PEN Center USA and Skylight Books as we host 12 young adult authors reading about resistance and hope in troubled times. They will each read from books for young people that highlight, protest, suggest action and resistance.  

Guests will include:
Cecil Castellucci 
Cherry Cheva 
Brandy Colbert 
Cylin Busby
Lilliam Rivera
Maureen Goo
Kristen Kittscher
Lindsey Klingele 
Mark London
Gretchen McNeil
Sherri L Smith
Janet Tashijan 
Diana Wagman  

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DEEPAK UNNIKRISHNAN READS FROM HIS DEBUT NOVEL TEMPORARY PEOPLE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2017

Temporary People (Restless Books)

In the United Arab Emirates, foreign nationals constitute over 80 percent of the population. Brought in to construct and serve the towering monuments to wealth that punctuate the skylines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, this labor force is not given the option of citizenship. Some ride their luck to good fortune. Others suffer different fates. Until now, the humanitarian crisis of the so-called “guest workers” of the Gulf has barely been addressed in fiction. With his stunning, mind-altering debut novel Temporary People, Deepak Unnikrishnan delves into their histories, myths, struggles, and triumphs.

Combining the linguistic invention of Salman Rushdie and the satirical vision of George Saunders, Unnikrishnan presents twenty-eight linked stories that careen from construction workers who shapeshift into luggage and escape a labor camp, to a woman who stitches back together the bodies of those who’ve fallen from buildings in progress, to a man who grows ideal workers designed to live twelve years and then perish—until they don’t, and found a rebel community in the desert. With this polyphony of voices, Unnikrishnan maps a new, unruly global English and gives personhood back to the anonymous workers of the Gulf.

Praise for Temporary People

"Guest workers of the United Arab Emirates embody multiple worlds and identities and long for home in a fantastical debut work of fiction, winner of the inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.... The author's crisp, imaginative prose packs a punch, and his whimsical depiction of characters who oscillate between two lands on either side of the Arabian Sea unspools the kind of immigrant narratives that are rarely told. An enchanting, unparalleled anthem of displacement ​ and repatriation.​" —​Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Inaugural winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, this debut novel employs its own brand of magical realism to propel readers into an understanding and appreciation of the experience of foreign workers in the Arab Gulf States (and beyond). Through a series of almost 30 loosely linked sections, grouped into three parts, we are thrust into a narrative alternating between visceral realism and fantastic satire.... The alternation between satirical fantasy, depicting such things as intelligent cockroaches and evil elevators, and poignant realism, with regards to necessarily illicit sexuality, forms a contrast that gives rise to a broad critique of the plight of those known euphemistically as “guest workers.” VERDICT: This first novel challenges readers with a singular inventiveness expressed through a lyrical use of language and a laserlike focus that is at ​ once charming and terrifying. Highly recommended​.” —Henry Bankhead, ​Library Journal, Starred Review

“Deepak writes brilliant stories with a fresh, passionate energy​. Every page feels as if it must have been written, as if the author had no choice. He writes about exile, immigration, deportation, security checks, rage, patience, about the homelessness of living in a foreign land, about historical events so strange that, under his hand, the events become tales, and he writes tales so precisely that they read like history. Important work. Work of the future. This man will not be stopped.”—Deb Olin Unferth, author of ​Revolution

“Unnikrishnan’s debut novel shines a light on a little known world with compassion and keen insight. The Temporary People are invisible people—but Unnikrishnan brings them to us with compassion, intelligence, and heart. This is why novels matter​.” —Susan Hans O’Connor, Penguin Bookshop

“From the strange Kafka-esque scenarios to the wholly original language, this book is amazing on so many different levels. Unlike anything I've ever read, Temporary People is a powerful work of short stories about foreign nationals who populate the new economy in the United Arab Emirates. With inventive language and darkly satirical plot lines, Unnikrishnan provides an important view of relentless nature of a global economy and its brutal consequences for human lives. Prepare to be wowed by the immensely talented new voice.”​ —Hilary Gustafson, Literati Bookstore

“Absolutely preposterous! As a debut, author Unnikrishnan shares stories of laborers, brought to the United Arab Emirates to do menial and everyday jobs. These people have no rights, no fallback if they have problems or health issues in that land. The laborers in Temporary People are sewn back together when they fall, are abandoned in the desert if they become inconvenient, and are even grown from seeds. As a collection of short stories, this is fantastical, imaginative, funny, and even more so, scary, powerful, and ferocious​.”—Becky Milner, Vintage Books 

Deepak Unnikrishnan ​was raised in the United Arab Emirates. ​He is a resident of Chicago and a lecturer at the Chicago Art Institute, and he has taught at New York University Abu Dhabi. Temporary People, his first book, was the inaugural winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

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BEN BLATT DICUSSES HIS BOOK NABOKOV’S FAVORITE WORD IS MAUVE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2017

Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing (Simon & Schuster)

Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve is a playful and informative look at what the numbers have to say about our favorite authors and their classic books. It’s How Fiction Works or Eats, Shoots & Leaves meets Nate Silver.

There’s a famous piece of writing advice—offered by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and myriad writers in between—not to use ‘ly’ adverbs. It sounds like solid advice, but can we actually test it? If we were to count all the ‘ly’ adverbs these authors used in their careers, do they follow their own advice compared to other celebrated authors? What’s more, do great books in general—the classics and the bestsellers—share this trait?

In Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, statistician and journalist Ben Blatt brings big data to the literary canon, exploring the wealth of fun findings that remain hidden in the works of the world’s greatest writers. He assembles a database of thousands of books and hundreds of millions of words, and starts asking the questions that have intrigued curious word nerds and book lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? Are bestsellers getting dumber over time? Which contemporary writer uses the most clichés? What makes a great opening sentence? How can we judge a book by its cover? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring?

Blatt draws upon existing analysis techniques and invents some of his own. All of his investigations and experiments are original, conducted himself, and no math knowledge is needed to understand the results. Blatt breaks his findings down into lucid, humorous language and clear and compelling visuals. This eye-opening book will provide you with a new appreciation for your favorite authors and a fresh perspective on your own writing, illuminating both the patterns that hold it together and the brilliant flourishes that make it unforgettable.

Praise for Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve

“What fun this is! Ben Blatt’s charming book applies numerical know-how to questions of literary style, teasing out insights about cliffhangers, adverbs, and whether Americans write ‘more loudly’ than the British. (Spoiler: WE DO!!!)”—Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not to Be Wrong

“Ben Blatt’s delightful book gives us an original big data perspective on great writers’ work. Its humor, insights, and statistical displays are fascinating to behold, even as it helps us develop our own writing.”—Carl N. Morris, Professor Emeritus of Statistics, Harvard University

“Blatt provides amiable and intelligent narration, and literature enthusiasts will enjoy the hypotheses he poses and his imaginative methods.”—Publishers Weekly

Ben Blatt is a former staff writer for Slate and The Harvard Lampoon who has taken his fun approach to data journalism to topics such as Seinfeld, mapmaking, The Beatles, and Jeopardy! His previous book, co-written with Eric Brewster, is I Don't Care if We Never Get Back, which follows the duo’s quest to go on the mathematically optimal baseball road trip, traveling 20,000 miles to a game in all thirty ballparks in thirty days without planes. Blatt’s work has also been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and Deadspin.

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MEG HOWREY READS FROM HER NOVEL THE WANDERERS WITH CHARLES YU

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2017

The Wanderers (G.P. Putnam's Sons)

Brilliantly imagined and wholly original, The Wanderers follows three astronauts as they audition for the first-ever mission to Mars, an experience that will push the boundary between real and unreal, test their relationships, and leave each of them—and their families—changed forever. Inspired by real-life experiments designed to test the psychological and physiological demands of a human mission to Mars, Meg Howrey’s intrinsically-researched, stunning new novel is described best by J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times-bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest, “Ambitious and deeply empathetic, Howrey’s exquisite novel demonstrates that the final frontier may not be space after all.” Readers of Station Eleven, Karen Joy Fowler, and Ruth Ozeki will love this imaginative, witty work of literary fiction and its moving tribute to human relationships that define and support incredible scientific achievement.

In four years, Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars in a wildly ambitious and history-making mission called MarsNOW. Helen Kane, Yoshihiro Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the job by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation of a space mission ever created.

Helen, recently retired from NASA after a decades-long career and three extended missions to space, has not trained for irrelevance. It’s nobody’s fault that the best of her exists only in space, but her daughter can’t help placing blame. This mission is Helen’s last chance to return to the only place she’s ever felt at home. For Yoshi, the mission is an opportunity to prove himself to the high-powered wife he has loved absolutely, if not quite correctly. Sergei is willing to spend seventeen months in a tin can if it means traveling to Mars, ultimately proving his own immense strength and stamina as an example of solidity for his sons.

As the days turn into months aboard the simulated spacecraft, the line between what is real and unreal fractures irreparably, and the astronauts learn that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. As their family members navigate planet Earth thousands of miles away, facing their own greatest fears and achieving incredible personal triumphs, the astronauts grapple with intense loneliness and increasingly prevalent psychological stress. They start to ask themselves the eternal questions that we have all faced: What is life? Who are we? What is the purpose of all this cosmic mayhem? Probing just how well we can ever know ourselves, or hope to know somebody else,

The Wanderers gets at the heart of what it means to be human—even when we’re a million miles from home. Sweeping in both its delicious, witty writing and phenomenal, factual exploration of outer space, Howrey’s meticulously researched yet tender novel puts a uniquely human face on the science behind space exploration, bringing sparks of life to each astronaut and reminding us that in an age of space exploration, the thing we search most desperately for is to find ourselves.

Praise for The Wanderers

"Three astronauts and those who know them best explore the limits of truth and love in Howrey's genre-bending novel...The voices are distinct, each member reviewing and acting on his or her own emotional telemetry with equal parts brilliance and blunder, and the stakes are high, with any heartbeat capable of tipping the scales against the crew's survival...With these believably fragile and idealistic characters at the helm, Howrey's insightful novel will take readers toa place where they too can 'lift their heads and wonder.'"–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Engrossing…Although the contours of a space drama may seem familiar to a 21st-century readership, Howrey, through the poetry of her writing and the richness of her characters, makes it all seem new. A lyrical and subtle space opera"-–Kirkus, Starred Review

The Wanderers…confronts ageless questions of why humans explore, what they are looking for, and what happens when they find it. Evoking the authenticity of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves (2015) with the literary sensitivity of Ann Patchett, Howrey has made the mission-to- Mars motif an exquisite exploration of human space, inner and outer.”-–Booklist

The Wanderers is phenomenal. A transcendent, cross-cultural and cross-planetary journey into the mysteries of space and self, the novel explores the dangers and necessities of venturing away from the familiar and finding home in the unknown. Howrey's expansive vision left me awestruck.” —Ruth Ozeki, New York Times bestselling and Man Booker shortlisted author of A Tale for the Time Being

“An expansive tale of the costs of human ambition, The Wanderers is unquestionably the work of a brilliant writer at the height of her powers. Meticulously researched and magnificently rendered, Howrey’s dazzling novel on humankind’s most ambitious project is, in itself, a work of wondrous skill and ambition, a book about space that’s truly about people, but also about the lonely wonder of true trailblazers, the disparate cast behind a great life, and the compromises that build success. Fiercely inventive and deeply empathetic, Howrey’s exquisite novel demonstrates that the final frontier may not be space after all.”—J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest

The Wanderers is a stealthily brilliant novel. A distinct, shimmering vision of who we are and where we think we want to go. Meg Howrey’s three astronauts and their families seem to embody the whole human race at the signal moment of a growth spurt. They exist, as we do now, at the edge of science fiction, their story propelled by a seriousness and intelligence wrapped in a comic and tender humanity. Meg Howrey delivers this vision in a prose that feels new, sui generis, its own necessary vehicle, with a kind of sleek precision that is at once simple, gorgeous, and profoundly moving.”—Peter Nichols, national bestselling author of The Rocks and A Voyage for Madmen

“Elegant, thoughtful, gorgeously written. A meditation on solitude, connection, aspiration, imagination and reality, which builds effortlessly to moments of immense power and honesty. There are passages near the end of this book that I will never forget.”—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe and Sorry Please Thank You

The Wanderers is a wonderful exploration of space, trust, and what it means to be a conscious creature, finely-tuned and funny from the first page to the last. I loved getting lost in Meg Howrey's off-kilter world of astronauts and their simulated fantasies. She's a writer with an amazing eye for freedom and confinement and the thin line that sometimes lies between the two.”—Jonathan Lee, author of High Dive

Meg Howrey is a former dancer who performed with The Joffrey, Eglevsky Ballet, and City Ballet of Los Angeles. She toured nationally with the Broadway production of Contact, for which she won the Ovation Award in 2001 for best featured actress in a musical. Howrey is the author of two previous novels, Blind Sight and The Cranes Dance, and the coauthor of the bestselling novels City of Dark Magic, and City of Lost Dreams, published under the pen name Magnus Flyte. Her nonfiction has appeared in Vogue and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Charles Yu is the author of three books. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in various publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Wired. He is currently writing for an upcoming HBO show created by Alan Ball, and is also at work on his next novel, The Book of Wishing

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KAYA PRESS PRESENTS KAZIM ALI, HARI ALLURI, AND SPECIAL GUEST ABEER Y. HOQUE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2017

Join us for an evening with authors from Kaya Press, the group of dedicated writers, artists, readers, and lovers of books working together to publish the most challenging, thoughtful, and provocative literature being produced throughout the Asian and Pacific Island diasporas, with special guest Abeer Hoque.

The Secret Room

In Kazim Ali's wildly inventive novel The Secret Room, written as musical score for a string quartet, he asks: How does one create a life of meaning in the face of loneliness and alienation from one’s own family, culture, or even sense of self? During the space of one single day, the lives of four people converge and diverge in ways they themselves may not even measure.

Sonia Chang, a violinist prepares for a concert. Rizwan Syed, a yoga teacher who gives so much to others, makes one last panicked attempt at reconciliation with his own family. Jody Merchant tries to balance a difficult and stressful work-life with a dream she abandoned long ago. Pratap Patel trudges through his life trying to ignore the pain he still feels at old losses.

Just like the real musical quality of a string quartet, these four characters weave in and out of one another's experiences in a raw, fluid song that mimics the hidden lives that exist within us all.

Praise for Kazim Ali

“Here are new organizing principles; to allow ourselves to be organized by music; to be scored. This is a text that suggests not to worry about how to read it. Rather, it extends an invitation to allow the text to happen with us (and/or for us to happen with the text), and this is a Revolutionary Hermeneutics: to open to the experiences of pain and awe. Text as ambient drift we can move through (the same space where healing and magic happens). The way a line divines another, a voice divines a voice, and the emergent conversation, and how this conversation is a hidden music, the music we have been waiting for.”-- Selah Saterstrom, author of Slab and Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics

"Kazim Ali has managed to render into the English language the universal inner voice." -- Lucille Clifton

Kazim Ali's books include five volumes of poetry, The Far Mosque, The Fortieth Day, Bright Felon, Sky Ward, and All One’s Blue: New and Selected Poems; three novels, Quinn’s Passage, The Disappearance of Seth and Wind Instrument; a collection of short stories, Uncle Sharif’s Life in Music, and three collections of essays, Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art and the Architecture of Silence, Fasting for Ramadan and Resident Alien: On Border-crossing and the Undocumented Divine. He has translated books by Sohrab Sepehri, Ananda Devi and Marguerite Duras. He is an associate professor of Comparative Literature and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Oberlin College.

The Flayed City

Hari Alluri is an author who, according to U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, “carries a new, quiet brush of multi-currents, of multi-worlds to paint this holographic life-scape.” In The Flayed City, Alluri gives an intimate look into the lives of city dwellers and immigrants, imagining the souls that reside in “broom-filled nights”, “skyscrapers for buoys”, and under an “aluminum rising sun”. The charged poems in The Flayed City sweep together “an archipelago song” scored by memory and landscape, history and mythology, desire and loss. Driven by what is residual—of displacement, of family, of violent yet delicate masculinity, of undervalued yet imperative work—Alluri's lines quiver with the poet's distinctive rendering of praise and lament steeped with “gravity and blood” where “the smell of ants being born surrounds us” and “city lights form constellations // invented to symbolize war.”

Praise for Hari Alluri

“Hari Alluri is Michaux for our time. Which is to say: he is the poet who is able to find myth in our days of sorrow and displacement, when so many lose homes and identities, Hari Alluri offers a new music. When cities are destroyed by fire, Hari Alluri offers lyric fire that heals the heart, that lets theimagination save us. When there is nothing left to say and the page of our drive to stop the pain is brightly-lit and blank, Hari Alluri brings a few words that sing, brings them by the hand, gives them to us—not just words but images, sparks, from which the fire comes, from which whole villages are alive again. This is the poet to live with."-- Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa 

[Hari Alluri] carries a new, quiet brush of multi-currents, of multi-worlds to paint this holographic life-scape; a most rare set of poems—with jazz beat word lines, long-line wisdom and open space scenes where you can widen your eyes, scrape your hands and rush into colliding worlds. Bravo, many bravos!”

Hari Alluri, who immigrated to Vancouver, Coast Salish territories at age twelve, is the author of Carving Ashes (CiCAC, 2013) and The Promise of Rust (Mouthfeel, 2016). An award-winning poet, educator, and teaching artist, his work appears widely in anthologies, journals and online venues, including Chautauqua, Poemeleon and Split This Rock. He is a founding editor at Locked Horn Press, where he has co-edited two anthologies, Gendered & Written: Forums on Poetics andRead America(s): An Anthology. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University and, along with the Federico Moramarco Poetry International Teaching Prize, he has received VONA/Voices and Las Dos Brujas fellowships and a National Film Board of Canada grant. Hari currently serves as editor of pacific Review in San Diego, Kumeyaay land.

Photo by Cynthia Dewi Oka

Olive Witch (Harper 360)

In the 1970s, Nigeria is flush with oil money, building new universities, and hanging on to old colonial habits.

Abeer Hoque is a Bangladeshi girl growing up in a small sunlit university town where the red clay earth, corporal punishment and running games are facts of life. At thirteen she moves with her family to suburban Pittsburgh and finds herself surrounded by clouded skies and high schoolers who speak in movie quotes and pop culture slang. Finding her place as a young woman in America proves more difficult than she can imagine. Disassociated from her parents and laid low by academic pressure and a spiraling depression, she is committed to a psychiatric ward in Philadelphia. When she moves to Bangladesh on her own, it proves yet another beginning for someone who is only just getting used to being an outsider – wherever she is.

Arresting and beautifully written, with poems and weather conditions framing each chapter, Olive Witch is an intimate memoir about taking the long way home.

Praise for Abeer Y. Hoque

“Told with vivid lyricism yet unflinching in its gaze, Abeer Hoque's memoir is the coming-of-age story of migration on three continents, and about the pain, rupture, and redemptive possibilities of displacement.”
--Tahmima Anam, author of The Bones of Grace

"An unflinching yet luminously beautiful take on family, race, sex and the treachery of memory. Don’t be fooled by the frangipani beauty of Abeer Hoque’s prose. Its razor-sharp edges can draw blood."--Sandip Roy, author of Don't Let Him Know

Abeer Y. Hoque is a Bangladeshi-American writer and photographer. Her first book of fiction, The Lovers and the Leavers, was published by HarperCollins to critical acclaim. She also has a book of travel photographs and poems, The Long Way Home. She lives in New York City. 

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PATTY YUMI COTTRELL DISCUSSES HER NEW BOOK SORRY TO DISRUPT THE PEACE WITH AMINA CAIN

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2017

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace (McSweeney's Books)

Helen Moran is thirty-two years old, single, child-less, college-educated, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. She’s accepting a delivery from IKEA in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news: Helen’s adoptive brother is dead.

According to the internet, there are six possible reasons why her brother might have killed himself. But Helen knows better: she knows that six reasons is only shorthand for the abyss. Helen also knows that she alone is qualified to launch a serious investigation into his death, so she purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. There, as she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counselor, Chad Lambo; she may also discover what it truly means to be alive.

A bleakly comic tour de force that’s by turns poignant, uproariously funny, and viscerally unsettling, this debut novel has shades of Bernhard, Beckett, and Bowles—and it announces the singular voice of Patty Yumi Cottrell.

Paise for Sorry to Disrupt the Peace

“Grief takes an unnerving path through a singular mind in Sorry to Disrupt the Peace. Beckett fans will find a familiar, but Patty Yumi Cottrell’s voice is her very own.”—Amelia Gray

“Patty Yumi Cottrell’s prose does so many of my favorite things—some too subtle to talk about without spoiling, but one thing I have to mention is the way in which her heroine’s investigation of a suicide draws the reader right into the heart of this wonderfully spiky hedgehog of a book and then elbows us yet further along  intowhat is ultimately a tremendously moving act of imagination.”—Helen Oyeyemi, author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

“Patty Yumi Cottrell’s adoption of the rambling and specific absurd will and must delight. This is a graceful claim not just about writing but about a way of being in the world, an always new and necessary way to contend with this garbage that surrounds us, these false portraits of our hearts and minds. This book is not a diversion—it’s a lifeline.”—Jesse Ball, author of How to Set a Fire and Why

“Intelligent and mysterious and funny, Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace moves so mesmerizingly towards its blazingly good ending. One is tempted to read it as quickly as possible. But really, it is a book that should be read slowly, as some of its deepest pleasures lie in the careful observations, the witty prose, and just the book’s really wonderful gaze on city life, and actually, on all life. This is a stunning debut.”—Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace had me opening my mouth to laugh only to feel sobs come tumbling out. It’s absurd, feeling so much at once, but it’s a distinctly human absurdity that Patty Yumi Cottrell has masterfully created in this book. In the end I felt ebullient and spent, grateful to be reminded that life is only funny and gorgeous because life is also strange and sad.”—Lindsay Hunter, author of Ugly Girls

“‘Behind every suicide, there is a door.’ So says Helen, aka Sister Reliability, aka ‘spinster from a book,’ who is determined to open the door behind her adoptive brother’s recent death. Her search takes her from a studio apartment in NYC to a childhood home in Milwaukee, and yet thein vestigation is as philosophical as it is practical, as was, perhaps, the death itself. Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is a beguiling debut: absurdly funny, surprisingly beautiful, and ultimately sad as fuck.”—Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First

“In this completely absorbing novel of devastation and estrangement, Patty Yumi Cottrell introduces herself as a modern Robert Walser. Her voice is unflinching, unforgettable, and animated with a restless sense of humor.”—Catherine Lacey, author of Nobody Is Ever Missing

Patty Yumi Cottrell was born in South Korea and grew up in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in BOMB, Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, and other publications. She lives and works in Los Angeles. This is her first novel.

Amina Cain is the author of the short story collection Creature, out with Dorothy, a Publishing Project, and a novel-in-progress, The Energy of Vitória. Her stories and essays have appeared in BOMBn+1The Paris Review Daily, and Full Stop, among other places.

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LAMBDA LITFEST PRESENTS INDIE VOICES FROM INDIE PRESSES

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2017

Los Angeles-based authors Alex Espinoza, Dan Lopez, Wendy C. Ortiz, and Martin Pousson discuss the ways they found homes for their unique voices and the independent literary communities that champion them, from publishers to bookstores and publications, in LA and beyond.

Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico. He came to the United States with his family at the age of two and grew up in suburban Los Angeles. Author of the novel Still Water Saints, he received an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. A recipient of the Margaret Bridgman Fellowship in Fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Espinoza is currently an associate professor of English at California State University, Fresno. His latest book is The Five Acts of Diego Léon.

Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir and Hollywood Notebook. Her work has been profiled or featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Rumpus, and the National Book Critics Circle Small Press Spotlight blog. Her writing has appeared in such places as The New York Times, Hazlitt, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Nervous Breakdown, Fanzine, and a year-long series appeared at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Wendy lives in Los Angeles.

Martin Pousson was born and raised in the bayou land of Louisiana. His short stories won a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and have appeared in The Antioch Review, Epoch, Five Points, StoryQuarterly, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. He also was a finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award, the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award, and the Lambda Literary Award. He now lives in Los Angeles.

Dan Lopez's work has appeared in The Millions, StorychordTime Out New York, and Lambda Literary, among others. The Show House is his first novel. He lives in Los Angeles. 

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DAN CHAON READS FROM HIS NOVEL ILL WILL

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 31st, 2017

ILL WILL (Ballentine Books)

Have you ever thought to yourself, “did that really happen, or did I just imagine that to be true?” In Ill Will Dan Chaon explores two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—both linked by one man’s memory and self-deception. A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he learns that his adopted brother, Rusty who received a life sentence for murdering Dustin’s parents, aunt and uncle, is being released from prison after thirty years. Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

Chaon is fascinated by urban legends and conspiracy theories. He writes, “The interesting thing for me was not knowing what was going to happen in this book. The characters became more slippery as I got to know them. The blanket of paranoia over the book extended to the whole writing process and these characters began to unnerve me.”

Ill Will is a page-turning thriller about the failures of memory, the collapse of family and the perils of self-deception.

Praise for Ill Will 

“For this exceptional and emotionally wrenching novel, Chaon plants the seeds of new manias into the hard, unforgiving ground that will be familiar to his readers… With impressive skill, across multiple narratives that twine, fracture, and rest, Chaon expertly realizes his singular vision of American Dread.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A dark genre-bending thriller . . . Chaon has mastered multiple psychologically complex and often fearsome characters. A shadowy narrative that's carried well by the author's command and insight.”–Kirkus (starred review)

“Lauded literary author Chaon tackles the thriller genre, with this tale of a psychologist whose adopted brother is released from prison. Ideally, this will be the rare read that is all pleasure, no guilt.”—New York Magazine, “The Anticipation Index”

“Chaon has created another of those twilight realms of which he is an indisputable master. The book’s characters plumb the depths of deception and surpass all established measures of instability and dysfunction. . . . If the definition of eeriness is indeed ‘strange, suspicious, and unnatural,’ the definers of the genre (Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, etc.) have a worthy heir in Dan Chaon.”–Booklist

“Dan Chaon was already a master of the short story well before he wrote his tense and delightfully twisted thriller, Await Your ReplyIll Will finds Chaon back in thriller territory, with an even more propulsive narrative. It’s one of those books that looks big and heavy, but with pacing so tight it will likely only take a couple of days to read.”–Vulture, “25 of the Most Anticipated Book Releases for 2017”

Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Stay Awake, Await Your Reply, You Remind Me of Me, Fitting Ends, and Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Chaon’s short stories have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon teaches creative writing at Oberlin College.

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AMY GOODMAN DISCUSSES HER BOOK DEMOCRACY NOW! WITH CO-AUTHOR DENIS MOYNIHAN

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 31st, 2017

Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America (Simon & Schuster) 

From the standoff at Standing Rock over the Dakota Access Pipeline, to the voices of grassroots leaders; from Black Lives Matter activists to the stories of those fighting for peace, climate justice, migrant rights, and LGBTQ equality; from uncovering government surveillance to fighting attacks on freedom of the press, Democracy Now! has been reporting for two decades from the front lines of the movements that are changing America and changing the world. 

In these times of war and elections, movements and uprisings, we need independent media more than ever. The commercial media serves as a mouthpiece for corporate and government interests--giving a platform to the pundits and the pollsters who know so little about so much, explaining the world to us and getting it so wrong.

Free speech is democracy’s last line of defense. We must demand it, defend it, and most of all, use it--now.

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now! a daily, global grassroots news hour, broadcasting on over 1,400 public television and radio stations around the U.S. and the world, with millions accessing it online at democracynow.org. An acclaimed international journalist, she has won the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. Goodman is also the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from Harvard’s Nieman Foundation of Journalism, the George Polk Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award. This is her sixth New York Times bestselling book.

Denis Moynihan has been working with Democracy Now! since 2000. He is a bestselling author and a King Features syndicated columnist. He lives in Colorado, where he founded community radio station KFFR.

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PETE BEGLER READS HIS MIDDLE READER BOOK THE FEARLESS TRAVELERS’ GUIDE TO WICKED PLACES

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 31st, 2017

The Fearless Travelers' Guide to Wicked Places (Capstone Young Readers)

Twelve-year-old Nell Perkins knows there is magic at work that she can't yet understand. Her mother has been taken by witches and turned into a bird. Nell must journey to get her mother back, even if it takes her deep into the Wicked Places the frightening and dangerous realm where Nightmares resides. There Nell somehow must break the spell and stop the witches from turning our world into a living nightmare.

Praise for The Fearless Travelers’ Guide To Wicked Places

"This magical book is as dark as a Tim Burton film -a land of walking skeletons, rains of knife blades, encounters with slave-driving clowns, and more-but there is great power (and some successful humor) in creating a world so entirely original. Bursts of modernity startle and shake the otherwise fantastical tone of the piece, and the eponymous handbook plays less of a role than perhaps it should-yet, still, this is a gripping, surreal, and utterly delightful adventure that pairs the unsettling, off-kilter wonkiness of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl with the zinging imagination of L. Frank Baum." - Booklist Starred Review

"An insecure young girl's quest for her missing mother leads her to Dreamlands, a parallel world of incredible dreams, dark nightmares, and dangerous deceptions . . .Throughout the relentlessly paced, endlessly twisting plot, remarkable Nell emerges a fearless traveler; in her own right . . . A wildly imaginative, richly textured, and complex fantasy." - Kirkus Reviews

"A triumph of world building that combines familiar fantasy elements in surprising ways. . . .[Begler] successfully balances the cozy anthropomorphism of a Narnia-type land with the borderline horror of Neil Gaiman or Stephen King. The vividness of this imaginary world would undoubtedly lend itself well to a big-screen adaptation.--Foreword Reviews

Pete Begler lives in Silverlake with his wife and two daughters and writes for television including the Hulu drama Chance

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RAMESH SRINIVASAN DISCUSSES HIS BOOK WHOSE GLOBAL VILLAGE? WITH RIGO 23

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 14th, 2017

Whose Global Village: Rethinking How Technology Shapes Our World (NYU Press)

In Whose Global Village?, Ramesh Srinivasan explores how new technologies often reinforce the inequalities of globalization because developers rarely take into account communities outside the Western world. By sharing stories of collaboration with Native Americans in California and New Mexico, revolutionaries in Egypt, and villages in rural India, Srinivasan urge us to re-imagine social media, the Internet, and even mobile phones from the perspective of these diverse cultures.  

Praise for Whose Global Village? 

“The 2016 election showed us what happens when technologies like Facebook, that are supposed to connect us, actually leave us in bubbles and oblivious to the world that doesn’t agree with us. Whose Global Village?shows that another technology is possible, and in fact exists, through examples across the world that are all about furthering cultural voices and conversations.” --The Yes Men

“In the age of video streaming and the internet, indigenous peoples can fight for their rights as we see with the Dakota Pipeline and across the world today. Whose Global Village? points the way forward to a digital world that recognizes the dignity and voices of indigenous peoples.”--Winona La Duke,  Executive Director of Honor the Earth

“Upstart successes like The Young Turks are becoming less common, partially as a result of the increasing corporatization and monopolization of social media. Whose Global Village? offers an alternate path, out of the self-selected echo chambers that marginalize non-western and indigenous voices, and into a future where new technology operates in greater harmony with grassroots concerns and culturally diverse populations across the world.”--Cenk Uygar,  Founder of The Young Turks

Ramesh Srinivasan isthe Director of the Digital Cultures Lab and Associate Professor of Information Studies and Design and Media Arts at UCLA. His work has been featured by Al JazeeraThe Washington PostThe Young Turks, National Public Radio, and The Huffington Post.  

Rigo 23 is an artist living in Los Angeles and working globally. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at REDCAT and Fowler Museum in Los Angeles; the New Museum and Artists Space, in New York City and Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Rio de Janeiro in Brasil. His work has been included in the First Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India; 2nd Aichi Triennial in Japan; 3rd Shenzhen Hong-Kong Bi-City Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture, in China; 5th Auckland Triennial in New Zealand; 10th Lyon Biennale in France; the 2006 Liverpool Biennial in the UK, and the 2004 California Biennial, among others.

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SARAH MANGUSO DISCUSSES HER NEW BOOK 300 ARGUMENTS WITH ETHAN NOSOWSK

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 14th, 2017

300 Arguments (Graywolf Press)

A “Proustian minimalist on the order of Lydia Davis” (Kirkus Reviews), Sarah Manguso is one of the finest literary artists at work today. To read her work is to witness acrobatic acts ofcompression in the service of extraordinary psychological and spiritual insight.

300 Arguments, a foray into the frontier of contemporary nonfiction writing, is at first glance a group of unrelated aphorisms. But, as in the work of David Markson, the pieces reveal themselves as a masterful arrangement that steadily gathers power. Manguso’s arguments about desire, ambition, relationships, and failure are pithy, unsentimental, and defiant, and they add up to an unexpected and wise piece of literature.

Praise for 300 Arguments

“A writer's life, solitary and complex, broken apart—not into shards but puzzle pieces. . . . A slim, poetic self-portrait that opens up as you read it and stays in the mind.”—Kirkus Reviews

300 Arguments shook me. It’s dark, but the darkness comes from a refusal to look away. Its humor is wounded but present. Is it possibly a sort of novel? The writer says somewhere, ‘This book is the good sentences from the novel I didn’t write.’ The idea holds up when applied, and the attentive reader will intuit an encompassing narrative. Sarah Manguso deserves many such readers.”—JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVAN

“A new book by Sarah Manguso is always a cause for celebration. She is a poet-philosopher of the highest order who combines a laser-sharp intellect with a lyric gift and a capacious, generous heart. She is one of my favorite writers, and with 300 Arguments she deepens her inquiry into the very essence of what it is to be human.”—DANI SHAPIRO

Sarah Manguso is the author of three book-length essays, Ongoingness, The Guardians, and The Two Kinds of Decay; a story collection; and two poetry collections. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she teaches at St. Mary’s College.

Ethan Nosowsky is Editorial Director at Graywolf Press. He began his career at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and has also been Editorial Director at McSweeney’s. He has edited books by Jeffery Renard Allen, Hilton Als, Kevin Barry, David Byrne, Vikram Chandra, Geoff Dyer, Dave Eggers, Sarah Manguso, Maggie Nelson, and Jenny Offill among many others. He lives in Oakland, California.

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EMILY FRIDLUND READS FROM HER DEBUT NOVEL HISTORY OF WOLVES

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 14th, 2017

History of Wolves (Grove Atlantic)

History of Wolves is the story of fourteen-year- old Linda, who lives with her parents in an abandoned commune in the icy woods of Northern Minnesota. Isolated at home and at school, Linda finds unusual company in her beautiful classmate, Lily, and her charismatic History teacher, Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is accused of possessing child pornography, Linda’s world shifts dramatically. Things seem to look up when the Gardner family moves in across the lake. Linda is welcomed into their home as their son, Paul’s, babysitter. However, this sense of belonging, and her newfound feelings of purpose come at an unexpected price—Linda is drawn into secrets that she doesn’t understand and is eventually forced to make decisions that will affect her entire life.

Praise for History of Wolves

“[A] stellar debut . . . A sense of foreboding subtly permeates the story . . . [the] wordsmithing is fantastic, rife with vivid turns of phrase. Fridlund has elegantly crafted a striking protagonist whose dark leanings cap off the tragedy at the heart of this book, which is moving and disturbing, and which will stay with the reader.”—Publishers Weekly (starred boxed review) 

“An atmospheric, near-gothic coming-of-age novel turns on the dance between predator and prey . . . Fridlund is an assured writer . . . The novel has a tinge of fairy tale, wavering on the blur between good and evil, thought and action. But the sharp consequences for its characters make it singe and sing—a literary tour de force.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

“The writing is beautiful . . . a triumph of tone and attitude. Lovers of character-driven literary fiction will embrace this.”—Booklist (starred review)

“First thing you see is the bracing intelligence of the book’s young narrator – no big-eyed sentiments for Linda, raised amid blighted ideals in the ceaseless winters and vast swamps of northern Minnesota. So observant is Linda that you trust her instantly, but it’s her own search for trust, for connection even at enormous cost, that will hold you to the final hour. Emily Fridlund’s language is generous and precise, her story grief-tempered and forcefully moving. History of Wolves is the loneliest thing I’ve read in years, and it’s gorgeous. These are haunted pages.” —Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River

“As exquisite a first novel as I’ve ever encountered. Poetic, complex, and utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful.”—T. C. Boyle

“So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides! I’m so excited for readers to encounter the talent and roiling intelligence of Emily Fridlund.”—Aimee Bender

Emily Fridlund grew up in Minnesota and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her fiction has appeared in a variety of journals, including Boston Review, Zyzzyva, FiveChapters, New Orleans Review, Sou'wester, New Delta Review, Chariton Review, Portland Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. The opening chapter of History Wolves won the 2013 McGinnis-Ritchie Award for fiction, and Fridlund's collection of stories, Catapult, won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and will be published by Sarabande in the fall of 2017.

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