Archive for literature

Chris Cander, “THE WEIGHT OF A PIANO”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, novels by skylightbooks on March 13th, 2019

In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Blüthner piano, built at the turn of the century in Germany, on which she discovers everything that she herself can do with music and what music, in turn, does for her. Yet after marrying, she emigrates with her young family from Russia to America, at her husband's frantic insistence, and her piano is lost in the shuffle.

In 2012, in Bakersfield, California, twenty-six-year-old Clara Lundy loses another boyfriend and again has to find a new apartment, which is complicated by the gift her father had given her for her twelfth birthday, shortly before he and her mother died in a fire that burned their house down: a Blüthner upright she has never learned to play. Orphaned, she was raised by her aunt and uncle, who in his car-repair shop trained her to become a first-rate mechanic, much to the surprise of her subsequent customers. But this work, her true mainstay in a scattered life, is put on hold when her hand gets broken while the piano's being moved--and in sudden frustration she chooses to sell it. And what becomes crucial is who the most interested party turns out to be...

 




UC Irvine MFA Student Reading

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, poetry, fiction, Short Stories, nonfiction, anthology by skylightbooks on March 11th, 2019

Please join us for an evening with UC Irvine MFA students Mason BoylesJustine YanKatherine Damm, and Daniel Levin as they read from their work. 




Marlon James, “BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on March 7th, 2019

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: "He has a nose," people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.

As Tracker follows the boy's scent--from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers--he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?

Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that's come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that's also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both.




Nikki Darling, “FADE INTO YOU”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on February 26th, 2019

In this debut work of autofiction, high school junior Nikki Darling roams the uncanny suburban sprawl of the San Gabriel Valley. Nikki is ambivalent about her grades and even about showing up for class, instead flitting between a series of irresponsible and nominally illegal adolescent experiences. Left to her own devices by absent parents, she flings herself into punk music and counterculture, hoping to evade the intergenerational silence passed down through the women in her family. Fade Into You is a poignant reminder of how it feels to be a young girl both trapped and set free by looming future expectations, and a tribute to the discomfort and joy of growing up in the in-between—between Mexican and white, earnest and unruly, street smart and vulnerable.




Johannes Lichtman, “SUCH GOOD WORK”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on February 25th, 2019

The year is 2015. Jonas might be an excellent teacher if he weren’t addicted to drugs. Instead, at age twenty-eight, he’s been fired from yet another creative writing position after assigning homework like, visit a stranger’s funeral and write about it. Jonas needs to do something drastic and, as a dual American-Swedish citizen, he knows Sweden is an easy place to be a graduate student—and a difficult place to be a drug addict.

He goes to Malmö, a city trying to cope with the arrival of tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees. Driven by an existential need to “do good,” Jonas volunteers with an organization that teaches Swedish to the desperate and idling young refugees. But a friendship with one young refugee, Aziz, will force Jonas to question whether “doing good” can actually help another person.

A resplendent work of autofiction, Johannes Lichtman's Such Good Work uses dark humor and pathos to consider the complexity of being a good person in our modern world, as well as the effects of nationalism and identity politics in a time when conversations around migrant policies are vital and omnipresent.




Brontez Purnell, “THE NIGHTLIFE OF JACUZZI GASKET” w/ Beth Pickens

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Children's Fiction, fiction by skylightbooks on February 22nd, 2019

Whiting Award-winning author Brontez Purnell’s first children’s book tells the story of a child charged with caring for his baby brother when his mom is out at night.

In The Nightlife of Jacuzzi Gaskett, 11-year-old Jacuzzi is an introspective and imaginative child who loves taking care of his 11-month-old baby brother. When their mom goes out for a date with her boyfriend, he watches his sibling and entertains himself. Readers are taken inside Jacuzzi Gaskett’s precocious mind, where he thinks about the classmates who don’t get him, all the books that have taken him to faraway places, and “sometimes misses his dad.”

Purnell is in conversation with Beth Pickens, an artist, writer, and mother living in Brooklyn.




Michelle Tea,

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Y/A, Young Adult, fiction by skylightbooks on February 21st, 2019

When Sophie Swankowski surfaces from the freezing waters in Michelle Tea's Castle on the River Vistula, she finds herself in an ancient castle in Poland—and in the center of an ages-old battle. Even with her magic powers, the strength and wisdom she learns from her companions in Warsaw, and the help of her gruff mermaid guardian, Syrena, how can one thirteen-year-old from scrappy Chelsea Massachusetts, really save the world?

Luckily, Sophie won’t be alone. As she connects to other girls around the globe who have been training, just like her, for this very fight, she begins to think she just may become the hero she’s meant to be. But when she has to face the pure source of evil alone, using all the strength she has to keep it from destroying everything, how easy it would be to simply give up and join the other side...

Tea is in discussion with actor, writer, and comic Brendan Scannell.




Sam Lipsyte, “HARK”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on February 19th, 2019

In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental collapse, and spiritual confusion, many folks are searching for peace, salvation, and—perhaps most immediately—just a little damn focus. Enter Hark Morner, an unwitting guru whose technique of “Mental Archery”—a combination of mindfulness, mythology, fake history, yoga, and, well, archery—is set to captivate the masses and raise him to near-messiah status. It’s a role he never asked for, and one he is woefully underprepared to take on. But his inner-circle of modern pilgrims have other plans, as do some suddenly powerful fringe players, including a renegade Ivy League ethicist, a gentle Swedish kidnapper, a crossbow-hunting veteran of jungle drug wars, a social media tycoon with an empire on the skids, and a mysteriously influential (but undeniably slimy) catfish.

In this social satire of the highest order, Sam Lipsyte, the New York Times bestseller and master of the form, reaches new peaks of daring in a novel that revels in contemporary absurdity and the wild poetry of everyday language while exploring the emotional truths of his characters. Hark is a smart, incisive look at men, women, and children seeking meaning and dignity in a chaotic, ridiculous, and often dangerous world.




Madhuri Vijay, “THE FAR FIELD”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on February 18th, 2019

An elegant, epic debut from a tremendous new talent and Pushcart Prize-winner, Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field follows one young woman’s search for a lost figure from her childhood, a journey that carries her from cosmopolitan Bangalore in Southern India to the mountains of Kashmir and to the brink of a devastating political and personal reckoning. 

In the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to confront him. But as soon as Shalini arrives, she is brought face to face with Kashmir’s dark politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in. And when life in the village turns volatile and old hatreds threaten to erupt into violence, Shalini finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love.

With rare acumen and evocative prose, Vijay masterfully examines Indian politics, class prejudice, and sexuality through the lens of an outsider, offering a profound meditation on grief, guilt, and the limits of compassion.




Ingrid Rojas Contreras, “FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE” w/ Lilliam Rivera

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on January 25th, 2019

Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to their gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation. 

When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city's guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona's mysterious ways. But Petrona's unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls' families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal. 

Inspired by the author's own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricably linked coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Ingrid Rojas Contreras has written a powerful testament to the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation.

Rojas Contreras is in conversation with Lilliam Rivera, an award-winning writer and author of The Education of Margot Sanchez and the upcoming YA novel Dealing in Dreams.




Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, “SKETCHTASY”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, LGBTQ by skylightbooks on January 22nd, 2019

Sketchtasy takes place in that late-night moment when everything comes together, and everything falls apart: it's an urgent, glittering, devastating novel about the perils of queer world-making in the mid-'90s.

This is Boston in 1995, a city defined by a rabid fear of difference. Alexa, an incisive twenty-one-year-old queen, faces everyday brutality with determined nonchalance. Rejecting middle-class pretensions, she negotiates past and present traumas with a scathing critique of the world. Drawn to the ecstasy of drugged-out escapades, Alexa searches for nourishment in a gay culture bonded by clubs and conformity, willful apathy, and the spectre of AIDS. Is there any hope for communal care?

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore brings 1990s gay culture startlingly back to life, as Alexa and her friends grapple with the impact of growing up at a time when desire and death are intertwined. With an intoxicating voice and unruly cadence, this is a shattering, incandescent novel that conjures the pain and pageantry of struggling to imagine a future.




Wayétu Moore, “SHE WOULD BE KING” w/ Allison Noelle Conner

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on November 23rd, 2018

In She Would Be King, Wayétu Moore reimagines the dramatic story of the formation of Liberia through the eyes of three unforgettable characters. Gbessa, exiled on suspicion of being a witch from the West African village of Lai, is bitten by a viper and left for dead, but miraculously survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon is the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, and can fade from sight at will, just as his mother could. When they meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes. Their storylines are brilliantly intertwined by the all-seeing spirit of the wind, who embodies an ancient wisdom.

A spectacular blend of history and magical realism, She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a rich, unexpected canvas. Moore illuminates with radiant prose the tumultuous roots of a unique African country—one whose history is inextricably bound to the United States.

Moore is in conversation with Allison Noelle Conner, whose writing has appeared in BitchJacket2The Rumpus, and elsewhere.




Tracy Daugherty, “LEAVING THE GAY PLACE”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on November 6th, 2018

Leaving the Gay Place tells a sweeping story of American popular culture and politics through the life and work of a writer who tragically exemplifies the highs and lows of the country at mid-century. Tracy Daugherty follows Brammer from the halls of power in Washington, DC, where he worked for Senate majority leader Johnson, to rock-and-roll venues where he tripped out with Janis Joplin, and ultimately to back alleys of self-indulgence and self-destruction. Constantly driven to experiment with new ways of being and creating—often fueled by psychedelics—Brammer became a cult figure for an America on the cusp of monumental change, as the counterculture percolated through the Eisenhower years and burst out in the sixties. In Daugherty’s masterful recounting, Brammer’s story is a quintessential American story, and Billy Lee is our wayward American son.




Micah Perks, “TRUE LOVE AND OTHER DREAMS OF MIRACULOUS ESCAPE” w/ Ben Loory

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, Short Stories by skylightbooks on November 5th, 2018

Magical and funny, profound and seductive, the linked stories in True Love and Other Dreams of Miraculous Escape explore the life-bending power of love. In these interwoven lives, ardent desire meets a keen sense of reality deep in the heart of progressive California. When Sadie opens a funky bookstore in Santa Cruz, she is swept off her feet by Daniel, a true-blue romantic—athletic, bookish, from Santiago, Chile. Their connection is heady and erotic, and it echoes through the love lives around them: from Harry Houdini’s first encounter with the widow Winchester to the threatening intimacy between a wife and her brother to a grumpy teenager who inspires her divorced parents. Years later, when Sadie and Daniel take an overdue trip to Paris, their blended family doesn't blend so well, sending them back to rediscover their roots. In these interconnected lives, the desire for passion is as strong as the desire to escape, and the terror of claustrophobic connection competes with the deepest human yearning. An intoxicating look at the complexity and simplicity of embracing and running from love. By the award-winning author of What Becomes UsMicah Perks.

Perks is in conversation with Ben Loory, author of the collections Tales of Falling and Flying and Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day.




Nick Zinner/Zachary Lipez/Stacy Wakefield, “131 DIFFERENT THINGS”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, photography by skylightbooks on November 1st, 2018

When Sam, a bartender in New York, hears that his ex, Vicki, his one true love, has quit AA and is out drinking again, he embarks on a quest to find her. Sam and his sidekick Francis trek from dive bars to gay bars to rocker bars—encountering skinheads, party promoters, underage drug dealers, and dominatrixes—but they are always one step behind Vicki. It begins to seem like 131 Different Things are keeping the lovers apart. Before the night is over, Sam will have to wrestle with what he is really looking for.

Nick Zinner—who plays guitar in the three-time Grammy-nominated band Yeah Yeah Yeahs—provides the visual framework for this inventive novella with his intimate photography. Known for his essays and music writing for Noisey, Vice, and Penthouse, Zachary Lipez brings his pithy, multilayered, and self-deprecating voice to this debut work of fiction. The prose and photography are tied together in a playful taxonomic scheme by editor and art director Stacy Wakefield, the author of the novel The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory. The three artists have collaborated on four previous books, most recently Please Take Me Off the Guest List.





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