We hope you’re enjoying our August California Book Club selection, Rabih Alameddine’s dazzlingly original sixth novel, The Wrong End of the Telescope. In case you’re finished with the novel and looking for another book or two to close out your summer reading, here are four past CBC authors on what they’re reading now. Two of the authors have new, brilliant books out, so be sure to take a look at those, too.
Author Reyna Grande Recommends
Grande’s vivid memoir The Distance Between Us was featured in the November 2020 CBC gathering. Her latest novel, A Ballad of Love & Glory, is coming out in paperback with a new beautiful and haunting cover in January. She wrote to us, “For readers who enjoyed The Distance Between Us, I recommend Illegally Yours, by Rafael Agustin. In this poignant memoir, Agustin welcomes us into his life, his home, and his heart. Fluctuating between witty humor and tender vulnerability, he shows us how he became the amazing human being that he is today. This book is equal parts an act of rebellion and an act of celebration—rebellion against those who think immigrants are voiceless and a celebration of the resilience of the immigrant spirit.”
Author Héctor Tobar Recommends
Tobar, author of the December 2021 CBC selection, The Barbarian Nurseries, a novel rich in perspectives of Los Angeles, told us: “I’m currently reading Maud Casey’s novel City of Incurable Women. It’s an amazing book and tells the true story of the women confined to a sprawling, city-size mental hospital in France in the 19th century after having been diagnosed with ‘hysteria.’”
Author Elaine Castillo Recommends
Castillo, the author of the vibrant January 2021 CBC pick, America Is Not the Heart, has a new book of essays out, How to Read Now, that is gathering buzz and critical acclaim. She recommended a few titles to add to your to-read stack: “Some recent faves: (1) Osage writer Chelsea T. Hicks’s debut collection of short stories, A Calm and Normal Heart, which is full of sharp, funny, ambivalent, offbeat, heartbreaking stories that make me (a constitutionally long-form person) remain in awe of people who can do short form with such verve. (2) A book I read back when I was on my book tour in New Zealand in 2019, after doing an event with the author, Tayi Tibble—her collection Poukahangatus, which has now come out in the States with Knopf, is mordantly funny and often devastating, on everything from the settler colonial afterlife of New Zealand to the conflicted feeling of seeing Indigenous actresses play disposable characters in Game of Thrones. A section from one of my fave poems is an epigraph to an essay in my new collection, How to Read Now. Finally, (3) I started Jamil Jan Kochai’s new collection, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak, and loved the first short story, which wondrously threads together playing the video game Metal Gear and an Afghan family’s war trauma. A hit in the gut to me, especially as a fledgling gamer with not a small amount of family war trauma.”
Author Myriam Gurba Recommends
Gurba is the author of our April 2021 CBC pick, Mean, a groundbreaking memoir. She made the following recommendation of a Bay Area author’s book: “I’m reading Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s The Man Who Could Move Clouds. It’s a brilliant memoir that takes the reader into the world of curanderes Colombianes.”•
Join us on August 18 at 5 p.m. Pacific time, when Alameddine will appear in conversation with CBC host John Freeman and a special guest. Until then, visit the Alta Clubhouse to let us and your fellow California Book Club members know your thoughts on The Wrong End of the Telescope. Register here.
WHY READ THIS
Ulin reviews Thomas Mann’s Los Angeles: Stories from Exile 1940–1952, which illuminates the author’s experience in California. —Alta
Here are 14 upcoming books by authors of the West we’re excited about. —Alta
HOW TO READ NOW
Alta contributing editor and author Gustavo Arellano sits down with acclaimed writer-activist Mike Davis (City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles), who has terminal cancer. —Los Angeles Times
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