books

Monroe County Public Library

The Monroe County Public Library system is celebrating its 60th birthday this month. But the Key West library calls itself South Florida's oldest, dating back to the 1800s. 

Illustrator: Anuj Shrestha / Topos Graphics / Publisher Jai Alai Books

South Florida consistently ranks among the worst metropolitan areas nationwide for traffic and congestion. On average, Miamians spend 100 hours a year stuck in gridlock. And as our public transportation system consistently has issues with reliability and usage, we all know how difficult it can be to get around here. 

Take a quick scan of the 16 nominees for next year's Aspen Words Literary Prize, and you're likely to find that their dust jackets boast the stuff of international headlines. And that's the point: The annual award, which revealed its longlist Thursday, is intended to honor fiction that doesn't shy from the weightiest, thorniest of social issues today.

(You can jump to the full list by heading to Aspen's website or clicking here.)

Graphic by Alejandra Martinez

In a short story by Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat a man sees his life flash before his eyes as he falls 500 feet from the sky. 

"It's a story that is meant to be compressed in those seconds that he's falling," says Danticat on Sundial.  There's a list of thoughts that goes through the man's mind: love, loss and regret. And the burning image of his son.

Simon and Schuster

Horns and feathers sprout out of Charlie Hernández one day. He’s attending Ponce de Leon Middle School in Miami and he’s busy looking for his parents who have disappeared.

Charlie teams up with his lifelong crush, Violet Rey, and they embark on a supernatural journey, encountering monsters and spirits who populate Hispanic folklore, myths and legends. Charlie draws on the stories that he heard from his abuela to figure out his strange physical manifestations and to ultimately save his parents.

Are there any words or phrases you really wish people would stop using to describe women chefs (or really, women, period)?

Charlotte Druckman put this question to more than 100 female chefs and food writers for her book Women on Food, a compendium that corrals a range of voices from marquee names such as Nigella Lawson and Rachael Ray, to the pioneering 92-year-old writer Betty Fussell, who still gets into the van at her retirement home in Santa Barbara, Calif., to buy raw cream and nectarines at the farmers market.

As a black gay kid growing up in Texas in the 1990s, poet Saeed Jones remembers getting negative messages about his identity from every aspect of his life. It was around the time of Matthew Shepard's murder in Wyoming, and Jones felt alone and unsafe.

"I was seeing these cautionary tales connected to identity," he says. "It was so clear that it was perilous to be a black gay boy in America."

Theresa Hogue / Wikimedia Commons

Few writers have shifted political discourse in recent years quite as much as Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

Natalie Eve Garrett isn't sure exactly which shelf at a bookstore her new book would belong on. She says it "probably wouldn't be at home among cookbooks," although it does contain recipes. Maybe memoir? Self-help? Literary essays?

With her sixth novel, Jami Attenberg, best known for The Middlesteins (2004), secures her place as an oddly sparkling master of warped family sagas. All This Could Be Yours, mostly set on a single, stifling August day in New Orleans following the heart attack of 73-year-old Victor Tuchman, is an autopsy of the considerable, lasting damage this toxic man has inflicted on his family.

Graphic by Alejandra Martinez

In Miami during the '90s, when kids would "quote their favorite television shows like the Simpsons," Haitian-American authors and sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite say they did not watch television — instead finding themselves uncovering different worlds and characters at the library. 

Updated at 8:19 a.m. ET

In an unusual move, the Swedish Academy doled out Nobel Prizes in literature to two authors on Thursday: Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, who won the postponed 2018 award, and Austrian author Peter Handke, who won the prize for this year. The academy's permanent secretary, Mats Malm, announced the winners at a press briefing in Stockholm.

Just 25 books can still be called contenders for the 2019 National Book Awards.

The National Book Foundation on Tuesday unveiled the finalists, listing five books each in five categories. And while there are some readily recognizable names among the remaining authors — some with past shortlist appearances and other literary prizes already under their belt — none of them has taken home a National Book Award in these categories before.

Rachel Maddow didn't set out to write a book. But a nagging question led her there: Why did Russia interfere in America's 2016 presidential election, and why attack the United States in such a cunning way?

A young Jewish girl begins a diary just as World War II is about to break out in Europe. She records the details of her daily life, but more and more, the war takes over. Eventually, the diary comes to a heartbreaking end.

In this case, it is not the story of Anne Frank. This is Renia's Diary, a journal that spent decades stored away in a safe deposit box. Now it's being published with help from Renia's niece and sister.

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