All at Sea: A Memoir by Decca Aitkenhead tells the story of love and loss, of how one couple changed each other’s life, and of what a sudden death can do to the people who survive. On a hot, still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aitkenhead’s life changed forever. Her four-year-old son was paddling peacefully at the water’s edge when a wave pulled him out to sea. Her partner, Tony, swam out and saved their son’s life–then drowned before her eyes. Here is a great review of the book and a little discussion of her writing process.
City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence. Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherinee Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong examines one of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin–a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth. Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. Look here and here for good reviews.
Cities I’ve Never Lived In: Stories by Sara Majka. Fearlessly riding the line between imagination and experience, fact and fiction, the stories in this debut collection give intimate glimpses of a young New England woman whose life must begin afresh after divorce. A book that upends our ideas of love and belonging, and which asks how much of ourselves we leave behind with each departure we make, these fourteen stories orbit the dreams of a narrator who turns to narrative as a means of working through the world and of understanding herself. To learn more about this collection check out these two reviews.
By Gaslight by Steven Price. As described by Jean Zimmerman from NPR.org, “By Gaslight can be seen as Arthur Conan Doyle by way of Dickens by way of Faulkner . . . Intense, London-centric, threaded through with a melancholy brilliance, it is an extravagant novel that takes inspiration from the classics and yet remains wholly itself.”