Book Club Recommendations for May 2021
Specially curated book clubs picks that are sure to spark a lively discussion!
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Deacon King Kong
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.
In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.
As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters–caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York–overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House
In the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, a debut novel, set in Barbados, about four people confronting violence and love in a beachfront “paradise”
In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers and go into the Baxter’s Tunnels. When she’s grown-up, Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men, driven into the Tunnels by desperation and greed, who attempt a crime that may cost them their freedom—and their lives.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is an intimate and visceral portrayal of interconnected lives across race and class in a rapidly changing resort town, told by an astonishing new author of literary fiction.
“You’re gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine” is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez,” and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny’s world is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages–and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of Indigenous life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.
Like Rum-Drunk Angels
Francis Blackstone is a fourteen-year-old gunslinger with a heart of gold.
He’s fallen for the mayor’s daughter and resolves to make his mark, and his fortune, to win her favour. And what better way than to rob a Manhattan Company bank? Enter Bob Temple, the volatile outlaw who takes Francis under his wing— though not without a degree of suspicion— and so begins the adventures of the Blackstone Temple Gang as they crisscross the west in search of treasure, redemption, and the possibility of requited love.
After an encounter with a rival gang, Francis and Bob Temple are chased over the Sierras to California, where they enjoy unexpected fame as gentleman bandits. But their newfound celebrity brings hardships as well, and when their final job takes a startling turn, Francis is forced to discover what it means to make peace with a world that stands against him.
At once a tribute to boyhood enthusiasm and the heroes of classical quests, Like Rum-Drunk Angels is an offbeat, slightly magical, entirely original retelling of Aladdin as an American western.