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Books You Shouldn't Miss

A work of fiction, a work of non-fiction, and a collection of short stories that you shouldn't miss.


Marlene Van Niekerk's novel Agaat has recently been translated from Afrikaans and has been the recipient of many prizes and praise, including some from Toni Morrison, who said that it was "absolutely the most extraordinary book I have read in a long time." Van Niekerk told Studio 360's Kurt Anderson that Agaat is "the story of tables that are turned." 

Van Niekerk read an excerpt from the book on air:

Rivers burgeoning.  Rivers without end.  Small rivers crossing, rivers redolent of dove coats, on salt on mondays, of snakes.  Rivers of the hunting of the buffalo.  Rivers like buttermilk.  Rivers running through fields of wheat.  Winding, hopeful, stony rivers.  What can have remained of them? The rivers could not be blamed.  Not of thy rivers, no.  My country tis of thy people.  You are dying.

Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife

Lisa Miller, religion editor of Newsweek, says that our complicated relationship with the afterlife is reflect in the very word for one of our supposed options, the word "heaven." “It’s a mush." she told WNYC's Leonard Lopate. "You know, in the Hebrew bible there’s a word for sky, there’s a word for the world to come, which is what happens after the world ends, there’s a word for Eden, there’s a word for paradise, but there’s not a word that mushes all these words together.”

Imperial Bedrooms

Bret Easton Ellis, the author of American Psycho, returns to the characters from his first novel Less than Zero in his latest novel Imperial Bedrooms.  Ellis told WNYC's Leonard Lopate, “I’m someone who never uses metaphor.  Most of my characters are too narcissistic to see how one thing relates to another.”

The Spot: Stories

David Means has been compared to Alice Munro, Raymond Carver and Flannery O'Conner. He told WNYC's Leonard Lopate that he prefers the short story formula because it allows him to “get in and get out." He explained, “I’m a problematic realist.  My job as a writer is to, and I think Flannery O’Connor said this kind of thing: grab reality.  Grapple with reality.  Find a way to understand the truth of reality.”