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Books to Watch | June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

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Looking for your next great read? We're here to help! Each week, our marketing team—Dylan Schleicher (DJJS), Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), Emily Porter (EPP), and Jasmine Gonzalez (JAG)—highlights four newly released books we are most excited about. 

Book descriptions are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted.

This week, our choices are:

Butler to the World: The Book the Oligarchs Don’t Want You to Read - How Britain Helps the World's Worst People Launder Money, Commit Crimes, and Get Away with Anything by Oliver Bullough, St. Martin’s Press (DJJS) 

The Suez Crisis of 1956 was the nadir of Britain's twentieth century, the moment when the once-superpower was bullied into retreat. "Great Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role," said Dean Acherson, a former US secretary of state. Acheson's line has entered into the canon of great quotations: but it was wrong. Britain had already found a role. The leaders of the world just hadn't noticed it yet. 
 
Butler to the World reveals how Britain came to assume its role as the center of the offshore economy. Written polemically, but studded with witty references to the butlers of popular fiction, it demonstrates how so many elements of modern Britain have been put at the service of the world's oligarchs. 
 
The Biden administration is putting corruption at the heart of its foreign policy, and that means it needs to confront Britain's role as the foremost enabler of financial crime and ill behavior. This book lays bare how London has deliberately undercut U.S. regulations for decades, and really calls into question the extent to which Britain can be considered a reliable ally. 

 

The Girls in Queens by Christine Kandic Torres, HarperVia (GMC) 

Best friends growing up along Clement Moore Avenue in Queens, Brisma and Kelly will do anything for each other. They keep each other’s secrets, from their mother’s hidden heartbreaks to warding off the unwanted advances of creepy neighbors. Their exclusive world shifts when they begin high school and Brisma falls deeply in love with Brian, the local baseball legend. Always the wallflower to the vibrant and alluring Kelly, Brisma is secretly thrilled to be chosen by the popular athlete, to finally have someone that belongs to her alone. But as she, Brian, and Kelly fall into the roles that have been set before them, they ignite a bonfire of unrealized hopes and dreams, smoldering embers that finally find some oxygen to burn.    

Years later, Brisma and Kelly haven’t spoken to Brian, ever since a backyard party that went wrong, but their beloved Los Mets are on a historic run for the playoffs and the three friends—no longer children—are reunited. Brisma finds herself once again drawn to her first love. But when Brian is accused of sexual assault, the two friends must make a choice. At first, both rush to support and defend him. But while Kelly remains Brian’s staunch defender, Brisma begins to have doubts as old memories of their relationship surface. As Brisma and Kelly face off in a battle for what they each believe they are owed, these two lifelong friends must decide if their shared past is enough to sustain their future.   

Told in alternating timelines, The Girls in Queens is a novel for and of our time—a skillful exploration of the furious loyalty of young women, the complications of sexual abuse allegations within communities of color, and the danger of forgetting that sometimes monsters hide in plain sight. 

 

Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall by Alexandra Lange, Bloomsbury (JAG) 

Few places have been as nostalgized, or as maligned, as the American mall. Since its birth around the turn of the 1950s, it has loomed large as a temple of commerce and agora of the suburbs. In its prime, it proved a powerful draw for creative thinkers from Joan Didion to Ray Bradbury to George Romero, who understood its appeal as both critics and consumers. Yet today, amid the aftershocks of financial crises and a global pandemic, as well as the rise of online retail, the dystopian husk of an abandoned shopping center has become one of our era’s defining images. Conventional wisdom holds that the mall is dead. But what was the mall, really? And have rumors of its demise been greatly exaggerated? 

In her acclaimed The Design of Childhood, Alexandra Lange uncovered the histories of toys, classrooms, and playgrounds. She now turns her sharp eye to another subject we only think we know. She chronicles postwar architects’ and merchants’ invention of the mall, revealing how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in their cultural ascent. In Lange’s perceptive account, the mall becomes newly strange and rich with contradiction: Malls are environments of both freedom and exclusion—of consumerism, but also of community. Meet Me By the Fountain is a highly entertaining and evocative promenade through the mall’s story of rise, fall, and ongoing reinvention, for readers of any generation. 

 

The Wet Hex by Sun Yung Shin, Coffee House Press (EPP) 

Personal and environmental violations form the backdrop against which Sun Yung Shin examines questions of grievability, violence, and responsibility in The Wet Hex. Incorporating sources such as her own archival immigration documents, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Christopher Columbus’s journals, and traditional Korean burial rituals, Shin explores the ways that lives are weighed and bartered. Smashing the hierarchies of god and humanity, heaven and hell, in favor of indigenous Korean shamanism and animism, The Wet Hex layers an apocalyptic revision of nineteenth-century imagery of the sublime over the present, conjuring a reality at once beautiful and terrible. 

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