Review by New York Times Review
PRAIRIE FIRES: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser. (Metropolitan/Holt, $35.) This thoroughly researched biography of the "Little House" author perceptively captures Wilder's extraordinary life and legacy, offering fresh interpretations of Western American history along the way. EMPRESS OF THE EAST: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire, by Leslie Peirce. (Basic, $32.) Peirce tells the remarkable story of Roxelana, a 16th-century Christian woman in Suleiman the Magnificent's harem who achieved unprecedented power and changed the nature of the Ottoman government. MRS. OSMOND, by John Banville. (Knopf, $27.95.) Banville's sequel to Henry James's novel "Portrait of a Lady," faithful to the master's style and story, follows Isabel Archer back to Rome and the possible end of her marriage. THE REPORTER'S KITCHEN: Essays, by Jane Kramer. (St. Martin's, $26.99.) In a delectable collection of culinary profiles, book reviews and reminiscences, the longtime New Yorker correspondent shows how she approaches life through food and food through life. FUTURE HOME OF THE LIVING GOD, by Louise Erdrich. (HarperCollins, $28.99.) What if human beings are neither inevitable nor ultimate? That's the premise of Erdrich's fascinating new novel, which describes a world where evolution is running backward and the future of civilization is in doubt. THE DAWN WATCH: Joseph Conrad in a Global World, by Maya Jasanoff. (Penguin Press, $30.) Conrad explored the frontiers of a globalized world at the turn of the last century. Jasanoff uses Conrad's novels and his biography in order to tell the history of that moment, one that mirrors our own. THE DAWN OF DETROIT: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits, by Tiya Miles. (The New Press, $27.95.) This rich and surprising book begins in the early 18th century, when the French controlled Detroit and most slaves were both Native American and female. THIS IS THE PLACE: Women Writing About Home, edited by Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters. (Seal Press, paper, $16.99.) For these writers, home is where we are most ourselves - our mother tongue, our homeland, our people or just one person. JAMES WRIGHT: A Life in Poetry, by Jonathan Blunk. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $40.) Blunk illuminates the influences and obsessions of the ecstatic, troubled Wright and reveals him to be a lot like his poems: brilliant, intense and equally likely to soar or faceplant. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [August 30, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Cedar Hawk Songmaker, the adopted Native American daughter of two white Minnesota liberals, is secretly pregnant when she discovers that her birth name is Mary Potts. With this slash of wry cultural irony, Erdrich (LaRose, 2016) launches a breakout work of speculative fiction in which a sudden reversal of evolution is underway, threatening the future of humankind and life itself. The disintegrating, increasingly fascist and evangelical government is rounding up and incarcerating pregnant women, so Cedar heads to her Ojibwe birth mother's reservation. But no place is safe and she is soon on the run. Throughout her harrowing, often darkly funny ordeal, she keeps a journal for her child whom she knows she has little chance of raising recounting, with exceptional sensory and psychological precision, the horrors of her predicament, the wild courage of the underground network helping fugitive mothers-to-be, and, in stark contrast to the violent chaos, the miraculous growth of her fetus.In this feverish cautionary tale, Erdrich enters the realm of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985), Emily Schultz's The Blondes (2015), Edan Lepucki's California (2014), Laura van den Berg's Find Me (2015), and Claire Vaye Watkins' Gold, Fame, Citrus (2015), infusing her masterful, full-tilt dystopian novel with stinging insights into the endless repercussions of the Native American genocide, hijacked spirituality, and the ongoing war against women's rights. A tornadic, suspenseful, profoundly provoking novel of life's vulnerability and insistence. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Erdrich's devoted readers will flock, of course, but so will a wider audience attracted by the bold apocalyptic theme, searing social critique, and high-adrenaline action.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2017 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Set in Minnesota in a dystopian future in which evolution is going haywire, much of this startling new work of speculative fiction by Erdrich (LaRose) takes the form of a diary by pregnant Cedar Hawk Songmaker addressed to her unborn child. Happily raised and well-educated by her adopted parents Sera and Glen Songmaker, Cedar decides nevertheless to visit her Ojibwe birth family on the rez up north. But times are strange: "our world is running backward. Or forward. Or maybe sideways." Flora and fauna are taking on prehistoric characteristics, and there is talk of viruses. It isn't long before pregnant women are being rounded up. Cedar meets up again with her baby's father, Phil, and for a while she hides with him. But eventually she is caught by the authorities, who reveal nothing about what is happening. A hospital incarceration, escape, violence, and murder ensue as Cedar and other pregnant women she meets along the way-helped by the valiant Sera, Cedar's adoptive mother-will do anything to protect themselves and their babies. Erdrich's characters are brave and conscientious, but none of them really come across as people; they act mostly as vehicles for Erdrich's ideas. Those ideas, however-reproductive freedom, for one, and faith in and respect for the natural world-are strikingly relevant. Erdrich has written a cautionary tale for this very moment in time. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Born on an Ojibwe reservation, Cedar Songmaker was adopted by Sera and Glen, an ultraliberal couple who made sure Cedar never forgot her tribal roots. Now 26, single, and pregnant, Cedar is living in a dystopian future, where a biological calamity appears to be reversing evolution. To tamp down panic, cable and telecommunications companies have been seized. Many women are dying in childbirth, their babies not viable. An ultrasound indicates that Cedar's child might be perfect, which sets her on the run from laws that call for rounding up and incarcerating mothers-to-be until delivery. Whom can she trust? Phil, the father of her child; her tribal family, who could spirit her to Canada; her adoptive parents, who have disappeared? In a narrative that is propulsive, wry, and keenly observant, Cedar records her fears in a diary for her unborn baby. Though Erdrich (Round House; LaRose) struggles to wrap up these observances in a single, cohesive message, she unpacks a Pandora's box of contemporary thematic threads, including environmental devastation, religious intolerance, censorship, and government overreach of women's reproductive rights. VERDICT Quite different from Erdrich's previous work, this chilling speculative fiction is perfect for readers seeking the next Handmaid's Tale. [See Prepub Alert, 5/8/17.]-Sally -Bissell, formerly with Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.