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Biography

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

Ai Weiwei
$18.99
The "intimate and expansive" (Time) memoir of "one of the most important artists working in the world today" (Financial Times), telling a remarkable history of China over the last hundred years while also illuminating his artistic process

"Poignant . . . An illuminating through-line emerges in the many parallels Ai traces between his life and his father's."--The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time, BookPage, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews

Once a close associate of Mao Zedong and the nation's most celebrated poet, Ai Weiwei's father, Ai Qing, was branded a rightist during the Cultural Revolution, and he and his family were banished to a desolate place known as "Little Siberia," where Ai Qing was sentenced to hard labor cleaning public toilets. Ai Weiwei recounts his childhood in exile, and his difficult decision to leave his family to study art in America, where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and was inspired by Andy Warhol and the artworks of Marcel Duchamp. With candor and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist--and how his work has been shaped by living under a totalitarian regime.

Ai Weiwei's sculptures and installations have been viewed by millions around the globe, and his architectural achievements include helping to design the iconic Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. His political activism has long made him a target of the Chinese authorities, which culminated in months of secret detention without charge in 2011. Here, for the first time, Ai Weiwei explores the origins of his exceptional creativity and passionate political beliefs through his life story and that of his father, whose creativity was stifled.

At once ambitious and intimate, Ai Weiwei's 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China, and serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.

Naked Don't Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees

Naked Don't Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees

Aikins, Matthieu
$27.99

A NYTBR Editor's Choice

"This is a book of radical empathy, crossing many borders - not just borders that separate nations, but also borders of form, borders of meaning, and borders of possibility. It is powerful and humane and deserves to find a wide, wandering readership." -- Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West

In this extraordinary book, an acclaimed young war reporter chronicles a dangerous journey on the smuggler's road to Europe, accompanying his friend, an Afghan refugee, in search of a better future.

In 2016, a young Afghan driver and translator named Omar makes the heart-wrenching choice to flee his war-torn country, saying goodbye to Laila, the love of his life, without knowing when they might be reunited again. He is one of millions of refugees who leave their homes that year.

Matthieu Aikins, a journalist living in Kabul, decides to follow his friend. In order to do so, he must leave his own passport and identity behind to go underground on the refugee trail with Omar. Their odyssey across land and sea from Afghanistan to Europe brings them face to face with the people at heart of the migration crisis: smugglers, cops, activists, and the men, women and children fleeing war in search of a better life. As setbacks and dangers mount for the two friends, Matthieu is also drawn into the escape plans of Omar's entire family, including Maryam, the matriarch who has fought ferociously for her children's survival.

Harrowing yet hopeful, this exceptional work brings into sharp focus one of the most contentious issues of our times. The Naked Don't Fear the Water is a tale of love and friendship across borders, and an inquiry into our shared journey in a divided world.

Apropos of Nothing

Apropos of Nothing

Allen, Woody
$30.00
The Long-Awaited, Enormously Entertaining Memoir by One of the Great Artists of Our Time--Now a New York Times, USA Today,
Los Angeles Times
, and Publisher's Weekly
Bestseller.

In this candid and often hilarious memoir, the celebrated director, comedian, writer, and actor offers a comprehensive, personal look at his tumultuous life. Beginning with his Brooklyn childhood and his stint as a writer for the Sid Caesar variety show in the early days of television, working alongside comedy greats, Allen tells of his difficult early days doing standup before he achieved recognition and success. With his unique storytelling pizzazz, he recounts his departure into moviemaking, with such slapstick comedies as Take the Money and Run, and revisits his entire, sixty-year-long, and enormously productive career as a writer and director, from his classics Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Annie and Her Sisters to his most recent films, including Midnight in Paris. Along the way, he discusses his marriages, his romances and famous friendships, his jazz playing, and his books and plays. We learn about his demons, his mistakes, his successes, and those he loved, worked with, and learned from in equal measure.

This is a hugely entertaining, deeply honest, rich and brilliant self-portrait of a celebrated artist who is ranked among the greatest filmmakers of our time.

Roxanne says: Our world is round as should our ability to look at an issue. This is a witty love letter to NYC and writing, with the addition of Farrow vs. Allen facts to which anyone with a heart (and the previously mentioned world view) to child advocacy should be open to at least ponder.

Place Called Home

Place Called Home

Ambroz, David
$30.00
A galvanizing, stirring memoir about growing up homeless and in foster care and rising to become a leading advocate for child welfare, recognized by President Obama as an American Champion of Change. "You will fall in love with David Ambroz, his beautifully-told, gut-wrenching story, and his great big heart." (Jeanette Walls, author of The Glass Castle)

"It's impossible to read A Place Called Home and not want to redouble your efforts to fight the systems of poverty that have plagued America for far too long. In this book, David shares his deeply personal story and issues a rousing call to make this a more humane and compassionate nation."--HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

There are millions of homeless children in America today and in A Place Called Home, award-winning child welfare advocate David Ambroz writes about growing up homeless in New York for eleven years and his subsequent years in foster care, offering a window into what so many kids living in poverty experience every day.

When David and his siblings should be in elementary school, they are instead walking the streets seeking shelter while their mother is battling mental illness. They rest in train stations, 24-hour diners, anywhere that's warm and dry; they bathe in public restrooms and steal food to quell their hunger. When David is placed in foster care, at first it feels like salvation but soon proves to be just as unsafe. He's moved from home to home and, in all but one placement, he's abused. His burgeoning homosexuality makes him an easy target for other's cruelty.

David finds hope and opportunities in libraries, schools, and the occasional kind-hearted adult; he harnesses an inner grit to escape the all-too-familiar outcome for a kid like him. Through hard work and unwavering resolve, he is able to get a scholarship to Vassar College, his first significant step out of poverty. He later graduates from UCLA Law with a vision of using his degree to change the laws that affect children in poverty.

Told with lyricism and sparkling with warmth, A Place Called Home depicts childhood poverty and homelessness as it is experienced by so many young people who have been systematically overlooked and unprotected. It's at once a gripping personal account of deprivation--how one boy survived it, and ultimately thrived--and a resounding call for readers to move from empathy to action.

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Anderson, Scott
$18.95
Mamas

Mamas

Andrews-Dyer, Helena
$27.00
Can white moms and Black moms ever truly be friends? Not just mom friends, but like really real friends? And does it matter?

"Utterly addictive . . . Through her sharp wit and dynamic anecdotal storytelling, Helena Andrews-Dyer shines a light on the cultural differences that separate Black and white mothers."--Tia Williams, New York Times bestselling author of Seven Days in June

Helena Andrews-Dyer lives in a "hot" Washington, D.C., neighborhood, which means picturesque row houses and plenty of gentrification. After having her first child, she joined the local mom group--"the Mamas"--and quickly realized that being one of the only Black mothers in the mix was a mixed bag. The racial, cultural, and socioeconomic differences were made clear almost immediately. But spending time in what she calls "the Polly Pocket world of postracial parenting" was a welcome reprieve. Then George Floyd happened. A man was murdered, a man who called out for his mama. And suddenly, the Mamas hit different. Though they were alike in some ways--they want their kids to be safe; they think their husbands are lazy; they work too much and feel guilty about it--Andrews-Dyer realized she had an entirely different set of problems that her neighborhood mom friends could never truly understand.

In The Mamas, Andrews-Dyer chronicles the particular challenges she faces in a group where systemic racism can be solved with an Excel spreadsheet and where she, a Black, professional, Ivy League-educated mom, is overcompensating with every move. Andrews-Dyer grapples with her own inner tensions, like "Why do I never leave the house with the baby and without my wedding ring?" and "Why did every name we considered for our kids have to pass the résumé test?" Throw in a global pandemic and a nationwide movement for social justice, and Andrews-Dyer ultimately tries to find out if moms from different backgrounds can truly understand one another.

With sharp wit and refreshing honesty, The Mamas explores the contradictions and community of motherhood--white and Black and everything--against the backdrop of the rapidly changing world.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt

Anonymous
$15.99
One of the New York Times' 20 Books to Read in 2020

"A tonic . . . Splendid . . . A respite . . . A summer cocktail of a book."

--Washington Post

"Unforgettable . . . Behind her brilliantly witty and uplifting message is a remarkable vulnerability and candor that reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles--and that we can, against all odds, get through them."--Lori Gottlieb, New York Times best-selling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Part memoir and part joyful romp through the fields of imagination, the story behind a beloved pseudonymous Twitter account reveals how a writer deep in grief rebuilt a life worth living.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is two stories: that of the reclusive real-life writer who created a fictional character out of loneliness and thin air, and that of the magical Duchess Goldblatt herself, a bright light in the darkness of social media. Fans around the world are drawn to Her Grace's voice, her wit, her life-affirming love for all humanity, and the fun and friendship of the community that's sprung up around her.

@DuchessGoldblat (81 year-old literary icon, author of An Axe to Grind) brought people together in her name: in bookstores, museums, concerts, and coffee shops, and along the way, brought real friends home--foremost among them, Lyle Lovett.

"The only way to be reliably sure that the hero gets the girl at the end of the story is to be both the hero and the girl yourself." -- Duchess Goldblatt

Nora says: A funny, moving, delightful account of the creation of a fictional online character.  Duchess Goldblatt is a favorite of the literary and publishing world, plus Lyle Lovett! A fun romp, surprisingly philosophical and humane. 

I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home

I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home

Attenberg, Jami
$27.99

A Most Anticipated Title from: USA Today * The Guardian * Alma * Fodor's * AV Club * Vogue * KatieCouric.com * BookRiot * Lithub * BuzzFeed

From New York Times bestselling author Jami Attenberg comes a dazzling memoir about unlocking and embracing her creativity--and how it saved her life.

In this brilliant, fierce, and funny memoir of transformation, Jami Attenberg--described as a "master of modern fiction" (Entertainment Weekly) and the "poet laureate of difficult families" (Kirkus Reviews)--reveals the defining moments that pushed her to create a life, and voice, she could claim for herself. What does it take to devote oneself to art? What does it mean to own one's ideas? What does the world look like for a woman moving solo through it?

As the daughter of a traveling salesman in the Midwest, Attenberg was drawn to a life on the road. Frustrated by quotidian jobs and hungry for inspiration and fresh experiences, her wanderlust led her across the country and eventually on travels around the globe. Through it all she grapples with questions of mortality, otherworldliness, and what we leave behind.

It is during these adventures that she begins to reflect on the experiences of her youth--the trauma, the challenges, the risks she has taken. Driving across America on self-funded book tours, sometimes crashing on couches when she was broke, she keeps writing: in researching articles for magazines, jotting down ideas for novels, and refining her craft, she grows as an artist and increasingly learns to trust her gut and, ultimately, herself.

Exploring themes of friendship, independence, class, and drive, I Came All This Way to Meet You is an inspiring story of finding one's way home--emotionally, artistically, and physically--and an examination of art and individuality that will resonate with anyone determined to listen to their own creative calling.

Roxanne says: Attenberg, approaching fifty, takes us through a good portion of her life via travels to Italy, Hong Kong, and New York.  Akin to Rachel Cusk, Attenberg uses her travel  fore guideposts to reflect on her wounds and victories.  What results is a poignant, no nonsense assessment of freedom  and her own evolutionary value system.


Harold Rosenberg: A Critic's Life

Harold Rosenberg: A Critic's Life

Balken, Debra Bricker
$40.00
Despite being one of the foremost American intellectuals of the mid-twentieth century, Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978) was utterly incapable of fitting in--and he liked it that way. Signature cane in one hand and a cigarette in the other, he cut a distinctive figure on the New York City culture scene, with his radiant dark eyes and black bushy brows. A gangly giant at six foot four, he would tower over others as he forcefully expounded on his latest obsession in an oddly high-pitched, nasal voice. And people would listen, captivated by his ideas.

With Harold Rosenberg: A Critic's Life, Debra Bricker Balken offers the first-ever complete biography of this great and eccentric man. Although he is now known mainly for his role as an art critic at the New Yorker from 1962 to 1978, Balken weaves together a complete tapestry of Rosenberg's life and literary production, cast against the dynamic intellectual and social ferment of his time. She explores his role in some of the most contentious cultural debates of the Cold War period, including those over the commodification of art and the erosion of individuality in favor of celebrity, demonstrated in his famous essay "The Herd of Independent Minds." An outspoken socialist and advocate for the political agency of art, he formed deep alliances with figures such as Hannah Arendt, Saul Bellow, Paul Goodman, Mary McCarthy, Jean-Paul Sartre, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock, all of whom Balken portrays with vivid accounts from Rosenberg's life.

Thoroughly researched and captivatingly written, this book tells in full Rosenberg's brilliant, fiercely independent life and the five decades in which he played a leading role in US cultural, intellectual, and political history.

Mad about Shakespeare

Mad about Shakespeare

Bate, Jonathan
$29.99
'Enlightening, moving' SIR IAN MCKELLEN

From the acclaimed and bestselling biographer Jonathan Bate, a luminous new exploration of Shakespeare and how his themes can untangle comedy and tragedy, learning and loving in our modern lives.

'The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.'

How does one survive the death of a loved one, the mess of war, the experience of being schooled, of falling in love, of growing old, of losing your mind?

Shakespeare's world is never too far different from our own 'permeated with the same tragedies, the same existential questions and domestic worries. In this extraordinary book, Jonathan Bate brings then and now together. He investigates moments of his own life - losses and challenges - and asks whether, if you persevere with Shakespeare, he can offer a word of wisdom or a human insight for any time or any crisis. Along the way we meet actors such as Judi Dench and Simon Callow, and writers such as Dr Johnson, John Keats, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, who turned to Shakespeare in their own dark times.

This is a personal story about loss, the black dog of depression, unexpected journeys and the very human things that echo through time, resonating with us all at one point or another.