This week, a book that will make you laugh, a zombie army set loose on a small town, and a brilliant WWII novel.
The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher (Tor) - Golgotha, Nev., is an unlikely place for humans to battle ancient evil, but that's precisely the fate awaiting sheriff Jon Highfather; his half-human deputy, Mutt; blustering mayor Harry Pratt; and runaway boy Jim Negrey. Angels imprisoned the Greate Olde Wurm under a mountain; millennia later, in 1869, Reverend Ambrose's zombie army is about to set it free.
The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories by Simon Rich (Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur) – One of the funniest books you’ll read this year, Rich’s 30 brief stories include narratives of invisible CIA agents, sex-starved aliens, and Neanderthals.
Ignorance by Michèle Roberts (Bloomsbury) - The parochial prejudices of two provincial towns, Ste.-Marie and Ste.-Madeleine, and by extension France itself, are brilliantly revealed in this uncompromising novel of WWII ignominy and grief. Marie-Angèle Blanchard and Jeanne Nérin are the captivating narrators of this accomplished and inspired story.
Artful by Ali Smith (Penguin Press) - This contemplative, electrifying book comes in four sections, originally delivered as lectures on comparative literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Readers, however, won’t find themselves on the other side of the lectern. Instead, Smith, writing in the first person but not necessarily as Ali Smith, opens with grief: the I-persona has recently lost her longtime love and turns to the papers and research left on her beloved’s desk.
Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart (Knopf) - Doing research in the air-conditioned Barbados Museum, acclaimed writer Stuart stumbles upon her maternal grandfather eight times removed, George Ashby, who migrated to Barbados from England in the late 1630s. Stuart brilliantly weaves together threads of family history, political history, social history, and agricultural history into a narrative covering the evolution of sugar—"white gold"—and slavery and sugar's impact on the development of Barbados.
Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone (Candlewick) - This thorough story of the U.S. military’s first black paratroopers more than just an account of their endeavors during WWII, it takes on a broader perspective as it contextualizes the story of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. A captivating look at a small but significant piece of military and civil rights history.