The Best Reads of 2021 for Bibiliophiles this Reading Month

The Best Reads of 2021 for Bibiliophiles this Reading Month

With the rise of digitalization in the world, everyone seems to be in a hurry to get work done fast while taking out time to read a book sounds like a forlorn past romance that we once had as a whim.

Let's take a look at the best reads in the fiction category to get our reading glasses on this spring break.

How Beautiful We Were

By Imbolo Mbue

Mbue's sweeping and quietly devastating second novel begins in 1980 in the fictional African village of Kosawa, where representatives from an American oil company have come to meet with the locals, whose children are dying as a result of the environmental havoc (fallow fields, poisoned water) wreaked by its drilling and pipelines. This multi-decade parable of power and corruption proves to be far less straightforward than the typical David-and-Goliath story of a sociopathic organization and the lives it destroys. Mbue crafts a nuanced investigation of self-interest, of what it means to want in the age of capitalism and colonialism — these machines of vicious, insatiable seeking — through the perspective of Kosawa's residents, young and old.

Intimacies

By Katie Kitamura

In Kitamura’s fourth novel, an unidentified court translator in The Hague is tasked with immersing herself in the voices and stories of war criminals with whom she is the only one who can communicate; in the meantime, she is entangled in a volatile relationship with a guy whose marriage may or may not be finished for good. Kitamura's exquisite and minimalist style defies grammatical conventions, reflecting the book's concern with the blurring of intimacies, particularly between the sincere and the coercive. "Intimacies," like her previous work "A Separation," examines our ability to know individuals around us, not as an end in itself but as a lens on larger social themes such as gentrification, colonialism, and feminism. This book seems to suggest that the course a life takes through the world is most important in terms of the effect it has.

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

By Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

"The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois," Jeffers' first novel, is a compelling coming-of-age epic, an investigation of race, and an excavation of American history all at the same time. It alternates between the story of Ailey Pearl Garfield, a Black girl growing up at the turn of the twentieth century, and the "songs" of her forefathers, Native Americans and enslaved African Americans who witnessed the founding of the United States. "Love Songs" paints an evocative vision of Black life as their stories collide, revealing how the past still reverberates today.

No One Is Talking About This

By Patricia Lockwood

Lockwood sprang to prominence as a poet on the internet, with brilliantly imaginative and ribald verse — virtuoso sexts. She described tweeting as "an art form, like sculpture, or honking the national song beneath your armpit" in her 2017 memoir "Priestdaddy," about growing up in rectories around the Midwest presided over by her gun-loving, guitar-playing father, a Catholic priest. She distills the pleasures and deprivations of life split between online and face-to-face relationships in her first novel, transforming the discord into art. The result is a prose poem that is at once majestic, irreverent, intimate, philosophical, humorous, and ultimately deeply moving.

When We Cease to Understand the World

By Benjamín Labatut. Translated by Adrian Nathan West.

Labatut deftly weaves together the lives of some of the greatest intellectuals of the twentieth century to illustrate both the pleasure and pain of scientific breakthroughs: their enormous societal benefits as well as their high human costs. His journey to the far reaches of knowledge, guided by mathematician Alexander Grothendieck, physicist Werner Heisenberg, and chemist Fritz Haber, among others, reveals brief flashes of a world with unlimited potential underpinning the observable world, a "dark nucleus at the heart of things" that some of its witnesses decide should be left alone. This astonishing blend of contemporary fiction also creates the tension of a long true-or-false test: as we read, the boundary between reality and fabulism becomes increasingly blurred.

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