Authors

New Releases

The Changeling
Victor LaValle ’94, BA ’95

“LaValle has a knack for blending social realism with genre tropes,” says Kirkus in a starred review, “and this blend of horror story and fatherhood fable is surprising and admirably controlled.” The Columbia writing professor and author of The Devil in Silver—about a malevolent creature stalking a New York City mental hospital—spins a modern urban fairy tale about a mixed-race man named Apollo who loses his father, wife, and son under tragic, mysterious, and potentially magical circumstances.

“He didn’t open his mouth for fear of swallowing water. He wasn’t in a river. Nor in the ocean. But that’s how he felt. Submerged,” LaValle writes at a climactic moment, when a shackled Apollo awakes from a dream of drowning, to the sounds of what he takes for human screams. “He was in an apartment in New York City. His apartment. Where he’d lived with his family for two years. Being guided back to clarity, to consciousness, by the lead line of another person’s agony. In a way, he had to be grateful for this stranger’s pain. If not for that screaming, he’d only flail aimlessly in this darkness. Lost.”

In May, the New York Times put The Changeling on its list of top summer reads. LaValle’s earlier works include the 1999 short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus and the 2009 novel Big Machine—about the survivor of a suicide cult who joins a group of paranormal investigators—which won an American Book Award and landed on numerous top-ten lists.

Broken River
J. Robert Lennon

The Cornell writing professor, whose previous novels include Familiar and Mailman, sets his latest in an Upstate New York house that was once the site of a double murder. When a family of three moves in years later—seeking a fresh start after troubles in New York City—the tween daughter becomes obsessed with the home’s violent history. Publishers Weekly calls Broken River “a finely tuned tragedy whose well-developed characters are all the more sympathetic for the inexorability of their fates.” The novel also got a starred review from Library Journal and was named one of Amazon’s top picks for May.

Food on the Page
Megan Elias ’91

In what its jacket touts as “the first comprehensive history of American cookbooks,” Elias chronicles how culinary guides have long reflected national food trends—from the publication of American Cookery in 1796 through the heyday of Gourmet magazine to today’s food blogs. Her section on “cookbooks and the counterculture” includes a discussion of Ithaca’s own Moosewood restaurant and its eponymous vegetarian recipe collection, penned by Mollie Katzen ’72. “Tamari was featured, as were tortillas, hummus, and curry,” writes Elias, “all familiar to commune kitchens of the era.” A cultural historian specializing in food, she holds a PhD from CUNY; her other books have covered such topics as home economics, the cultural history of lunch, and the global history of barbecue.

 

City Mouse
Stacey Neren Lender ’91

Kirkus describes Lender’s debut novel as a “bracingly tart portrait of suburban hell.” No longer able to afford their Manhattan neighborhood, Jessica and her husband move with their daughters to Rockland County, where she finds herself the only working mom in her new social circle—populated by women obsessed with having perfect bodies, clothes, homes, and lives. “In the city I had never thought twice about what I threw on when I ran out of the apartment, but in Suffern, I felt a weird pressure to make sure I looked somewhat put together, especially in situations where I knew I might be meeting people,” Lender writes in Jessica’s first-person narration. “Like middle school all over again. Is my bra strap showing? Is my shirt tucked in right? At drop-off, at pickup, even at the supermarket on Sunday mornings, I often felt eyes all around me, little looks checking me out: the new mom.”

 

Problem Solved
Cheryl Strauss Einhorn ’91

An investigative journalist who covers business and finance, Einhorn is also a consultant focused on effective decision making. Her new book offers a guide to a decision-making method she developed, called AREA (for its four stages: Absolute, Relative, Exploration & Exploitation, and Analysis), that she teaches to journalism and business students at Columbia. “It draws an analogy with the way a cheetah hunts,” former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair explains in the introduction. “The key is the animal’s ability to decelerate and pause, giving it the opportunity to turn and change direction where necessary to pursue its prey. In the same way, when taking a critical decision, [Einhorn] shows how at crucial moments it pays to slow down, to re-assess, and sometimes to switch course.” The book is punctuated with lists of questions to clarify the issues at hand, which Einhorn whimsically dubs “Cheetah Sheets.”

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