Books & Fiction

Haymarket Books Caters to the Literary Tastes of Radicals

Rebecca Stoner

"The holy grail of radical publishing," says Fain, now the press's managing editor, is a book that sparks "conversations . . . in existing movements." Many of Haymarket's books—especially those with a connection to Chicago—focus on the achievements of social justice struggles and on offering a counternarrative to dominant accounts of contentious political issues. 

A Harrowing Tale of the Incarceration System in Shane Bauer’s ‘American Prison’

Lee Polevoi

American Prison aims to be several different things, including a first-person undercover account of what it feels like to guard a general population in a for-profit prison. It’s also  an in-depth history of American convict labor and the rise of private prisons since Colonial times—and how outsourced incarceration has grown over time into a huge business. Bauer’s risky enterprise into life as a corrections officer was partly informed by his experiences as a prisoner in Iran for more than two years. 

The Republic Torn Asunder in Ben Fountain’s ‘Beautiful Country Burn Again’

Lee Polevoi

In Beautiful Country Burn Again, Fountain revisits the tumultuous 2016 presidential campaign. Interspersed with his vivid, on-the-scene reportage are sections he calls “Book of Days,” a more or less objective compilation of world events taking place in the months leading up to Election Day. (It makes for grim reading.) He also theorizes at length about something he calls The Third Reinvention, addressing—with the hopes of reforming or eliminating—wealth inequality, white supremacy, and damage already inflicted on the democratic system.

The Best Books of 2018

Lee Polevoi

Too bad more biographies aren’t like this one, a kaleidoscopic and irreverent look at the life of a now-deceased member of the 20th century British family, a princess determined to go her own way. Craig Brown dispenses with traditional linear narrative (birth, youth, middle age, old age, and death), preferring to draw us in with a series of impressions, anecdotes and speculations about Her Royal Highness (99 in all) that grow out of documented fact and salacious rumors.

John Cleese Discusses Something ‘Completely Different’ in ‘Professor at Large’

Sam Chapin

If you had asked me why it was funny, I probably would have yelled, “Ni!” and ran away. And I’d wager that a lot of Python faithfuls have a hard time enunciating their affections for the material--it feels so effortlessly humorous. It’s easy to forget that someone actually wrote it. In John Cleese’s new book, Professor at Large: The Cornell Years, he gives an intimate and exhaustive exploration of his creative and analytical mind, allowing us to see firsthand the inner workings of a comedic genius. 

Our All-Time Favorite Books (Which You Should Also Read)

Highbrow Magazine Staff

All of us treasure a few books in our lives, which we read and reread and pass onto future generations. These books managed to bore themselves into our brains and hearts, and some even had the power to shape who we are today. In honor of PBS’s The Great American Read – which selected Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as America’s favorite book -- Highbrow Magazine writers and contributors list their all-time favorite book, which stands head and shoulders (so to speak) above the rest of the musty books in their personal libraries.

Ghosts and Spies Emerge From London Fog in Kate Atkinson’s ‘Transcription’

Lee Polevoi

Atkinson quickly establishes place, diction, and a credible spirit of wartime and postwar milieus—while rarely getting bogged down in unnecessary exposition. The tone in the early chapters is both keenly literary and vividly cinematic. Confusion arises, however, with a plethora of secondary characters, i.e., the German sympathizers and double agents, some of whom are being “run” by Godfrey Tobey, some by Perry (her boss). The reader might be forgiven for wondering why many of these clandestine members of the Fifth Column talk so openly about “working for Berlin” or “spying for the Gestapo” in the midst of wartime England. 

H. Jon Benjamin and the Art of Failure

Adam Gravano

We all have a friend whom we laugh and have a good time with, but later, when we go through the events of time together, when it's too late to mention and we're too far apart, we wonder if everything is all right — perhaps while lying awake. This is a book written by that friend. You'll cringe; you'll laugh; you'll cringe while laughing. The book does a remarkable job of accomplishing its goal: You'll find that failure is an option and it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's great to read and makes a more helpful suggestion to people who haven't quite found a good fitting place after graduation.

Two Killers Haunt 1950s London in ‘Death in the Air’

Lee Polevoi

Winkler describes these disparate events in impressive detail. She offers a chilling description of how abysmal government policies, combined with a bout of truly terrible weather, created the slaughterhouse effects of 1952. She writes with verve and sympathy about a handful of Christie’s victims, and seems to capture with disturbing accuracy the killer’s mental state as he commits and then hides the evidence of his monstrous crimes. 

New Zora Neale Hurston Book Slated for 2018

Jordannah Elizabeth

A barracoon is a place of confinement made specifically to hold Black slaves for a temporary period of time. This book will shed light on the reality of slavery through the eyes of a survivor. Hurston’s fearless talent and timeless writing and vision are still ever present and relevant today. “Barracoon” is set for release in May 2018. The new book, “Barracoon,” documents a period of three months Hurston spent in Plateau, Ala., where she met Cudjo Lewis. 

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