Bryn Mawr Reading Series

2020-21 Reading Series: Necessary Conversations

  • Oct. 7, 2020: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and Karen Russell
  • Postponed (new date to be announced): Frank Bidart and Garth Greenwell
  • Postponed (new date to be announced): Dan Chiasson and Airea Dee Matthews
  • Postponed (new date to be announced): Eula Biss and Sarah M. Broom
  • Feb. 24, 2020: Sigrid Nunez and Camille Dungy
  • March 10, 2020: Rebecca Makkai and Jorie Graham
  • April 7, 2020: Natalie Diaz and Kirstin Valdez Quade

Access to each online event requires a book purchase from one of the evening’s authors from the Bryn Mawr College Bookshop online. All books accompanied by a signed bookplate from our authors. Discussions moderated by Daniel Torday, Airea Dee Matthews, Emma Copley Eisenberg, and Cynthia Dewi Oka.

Books for Fall semester events appear below.

Full series information is available at: www.brynmawr.edu/reading-series

 

Friday Black

Friday Black
$13.50
New/Used: New

by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

 

October 7, 2020

 

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

 

"An unbelievable debut, one that announces a new and necessary American voice." --Tommy Orange, New York Times Book Review

 

"An excitement and a wonder: strange, crazed, urgent and funny." --George Saunders

 

"Dark and captivating and essential . . . A call to arms and a condemnation . . . Read this book." --Roxane Gay

 

A National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree, chosen by Colson Whitehead
Winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Award for Best First Book

 

A piercingly raw debut story collection from a young writer with an explosive voice; a treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it's like to be young and black in America.

 

From the start of this extraordinary debut, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country.

 

These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In "The Finkelstein Five," Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unforgettable reckoning of the brutal prejudice of our justice system. In "Zimmer Land," we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And "Friday Black" and "How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King" show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all.

 

Entirely fresh in its style and perspective, and sure to appeal to fans of Colson Whitehead, Marlon James, and George Saunders, Friday Blackconfronts readers with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope.

 

ISBN/SKU: 
9781328911247
Publication Date: 
October 23, 2018
Publisher: 

Sleep Donation

Sleep Donation
$16.00

by Karen Russell

October 7, 2020


O

For the first time in paperback, a haunting novella from the uncannily imaginative author of the national bestsellers Swamplandia! and Orange World the story of a deadly insomnia epidemic and the lengths one woman will go to to fight it.

Trish Edgewater is the Slumber Corps' top recruiter. On the phone, at a specially organized Sleep Drive, even in a supermarket parking lot: Trish can get even the most reluctant healthy dreamer to donate sleep to an insomniac in crisis--one of hundreds of thousands of people who have totally lost the ability to sleep. Trish cries, she shakes, she shows potential donors a picture of her deceased sister, Dori: one of the first victims of the lethal insomnia plague that has swept the globe.

Run by the wealthy and enigmatic Storch brothers, the Slumber Corps is at the forefront of the fight against this deadly new disease. But when Trish is confronted by "Baby A," the first universal sleep donor, and the mysterious "Donor Y," whose horrific infectious nightmares are threatening to sweep through the precious sleep supply, her faith in the organization and in her own motives begins to falter.

Fully illustrated with dreamy evocations of Russell's singular imagination and featuring a brand-new "Nightmare Appendix," Sleep Donation will keep readers up long into the night and long after haunt their dreams.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780525566083
Publication Date: 
September 29, 2020
Author: 
Publisher: 

Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016

Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
$20.00

by Frank Bidart

October 21, 2020

WINNER OF THE 2018 PULITZER PRIZE IN POETRY
WINNER OF THE 2017 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR POETRY

The collected works of one of contemporary poetry's most original voices

Gathered together, the poems of Frank Bidart perform one of the most remarkable transmutations of the body into language in contemporary literature. His pages represent the human voice in all its extreme registers, whether it's that of the child-murderer Herbert White, the obsessive anorexic Ellen West, the tormented genius Vaslav Nijinsky, or the poet's own. And in that embodiment is a transgressive empathy, one that recognizes our wild appetites, the monsters, the misfits, the misunderstood among us and inside us. Few writers have so willingly ventured to the dark places of the human psyche and allowed themselves to be stripped bare on the page with such candor and vulnerability. Over the past half century, Bidart has done nothing less than invent a poetics commensurate with the chaos and appetites of our experience.

Half-light encompasses all of Bidart's previous books, and also includes a new collection, Thirst, in which the poet austerely surveys his life, laying it plain for us before venturing into something new and unknown. Here Bidart finds himself a "Creature coterminous with thirst," still longing, still searching in himself, one of the "queers of the universe."

Visionary and revelatory, intimate and unguarded, Bidart's Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2017 are a radical confrontation with human nature, a conflict eternally renewed and reframed, restless line by restless line.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780374537692
Publication Date: 
August 21, 2018
Author: 

Cleanness

Cleanness
$21.00

by Garth Greenwell

October 21, 2020

In the highly anticipated follow-up to his beloved debut, What Belongs to You, Garth Greenwell deepens his exploration of foreignness, obligation, and desire

 

Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, wind scatters sand from the far south, and political protesters flood the streets with song.

 

In this atmosphere of disquiet, an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love. As he prepares to leave the place he's come to call home, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each bearing uncanny reminders of his past. A queer student's confession recalls his own first love, a stranger's seduction devolves into paternal sadism, and a romance with another foreigner opens, and heals, old wounds. Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit, and with our own fugitive selves.

 

Cleanness revisits and expands the world of Garth Greenwell's beloved debut, What Belongs to You, declared "an instant classic" by The New York Times Book Review. In exacting, elegant prose, he transcribes the strange dialects of desire, cementing his stature as one of our most vital living writers.

 

ISBN/SKU: 
9780374124588
Publication Date: 
January 14, 2020
Author: 

Math Campers: Poems

Math Campers: Poems
$27.00

by Dan Chiasson

November 4, 2020

A father and husband's meditation on love, adolescence, and the mysterious mechanisms of poetic creation, from the acclaimed poet.

 

The poet's art is revealed in stages in this "making-of" book, where we watch as poems take shape--first as dreams or memories, then as drafts, and finally as completed works set loose on the world. In the long poem "Must We Mean What We Say," a woman reader narrates in prose the circumstances behind poems and snippets of poems she receives in letters from a stranger. Who made up whom? Chiasson, an acclaimed poetry critic, has invented a remarkable structure where the reader and a poet speak to one another, across the void of silence and mystery. He is also the father of teenaged sons, and this volume continues the autobiographical arc of his prior, celebrated volumes. One long section is about the age of thirteen and the dawning of desire, while the title poem looks at the crucial age of fifteen and the existential threat of climate change and gun violence, which alters the calculus of adolescence. Though the outlook is bleak, these poems register the glories of our moment: that there are places where boys can kiss each other and not be afraid; that small communities are rousing and taking care of each other; that teenagers have mobilized for a better world. All of these works emerge from the secretive imagination of a father as he measures his own adolescence against that of his sons and explores the complex bedrock of marriage. Chiasson sees a perilous world both navigated and enriched by the passionate young and by the parents--and poets--who care for them.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780593317747
Publication Date: 
September 22, 2020
Author: 
Publisher: 

Simulacra

Simulacra
$20.00
New/Used: New

by Airea Dee Matthews

November 4, 2020

Winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize

 

A fresh and rebellious poetic voice, Airea D. Matthews debuts in the acclaimed series that showcases the work of exciting and innovative young American poets. Matthews's superb collection explores the topic of want and desire with power, insight, and intense emotion. Her poems cross historical boundaries and speak emphatically from a racialized America, where the trajectories of joy and exploitation, striving and thwarting, violence and celebration are constrained by differentials of privilege and contemporary modes of communication. In his foreword, series judge Carl Phillips calls this book "rollicking, destabilizing, at once intellectually sly and piercing and finally poignant." This is poetry that breaks new literary ground, inspiring readers to think differently about what poems can and should do in a new media society where imaginations are laid bare and there is no thought too provocative to send out into the world.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780300223965
Publication Date: 
March 28, 2017
Author: 
Publisher: 

Having and Being Had

Having and Being Had
$26.00

by Eula Biss

November 18, 2020

A timely and arresting new look at affluence by a consistently surprising writer

 

"My adult life can be divided into two distinct parts," Eula Biss writes, "the time before I owned a washing machine and the time after." Having just purchased her first home, she now embarks on a roguish and risky self-audit of the value system she has bought into. The result is a radical interrogation of work, leisure, and capitalism. Described by The New York Times as a writer who "advances from all sides, like a chess player," Biss brings her approach to the lived experience of capitalism. Playfully ranging from IKEA to Beyoncé to Pokemon, across bars and laundromats and universities, she asks, of both herself and her class, "In what have we invested?"

ISBN/SKU: 
9780525537458
Publication Date: 
September 1, 2020
Author: 
Publisher: 

Yellow House: A Memoir

Yellow House: A Memoir
$17.00

by Sarah M. Broom

November 18, 2020

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSLLER

Winner of the 2019 National Book Award in Nonfiction

A brilliant, haunting and unforgettable memoir from a stunning new talent about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East.

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant--the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah's birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae's thirteenth and most unruly child.

A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America's most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother's struggle against a house's entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the "Big Easy" of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780802149039
Publication Date: 
July 7, 2020
Author: 
Publisher: