Reading Series 2023-2024

The Bryn Mawr Reading Series brings major American and international writers in all literary genres to engage with students and the Philadelphia area community.

For more information, visit the Reading Series page on the BMC website, where you can also sign up for the Arts at Bryn Mawr mailing list.

Kairos

Kairos
$20.75

by Jenny Erpenbeck

Wednesday, September 27

Jenny Erpenbeck (the author of Go, Went, Gone and Visitation) is an epic storyteller and arguably the most powerful voice in contemporary German literature. Erpenbeck's new novel Kairos--an unforgettably compelling masterpiece--tells the story of the romance begun in East Berlin at the end of the 1980s when nineteen-year-old Katharina meets by chance a married writer in his fifties named Hans. Their passionate yet difficult long-running affair takes place against the background of the declining GDR, through the upheavals wrought by its dissolution in 1989 and then what comes after. In her unmistakable style and with enormous sweep, Erpenbeck describes the path of two lovers, as Katharina grows up and tries to come to terms with a not always ideal romance, even as a whole world with its own ideology disappears. As the Times Literary Supplement writes: "The weight of history, the particular experiences of East and West, and the ways in which cultural and subjective memory shape individual identity has always been present in Erpenbeck's work. She knows that no one is all bad, no state all rotten, and she masterfully captures the existential bewilderment of this period between states and ideologies."

In the opinion of her superbly gifted translator Michael Hofmann, Kairos is the great post-Unification novel. And, as The New Republic has commented on his work as a translator: "Hofmann's translation is invaluable--it achieves what translations are supposedly unable to do: it is at once 'loyal' and 'beautiful.'"

ISBN/SKU: 
9780811229340
Publication Date: 
June 6, 2023

Go Went Gone

Go Went Gone
$13.21

by Jenny Erpenbeck

Wednesday, September 27

Go, Went, Gone is the masterful new novel by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, "one of the most significant German-language novelists of her generation" (The Millions). The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes. Exquisitely translated by Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone addresses one of the most pivotal issues of our time, facing it head-on in a voice that is both nostalgic and frightening.
ISBN/SKU: 
9780811225946
Publication Date: 
September 26, 2017

End of Days

End of Days
$13.21

by Jenny Erpenbeck

Wednesday, September 27

Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Hans Fallada Prize, The End of Days, by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, consists essentially of five "books," each leading to a different death of the same unnamed female protagonist. How could it all have gone differently?--the narrator asks in the intermezzos. The first chapter begins with the death of a baby in the early twentieth-century Hapsburg Empire. In the next chapter, the same girl grows up in Vienna after World War I, but a pact she makes with a young man leads to a second death. In the next scenario, she survives adolescence and moves to Russia with her husband. Both are dedicated Communists, yet our heroine ends up in a labor camp. But her fate does not end there....

A novel of incredible breadth and amazing concision, The End of Days offers a unique overview of the twentieth century.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780811225137
Publication Date: 
February 8, 2016

Patricular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Patricular Sadness of Lemon Cake
$16.95

by Aimee Bender

Wednesday, November 8

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she's privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father's detachment, her mother's transgression, her brother's increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can't discern.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780385720960
Publication Date: 
April 19, 2011
Author: 
Publisher: 

Jennifer Chan is Not Alone

Jennifer Chan is Not Alone
$8.96

by Tae Keller

Wednesday, November 29

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal for When You Trap a Tiger, Tae Keller offers a gripping and emotional story about friendship, bullying, and the possiblity that there's more in the universe than just us.

Sometimes middle school can make you feel like you're totally alone in the universe . . . but what if we aren't alone at all?

Thanks to her best friend, Reagan, Mallory Moss knows the rules of middle school. The most important one? You have to fit in to survive. But then Jennifer Chan moves in across the street, and that rule doesn't seem to apply. Jennifer doesn't care about the laws of middle school, or the laws of the universe. She believes in aliens--and she thinks she can find them.

Then Jennifer goes missing. Using clues from Jennifer's journals, Mallory goes searching. But the closer she gets to answers, the more Mallory has to confront why Jennifer might have run . . . and face the truth within herself.

Tae Keller lights up the sky with this insightful story about shifting friendships, right and wrong, and the power we all hold to influence and change one another. No one is ever truly alone.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780593310557
Publication Date: 
May 2, 2023
Author: 
Publisher: 

Science of Breakable Things

Science of Breakable Things
$8.96

by Tae Keller

Wednesday, November 29

Natalie's uplifting story of using the scientific process to "save" her mother from depression is what Booklist calls "a winning story full of heart and action."

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.

When Natalie's science teacher suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie thinks that this might be the perfect solution to all of her problems. There's prize money, and if she and her friends wins, then she can fly her botanist mother to see the miraculous Cobalt Blue Orchids--flowers that survive against impossible odds. Natalie's mother has been suffering from depression, and Natalie is sure that the flowers' magic will inspire her mom to love life again. Which means it's time for Natalie's friends to step up and show her that talking about a problem is like taking a plant out of a dark cupboard and giving it light. With their help, Natalie begins an uplifting journey to discover the science of hope, love, and miracles.

A vibrant, loving debut about the coming-of-age moment when kids realize that parents are people, too. Think THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH meets THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR * KIRKUS REVIEWS * THE CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY *

"Natalie's Korean heritage is sensitively explored, as is the central issue of depression."
--Publishers Weekly

"A compassionate glimpse of mental illness accessible to a broad audience."
--Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"Holy moly!!! This book made me feel."
--Colby Sharp, editor of The Creativity Project, teacher, and cofounder of Nerdy Book Club

ISBN/SKU: 
9781524715694
Publication Date: 
May 21, 2019
Author: 
Publisher: 

When You Trap a Tiger

When You Trap a Tiger
$8.96

by Tae Keller

Wednesday, November 29

WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL - WINNER OF THE ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICAN AWARD FOR CHILDREN'S LITERATURE - #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.

Some stories refuse to stay bottled up...

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni's Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal--return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni's health--Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice...and the courage to face a tiger.

Tae Keller, the award-winning author of The Science of Breakable Things, shares a sparkling tale about the power of stories and the magic of family. Think Walk Two Moons meets Where the Mountain Meets the Moon!

"If stories were written in the stars ... this wondrous tale would be one of the brightest." --Booklist, Starred Review

ISBN/SKU: 
9781524715731
Publication Date: 
January 3, 2023
Author: 
Publisher: 

Incendiary Art

Incendiary Art
$18.95

by Patricia Smith

TBD

Winner, 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Finalist, 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
Winner, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in the Poetry category
Winner, 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award
Winner, 2018 BCALA Best Poetry Award
Winner, Abel Meeropol Award for Social Justice
Finalist, Neustadt International Prize for Literature
Winner, 2021 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

One of the most magnetic and esteemed poets in today's literary landscape, Patricia Smith fearlessly confronts the tyranny against the black male body and the tenacious grief of mothers in her compelling new collection, Incendiary Art. She writes an exhaustive lament for mothers of the "dark magicians," and revisits the devastating murder of Emmett Till. These dynamic sequences serve as a backdrop for present-day racial calamities and calls for resistance. Smith embraces elaborate and eloquent language-- "her gorgeous fallen son a horrid hidden / rot. Her tiny hand starts crushing roses--one by one / by one she wrecks the casket's spray. It's how she / mourns--a mother, still, despite the roar of thorns"-- as she sharpens her unerring focus on incidents of national mayhem and mourning. Smith envisions, reenvisions, and ultimately reinvents the role of witness with an incendiary fusion of forms, including prose poems, ghazals, sestinas, and sonnets. With poems impossible to turn away from, one of America's most electrifying writers reveals what is frightening, and what is revelatory, about history.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780810134331
Publication Date: 
February 15, 2017
Author: 
Publisher: 

Blood Dazzler

Blood Dazzler
$16.00

by Patricia Smith

TBD

In minute-by-minute detail, Patricia Smith tracks Hurricane Katrina as it transforms into a full-blown mistress of destruction. From August 23, 2005, the day Tropical Depression Twelve developed, through August 28 when it became a Category Five storm with its "scarlet glare fixed on the trembling crescent," to the heartbreaking aftermath, these poems evoke the horror that unfolded in New Orleans as America watched it on television.

Assuming the voices of flailing politicians, the dying, their survivors, and the voice of the hurricane itself, Smith follows the woefully inadequate relief effort and stands witness to families held captive on rooftops and in the Superdome. She gives voice to the thirty-four nursing home residents who drowned in St. Bernard Parish and recalls the day after their deaths when George W. Bush accompanied country singer Mark Willis on guitar:

The cowboy grins through the terrible din,
***
And in the Ninth, a choking woman wails
Look like this country done left us for dead.

An unforgettable reminder that poetry can still be "news that stays news," Blood Dazzler is a necessary step toward national healing.

Patricia Smith is the author of four previous collections of poetry, including Teahouse of the Almighty, winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize. A record-setting, national poetry slam champion, she was featured in the film Slamnation, on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam, and is a frequent contributor to Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's blog. Visit her website at www.wordwoman.ws.

ISBN/SKU: 
9781566892186
Publication Date: 
September 1, 2008
Author: 
Publisher: 

All the Flowers Kneeling

All the Flowers Kneeling
$18.00
$12.75
$12.75 - $18.00
Finalist for the 2023 PEN Open Book Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Pick
Named a Best Book of 2022 by The New Yorker

"Paul Tran's debut collection of poems is indelible, this remarkable voice transforming itself as you read, eventually transforming you." --Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

"This powerful debut marshals narrative lyrics and stark beauty to address personal and political violence." --New York Times Book Review

A profound meditation on physical, emotional, and psychological transformation in the aftermath of imperial violence and interpersonal abuse, from a poet both "tender and unflinching" (Khadijah Queen)

Visceral and astonishing, Paul Tran's debut poetry collection All the Flowers Kneeling investigates intergenerational trauma, sexual violence, and U.S. imperialism in order to radically alter our understanding of freedom, power, and control. In poems of desire, gender, bodies, legacies, and imagined futures, Tran's poems elucidate the complex and harrowing processes of reckoning and recovery, enhanced by innovative poetic forms that mirror the nonlinear emotional and psychological experiences of trauma survivors. At once grand and intimate, commanding and deeply vulnerable, All the Flowers Kneeling revels in rediscovering and reconfiguring the self, and ultimately becomes an essential testament to the human capacity for resilience, endurance, and love.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780143136842
Publication Date: 
February 15, 2022
Author: 
Publisher: