New books by Chicago writer Marisel Vera, UIC prof Adam Goodman, more reviewed

Others worth a read: Natasha Trethewey’s ‘Memorial Drive,’ Brad Thor’s ‘Near Dark,’ Jennifer Palmieri’s ‘She Proclaims,’ Al Roker’s uplifting book and Catherine Lacey’s ‘Pew.’

SHARE New books by Chicago writer Marisel Vera, UIC prof Adam Goodman, more reviewed
Chicago writer Marisel Vera, author of “The Taste of Sugar.”

Chicago writer Marisel Vera, author of “The Taste of Sugar.”


Here’s what you need to know about some of the latest must-read new books.

‘The Taste of Sugar’ by Marisel Vera

Liveright Publishing, fiction, $26.95

What it’s about: Marisel Vera, a self-described “ChiRican feminist” who grew up in Humboldt Park, follows a poor couple in Puerto Rico who leave the devastated island in the wake of the Spanish-American War and the San Ciriaco Hurricane to seek the hollow promise of American prosperity in Hawaii. Vera, who splits her time between Chicago and Pittsburgh, also wrote the 2011 novel “If I Bring You Roses,” about a Puerto Rican who came to Chicago during the decades-long program Operación Manos a la Obra, or Operation Bootstrap.

The buzz: “As Marisel Vera shows in her enthralling new novel ‘The Taste of Sugar,’ there’s nothing particularly original about President Trump’s abuse of Puerto Rico,” the Washington Post writes. It lauds Vera’s heavy use of Spanish words and phrases for “conveying the rich linguistic culture of this place” and calls her novel “a masterful work of historical fiction” and “a kind of Latino ‘Grapes of Wrath.’ ”

‘The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants’ by Adam Goodman

Princeton University Press, nonfiction, $29.95

What it’s about: However you feel about the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies, author Adam Goodman makes it clear the United States has a long history of anti-immigrant practices. Goodman teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he’s an assistant professor of history and Latin American and Latino studies.

The buzz: Goodman “describes a nation that has for more than a century discriminated against Mexican immigrants” that often has relied on their supposedly voluntary agreement to be deported rather than be detained when suspected of being in the United States without proper documentation, The New York Times writes.

Natasha Trethewey’s “Memorial Drive.”

Natasha Trethewey’s “Memorial Drive.”


‘Memorial Drive’ by Natasha Trethewey

Ecco, nonfiction, $27.99

What it’s about: Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and former U.S. poet laureate, tries to make sense of her mother’s brutal murder by her stepfather in this elegiac memoir.

The buzz: USA Today calls it a “gorgeous exploration of all the wounds that never heal.”

‘Near Dark’ by Brad Thor

Atria Books, fiction, $28.99

What it’s about: Brad Thor, the Chicago thriller writer who’s a regular on best-seller lists, is back in “Near Dark” with his 20th book featuring former Navy SEAL Scott Harvath, who is uncharacteristically on the skids and has a bounty on his head.

The buzz: “Not since Ian Fleming rendered James Bond a mere shell of himself in the wake of ‘From Russia, With Love’ has an author pushed an icon to such depths, made even more fun by watching Harvath’s sudden return to action to thwart a vast international cabal bent on realigning world power,” the Providence Journal writes, saying “Near Dark” is “not to be missed.”

‘She Proclaims: Our Declaration of Independence from a Man’s World’ by Jennifer Palmieri

Grand Central Publishing, nonfiction, $26

What it’s about: Jennifer Palmier, who was communications director for President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, offers a manifesto for American women to kick patriarchy to the curb in a feminist call to action.

The buzz: “A provocatively progressive declaration,” Kirkus Reviews writes.

‘You Look So Much Better in Person’ by Al Roker

Hachette Go, nonfiction, $30

What it’s about: The popular “Today” show co-host shares lessons learned over a long and successful broadcasting career in a charming memoir that will inspire readers.

The buzz: Publishers Weekly calls it perfect for “anyone in need of a quick pick-me-up.”

‘Pew’ by Catherine Lacey

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, fiction, $26

What it’s about: An unnamed person with no identifiable gender or race is found sleeping on a church pew in a small religious town in the American South, and the strange visitor throws the town into a frenzy.

The buzz: “An ambitious, powerful fable of identity and belief,” Publishers Weekly writes.

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