Jonathan Eig’s hefty biography on Martin Luther King Jr., “King: A Life” (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $35), is longlisted for the prize in nonfiction. In researching the book, Eig conducted nearly 200 interviews and accessed declassified documents from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The Washington Post called the book “the most compelling account of King’s life in a generation.”
Also of local note, “Tripas” by Brandon Som, which has been longlisted for the prize in poetry, was co-published by the University of Georgia Press and the Georgia Review. The poems explore the poet’s heritage through his Mexican American grandmother and his Chinese American father.
“I’m excited that this nomination will draw more and more people to Brandon’s powerful poems,” said Gerald Maa, director and editor of the Georgia Review, in a statement announcing the recognition.
Southern history buffs may be interested in two other longlisted books. “Night Watch” (Knopf, $28) by Jayne Anne Phillips is an historical novel about how civilians, veterans, freed people and runaways managed to navigate the post-Civil War South. “I Saw Death Coming” (Bloomsbury, $30) by Kidada E. Williams is a nonfiction examination of Reconstruction from the perspective of African Americans.
Five finalists in each category will be announced on Oct. 3. To see a full list of nominees in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature, go to nationalbook.org.
Book tours galore. A Cappella Books has announced an impressive slate of author events this fall. The Writers at the Wrecking Bar series presents Ron Rash in conversation with local author Jessica Handler on Sept. 27. Rash will be talking about his new novel “The Caretaker” (Doubleday, $28), about a love triangle set in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1950s. Actress Kerry Washington, of “Scandal” and “Little Fires Everywhere” fame, will appear at the Tabernacle Sept. 30 to discuss her memoir, “Thicker Than Water” (Little Brown Spark, $28), that explores her traumatic childhood.
Prompted by the 2019 presidential impeachment proceedings, historian Heather Cox Richardson started a popular daily newsletter that analyzes the news and puts it into historical context in a way that makes it easy to digest. It was a formula that resonated to the tune of 2 million subscribers. Her Oct. 10 event at the Carter Center, where she’ll discuss her new book “Democracy Awakening” (Penguin Random House, $30), is sold out, but tickets to the livestream are available.
For the paperback release of his 2022 short story collection, “Liberation Day” (Random House Trade Paperback, $17), Booker Prize winner George Saunders will be in conversation with local author Kate Sweeney Oct. 23 at The Garden Club at Wild Heaven Brewery. And musician Thurston Moore, founding member of Sonic Youth, will discuss his memoir “Sonic Life” (Doubleday, $35) with music journalist and author Chad Radford Oct. 30 at The Plaza Theatre. Thurston also will perform a short set, and Stuart Swezey’s documentary on California’s ‘80s punk scene, “Desolation Center,” will be screened.
For ticket prices, locations and times, go to acappellabooks.com or call 404-681-5128.
Credit: University of Mississippi Press
Credit: University of Mississippi Press
New book alerts. Atlanta writer Aisha Saeed has made quite name for herself as a New York Times bestselling author of fiction for teens and young adults. Her new book, “Forty Words for Love” (Kokila, $18.99), charts the budding romance between teenage friends Yasmine and Rafay, but there’s a lot more going on in this novel set in the magical land of Moonlight Bay. Xenophobia, the plight of refugees and the importance of protecting the environmental are just some of the relatable issues that play out in this heartfelt tale.
Atlanta author Mark Beaver, who wrote the 2016 memoir “Suburban Gospel” about growing up in the Bible Belt in the ‘80s, returns with a very different book about religion. “The Ballad of Karla Faye Tucker” (University Press of Mississippi, $22) is a nonfiction account of a woman convicted of murdering two people with a pickax in 1983 Houston. When her execution date approached 14 years later, high-profile evangelicals including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell tried to stop her execution because of her religious conversion in prison. The book combines elements of true crime reporting, social commentary and memoir.
Suzanne Van Atten is a book critic and contributing editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You can contact her at email@example.com.