Wednesday, August 5th, 2020
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This week at Unabridged...
Our book of the week is one of the most anticipated releases of the year, check out Luster by Raven Leilani! The 2020 Hugo Award winners have been announced, and we have new featured books for the month of August. We're also supporting two new organizations this month, we still have signed copies of some great new releases (while they last), plus a lovely piece remembering Toni Morrison by Jennifer Baker. Scroll down for all this and more!
And don't forget to sign up for our virtual event with Dan Mathews, author of Like Crazy, and Alan Cumming a week from tonight! Click here to sign up for the event!
Then mark your calendar for a conversation with Tomasz Jedrowski, author of Swimming in the Dark, and Christopher Bollen, author of A Beautiful Crime later this month. Click here to sign up for the event!
Keep reading for new releases, staff reviews, and a link to get registered to vote by mail!
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As part of our yearlong commitment to promoting the work of activists & organizations engaged in the fight against systemic racism, social injustice, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, we are contributing to Color of Change and Southern Poverty Law Center this month. Click above to read more about each of these organizations and how they work to achieve meaningful and lasting change in our community, then make your own contribution! Click here to read our full statement.
Book of the Week:
by Raven Leilani
Raven Leilani’s debut novel is the darkly comic, brutally honest story of Edie, a Black 23-year-old aspiring artist working as a low-wage editorial coordinator in a NewYork City publishing house. Prone to caustic self-reflection and toxic relationships with the (often older) men she “dates,” Edie’s life becomes even more complicated when, strapped for cash and with few better options, she moves in with her white, married boyfriend, his white wife, and their Black adopted daughter. In prose as lush, sexy, and searing as the book’s cover, Luster examines the complex terrain of interracial relationships, how women interact under patriarchy, and asks what we owe those who occupy identities similar to out own. Leilani is an exciting and strikingly original new talent, and Luster is a knockout. -Chad
Just released, take a look at these new titles and click each for more info!
Hardcover Book(s) of the Month
The Death of Vivek Oji
by Akwaeke Emezi
What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son's body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family's struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek's closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens--and Osita struggles to understand Vivek's escalating crisis--the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations--a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.
Hardcover Book(s) of the Month
by Isabel Wilkerson
"As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power--which groups have it and which do not."
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.
Paperback Book of the Month
Memory Police
by Yoko Ogawa
This dystopian fable, first published in Japan in 1994 and translated into English for the first time, is a startlingly relevant reflection of our zeitgeist, a metaphor for both state control and the unstoppable effects of climate change. On an unknown island, objects- and the collective memory of them- start to disappear at the hands of the mysterious and brutal Memory Police. The incremental disappearance of the world has been normalized, and most of the fatalist characters in Ogawa's novel accept this world with disturbing passivity, while the protagonists who try to fight against it find themselves on the brink of existential collapse. With a keen sense of dread, Ogawa explores the nature of truth, the elusiveness of memories, state surveillance, safety versus captivity, and the construction of the self. The stark and elegantly understated quality of this tale gives it a disquieting eeriness, and the surreal, poetic imagery creates a lulling melancholy that is persistent throughout. If this book were a movie, it wouldn't be the big summer sci-fi blockbuster. Instead, it would be the indie arthouse film, and what it lacks in big flashy scenes it makes up for with a quiet devastation that will haunt you. Shane recommends! 
Paperback Book of the Month
by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's ultra-timely essays (most written in just the past few months) are the perfect antidote to the horrible newscycle. In Intimations, Zadie Smith analyzes these last few months during the pandemic, not to document, but instead to unearth the complicated feelings that this situation has provoked. With lively and candid prose, Smith offers these 6 intimate "slices of life" vignettes, in which she offers meditations on time, privilege, and suffering, and scathing critiques of police brutality and economic inequality, two systemic injustices magnified by COVID-19 (the essay Postscript: Contempt As a Virus may be the most powerful one in the book). There is profound insight here, but also vulnerability; Intimations perfectly captures the strangeness, absurdity, terror, anger and uncertainty of these times.Smith doesn't give concrete answers- she knows it is too soon for that. What she does offer the reader is her inquisitive mind and the sheer beauty of her words. Shane recommends!
This Is How You Lose the Time War
by Amal El-Mohtar
 After winning the Nebula Award for best novella earlier this year, This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone EGOTed (HNnnned?) on 8/1 by winning the Hugo Award as well. A tight, yet lushiously written story of two post-human futures who send agents into divergent past timelines, so they could determine which of them will come to pass. Two of those agents – Red and Blue - begin a game of cat and mouse, foiling each other’s missions throughout the timelines, and leaving creatively hidden messages. Soon the game becomes something more, and these immortal beings realize that the time war might not be the most dangerous thing out there.
This is How You Lose the Time War is a brilliant mixture of queer romance and dazzling depiction of post-human utopia/dystopia (depending on where one stands). The epistolary style of writing (the two authors each “played” one of the characters) makes the story deeply immersive, and the visuals are so strong, that even in its short 200 pages, the novella feels like a full-fledged epic. If you enjoy time-travel, flamboyant depictions of post-humanity, and flirting through letters, this one is a must-read. - Simeon
Here are a few of this week's most popular books at Unabridged, click here to see the full list of this Week's Bestsellers, and keep an eye out for new suggestions each week!
Click through below to browse more of our favorite books!
We're updating our website with pages dedicated to some of our favorite sections of the store so you can browse from home! Bestsellers, award winners, bundles of books to keep you reading - click below to browse!
Virtual Event: Like Crazy
Dan Mathews in conversation with Alan Cumming Wednesday, August 12th at 7pm
A hilarious and heartbreaking memoir about an outlandish mother and son on an odyssey of self-discovery, and the rag-tag community that rallied to help them as the mother entered the final phase of her life.
Dan Mathews will discuss his new book Like Crazy: Life with My Mother and Her Invisible Friends on Wednesday, August 12th at 7 pm Central Time. The author will be joined in conversation by Alan Cumming. Click here to sign up for the event!
Virtual Event:
Swimming in the Dark
Tomasz Jedrowski in conversation with Christopher Bollen
Sunday, August 23rd at 2pm
Set in early 1980s Poland against the violent decline of Communism, a tender and passionate story of first love between two young men who eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide—a stunningly poetic and heartrending literary debut for fans of André Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.
Tomasz Jedrowski will discuss his book Swimming in the Dark on Sunday, August 23rd at 2 pm Central Time. The author will be joined in conversation by Christopher Bollen. Click here to sign up for the event!
Virtual Event:
World of Wonders
Aimee Nezhukumatathil in conversation with Ruben Quesada
Monday, October 5th at 7 pm
From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction--a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil will discuss her new book World of Wonders on Monday, October 5th at 7 pm Central Time. The author will be joined in conversation by Ruben Quesada. Click here to sign up for the event!
Remember that there is no membership or sign up required to attend our meetings - just pick up your copy of the book in the shop, and come ready for friendly discussion!
Fiction Book Club
Tuesday, August 11th, 2020
Signed Copies available now-
Thanks for stopping by, Ling Ma!
Severance was surprising and wonderful.  What I initially took to be a sardonic commentary on our ethically questionable consumerist culture turned out to actually be quite a moving story about family and connection. Not to worry: the sardonic commentary is still there, and it's spot-on. This dystopian novel follows Candace Chen and a group of other survivors of Shen Fever, an illness that wipes out most of the population, rendering people as zombies -- but not the brain-eating kind. Those afflicted continue to go about their daily activities, completely mindlessly, until they die. The novel moves back and forth in time, between the dystopian present of Shen Fever and the equally dystopian past of global capitalism. Throughout, Ma paints a compelling and poignant depiction of connection, alienation, loss, and love. Her characters -- for all the inhumanity of their setting -- are always wholly human. Audie loved this book, so get a copy and join our discussion!
Join our Fiction Book Club (on Zoom!) in a monthly meeting to discuss a wide array of literary fiction. For more info, click here!
New Book Club Starts in August!
Winers Book Club
Tuesday, August 18th, 2020
*A club where no one takes themself too seriously*
Join us in reading fun and exciting YA and New Adult books every 3rd Tuesday of the month. Grab a glass of your favorite wine and be ready to laugh, chat, and discuss the new new! Email, or sign up for email updates!
The Winers Book Club meets for the first time on Tuesday, August 18th at 7:30 pm to chat about Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid!
Join our Winers Book Club (on Zoom!) in a monthly discussion of literature through a queer lens. For more info, click here!
Queer Book Club
Tuesday, August 25th, 2020
In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys.
Join our Queer Book Club (on Zoom!) in a monthly discussion of literature through a queer lens. For more info, click here!
from the shop and around the literary world...
We've updated our
Anti-Racist Reading List and some of the titles that have been sold out are
Please be aware that due to high demand some of these titles are on backorder and may take some time to arrive before pickup! For any questions, email us at
Signed Copies
Available now - while they last!
Plague Years
by Ross A. Slotten, MD
An American Summer
by Alex Kotlowitz
The Skin You Live In
illustrated by
David Csicsko
Illinois Votes 2020!
It is easy. It is safe. Do it.
2020 Hugo Awards Announced!
The Hugo Award is an annual literary award for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year, given at the World Science Fiction Convention and chosen by its members. Congratulations to the 202o winners! See all the winners here!
Best Novel
A Memory Called Empire
by Arkady Martine
Best Novella
This Is How You Lose the Time War
by Amal El-Mohtar
Remembering Toni Morrison
"Toni Morrison Let Us Know We Are More Than the Work We Do" From Jennifer Baker, Read it on ElectricLit!
23 New Books
for your TBR Pile
Katie Yee with a roundup of great new books released this week.
Gift cards are also available on our website! We can mail a gift card to you, to your friends or family, or we can hold it for you here in the shop to be used when we reopen. Click here to get a gift card!
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