Humanities Texas will host its twelfth annual Holiday Book Fair at the historic Byrne-Reed House in Austin on Saturday, December 10, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Twenty-three Texas authors will visit with the public and sign copies of their latest books, which Humanities Texas will offer for purchase at a discounted price. Available titles include works of fiction and nonfiction, with selections for both adult and young readers.

This year's authors include:
Teresa Palomo Acosta • Chris Barton • Sarah Bird • H. W. Brands • Edward Carey • Adrianna Cuevas • Steven L. Davis and Sam L. Pfiester • Xelena González • Stephen Harrigan • John Kerr • Millie Kerr • Annie Montgomery Labatt • Alison Macor • Elizabeth McCracken • Carmen Oliver • Domino Renee Perez • Roger Reeves • Jeremi Suri • Don Tate • Bill Wright • Jenny Tinghui Zhang • Jennifer Ziegler.

All proceeds benefit Texas libraries.

Street parking can be found in the neighborhood surrounding the Byrne-Reed House. Coffee and bake sale treats will be available. Invite your friends!

Friends of Humanities Texas receive an additional 25% percent discount on Holiday Book Fair purchases!

Tejanaland: A Writing Life in Four Acts

Teresa Palomo Acosta

This collection by Teresa Palomo Acosta—poet, historian, author, and activist—spans three decades of her writing, from 1988 through 2018. The collection is divided into four parts: poems, essays, a children's story, and plays. Each work addresses cultural, historical, political, and gender realities that she experienced from her childhood to the present.

The plays, set in the Central Texas Blackland Prairies where Acosta was raised, provide a unique Latina vision of memory, identity, and experience and are a vital contribution to Chicana feminist thought. The essays focus on Acosta's literary heroes Jovita González de Mireles, Sara Estela Ramírez, and Elena Zamora O'Shea, important writers who contributed significantly to Tejana literature and to Texas letters. The children's story, "Colchas, Colchitas," is based on Acosta's most notable poem, "My Mother Pieced Quilts," which pays homage to her mother and the many women of her generation who employed needles and thread, creating both practical and symbolic artifacts.

Teresa Palomo Acosta. Tejanaland: A Writing Life in Four Acts (Texas A&M University Press, 2021).

Moving Forward: From Space-Age Rides to Civil Rights Sit-Ins with Airman Alton Yates

Chris Barton

Meet activist Alton Yates, an Air Force veteran who dedicated his life to propelling America forward—from space travel to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond—in this inspiring nonfiction picture book.

As a child growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, Alton Yates watched Black veterans return home from fighting for their country, only to have that country turn its back on them. After Alton joined the Air Force and risked his life to make spacecraft and airplane flight safer, he returned home to the same Jim Crow laws. Alton now had a new mission: to make a stand against Jim Crow.

Chris Barton. Moving Forward: From Space-Age Rides to Civil Rights Sit-Ins with Airman Alton Yates (Beach Lane Books, 2022).

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier: A Novel

Sarah Bird

Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird's Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes. July 3, 1932. Shivering and in shock, Evie Grace Devlin watches the Starlite Palace burn into the sea and wonders how she became a person who would cause a man to kill himself. She'd come to Galveston to escape a dark past in vaudeville and become a good person, a nurse. When that dream is cruelly thwarted, Evie is swept into the alien world of dance marathons. All that she has been denied—a family, a purpose, even love—waits for her there in the place she dreads most: the spotlight.

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweeping novel that brings to spectacular life the enthralling worlds of both dance marathons and the family-run empire of vice that was Galveston in the 1930s. Unforgettable characters tell a story that is still deeply resonant today as America learns what Evie learns, that there truly isn't anything this country can't do when we do it together. That indomitable spirit powers a story that is a testament to the deep well of resilience in us all that allows us to not only survive the hardest of hard times, but to find joy, friends, and even family, in them.

Sarah Bird. Last Dance on the Starlight Pier: A Novel (St. Martin's Press, 2022).

The Last Campaign: Sherman, Geronimo, and the War for America

H. W. Brands

Bestselling historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist H. W. Brands follows the lives of General William Tecumseh Sherman and Apache war leader Geronimo to tell the story of the Indian Wars and the final fight for control of the American continent.

William Tecumseh Sherman and Geronimo were keen strategists and bold soldiers, ruthless with their enemies. Over the course of the 1870s and 1880s, these two war chiefs would confront each other in the final battle for what the American West would be: a sparsely settled, wild home where Indian tribes could thrive, or a more densely populated extension of the America to the east of the Mississippi.

The Last Campaign is a powerful retelling of a turning point in the making of our nation and a searing elegy for a way of life that is gone.

H. W. Brands. The Last Campaign: Sherman, Geronimo, and the War for America (Doubleday, 2022).

Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution

H. W. Brands

From bestselling historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist H. W. Brands comes a gripping, page-turning narrative of the American Revolution that shows it to be more than a fight against the British: it was also a violent battle among neighbors forced to choose sides, Loyalist or Patriot.

What causes people to forsake their country and take arms against it? What prompts their neighbors, hardly distinguishable in station or success, to defend that country against the rebels? That is the question Brands answers in his powerful new history of the American Revolution.

After the Revolution, the Patriots were cast as heroes and founding fathers while the Loyalists were relegated to bit parts best forgotten. Our First Civil War reminds us that before America could win its revolution against Britain, the Patriots had to win a bitter civil war against family, neighbors, and friends.

H. W. Brands. Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution (Doubleday, 2021).

Plagues and Pencils: A Year of Pandemic Sketches

Edward Carey

In March 2020, as lockdowns were imposed around the world, author and illustrator Edward Carey raced home to Austin, Texas. The next day, he published on social media a sketch of "A Very Determined Young Man." The day after, he posted another drawing. One year and 150 Tombow B pencil stubs later, he was still drawing.

Carey reaches into history and fiction to escape grim reality through flights of vivid imagination—until events demand the drawings "look straight on." Breonna Taylor, the Brontë sisters, John Lewis, King Lear, and even the portraits that mark the progress of the year for the Very Determined Young Man combine into a remarkable document of the pandemic and its politics. For Carey, though, trapped inside a home he loves, these portraits are something more, a way to chart time, an artist's way of creating connection in isolation. With an introduction by Max Porter, this exceptional collection from the acclaimed author of Little marks a year of a man trapped with his pencil, determined to find solace amid uncertainty.

Edward Carey. Plagues and Pencils: A Year of Pandemic Sketches (University of Texas Press, 2022).

Cuba in My Pocket

Adrianna Cuevas

When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro's power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba's family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father's clarinet and the smell of his mother's lavender perfume.

Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?

Adrianna Cuevas. Cuba in My Pocket (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021).

The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez

Adrianna Cuevas

In this magical middle-grade debut novel from Adrianna Cuevas, a Cuban American boy must use his secret ability to communicate with animals to save the inhabitants of his town when they are threatened by a tule vieja, a witch that transforms into animals.

All Nestor Lopez wants is to live in one place for more than a few months and have dinner with his dad. When he and his mother move to a new town to live with his grandmother after his dad's latest deployment, Nestor plans to lay low. He definitely doesn't want anyone to find out his deepest secret: that he can talk to animals.

But when the animals in his new town start disappearing, Nestor's grandmother becomes the prime suspect after she is spotted in the woods where they were last seen. As Nestor investigates the source of the disappearances, he learns that they are being seized by a tule vieja—a witch who can absorb an animal's powers by biting it during a solar eclipse. And the next eclipse is just around the corner . . .

Adrianna Cuevas. The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020).

Viva Texas Rivers!: Adventures, Misadventures, and Glimpses of Nirvana along Our Storied Waterways

Steven L. Davis and Sam L. Pfiester

More than the lifeblood of our natural world, Texas rivers have nourished the human spirit for as long as people have gathered on their banks. Many of Texas's leading writers have had their hearts captured by a river, and they have created sparkling accounts of the waterways they love. Now, editors Steven L. Davis and Sam L. Pfiester have assembled the best of those works into a revelatory collection of diverse literary voices.

Ranging from the desert canyonlands of the Rio Grande to the swampy Big Thicket, from crystal clear Hill Country streams to the Red River's treacherous quicksand, Viva Texas Rivers! showcases many classic writings along with brand new essays written for this volume. The literary nonfiction is complemented by flashes of poetry that brilliantly reflect these curving ribbons of light.

Authoritative and expertly edited, Viva Texas Rivers! offers shimmering accounts of hidden paradises, as well as searing exposés of abuse and despoliation. Yet even in the bleakest times, as these writers have found, Texas rivers can bestow a sacred grace —and unexpected redemption.

Steven L. Davis and Sam L. Pfiester. Viva Texas Rivers!: Adventures, Misadventures, and Glimpses of Nirvana along Our Storied Waterways (Texas A&M University Press, 2022).

Where Wonder Grows

Xelena Gonzáles

When Grandma walks to her special garden, her granddaughters know to follow her there. Grandma invites the girls to explore her collection of treasures—magical rocks, crystals, seashells, and meteorites—to see what wonders they reveal. "They are alive with wisdom," Grandma says. As her granddaughters look closely, the treasures spark the girls' imaginations. They find stories in the strength of rocks shaped by volcanoes, the cleansing power of beautiful crystals, the mystery of the sea that houses shells and shapes the environment, and the long journey meteorites took to find their way to Earth. This is the power of Grandma's special garden, where wonder grows and stories blossom.

Xelena Gonzáles. Where Wonder Grows (Cinco Puntos Press, 2021).

The Leopard is Loose: A Novel

Stephen Harrigan

The fragile 1952 post-war tranquility of a young boy's world explodes one summer day when a leopard escapes from the Oklahoma City Zoo, throwing all the local residents into dangerous excitement, in this evocative story of a child's confrontation of his deepest fears.

For Grady McClarty, an ever-watchful but bewildered five-year-old boy, World War II is only a troubling, ungraspable event that occurred before he was born. But he feels its effects all around him. He and his older brother Danny are fatherless, and their mother, Bethie, is still grieving for her fight-pilot husband. Most of all, Grady senses it in his two uncles: young combat veterans determined to step into a fatherhood role for their nephews, even as they struggle with the psychological scars they carry from the war.

When news breaks that a leopard has escaped from the Oklahoma City Zoo, the playthings and imagined fears of Grady's childhood begin to give way to real-world terrors, most imminent the dangerous jungle cat itself. The Leopard is Loose is a stunning encapsulation of America in the 1950s and a moving portrait of a boy's struggle to find his place in the world.

Stephen Harrigan. The Leopard is Loose: A Novel (Knopf, 2022).

Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas

Stephen Harrigan

Winner, 2020 Philosophical Society of Texas Nonfiction Prize
The story of Texas is the story of struggle and triumph in a land of extremes. It is a story of drought and flood, invasion and war, boom and bust, and the myriad peoples who, over centuries of conflict, gave rise to a place that has helped shape the identity of the United States and the destiny of the world.

"I couldn't believe Texas was real," the painter Georgia O'Keeffe remembered of her first encounter with the Lone Star State. It was, for her, "the same big wonderful thing that oceans and the highest mountains are."

Big Wonderful Thing invites us to walk in the footsteps of ancient as well as modern people along the path of Texas's evolution. Blending action and atmosphere with impeccable research, New York Times bestselling author Stephen Harrigan brings to life with novelistic immediacy the generations of driven men and women who shaped Texas, including Spanish explorers, American filibusters, Comanche warriors, wildcatters, Tejano activists, and spellbinding artists—all of them taking their part in the creation of a place that became not just a nation, not just a state, but an indelible idea.

Stephen Harrigan. Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas (University of Texas Press, 2019).

Always Faithful

John Kerr

As the story opens, John Reynolds, a young marine officer in New Zealand, is recuperating in a navy hospital in Auckland after being wounded on Guadalcanal. When he recovers, he rejoins his battalion at the sprawling Marine encampment just north of Wellington. Visiting the city on a weekend pass, he meets Grace Lucas, a local girl, on a streetcar. This is the beginning of a love affair, which culminates in the couple's secret engagement weeks before the marines sail from Wellington en route to the amphibious assault on the Japanese garrison on the island of Tarawa.

In one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war, Reynolds is severely wounded and evacuated to the navy hospital in Honolulu, where he's left in a coma. Grace, having received no news, fears the worst. When she discovers she's pregnant, she's banished by her parents to a farm in the countryside. Amid the horrors of combat, Always Faithful delivers a heartwarming story of faithfulness and redemption.

John Kerr. Always Faithful (Texas Christian University Press, 2022).

Wilder: How Rewilding is Transforming Conservation and Changing the World

Millie Kerr

Wilder takes readers on a global rewilding journey, exploring innovative and eye-opening projects led by a diverse group of passionate conservationists.

In this timely and exciting contribution to a wider conversation about our relationship with the natural world, wildlife journalist Millie Kerr takes readers on a global journey of discovery. She considers the practicalities and possibilities of ecological restoration around the world, while exploring first-hand some of the most ambitious undertakings occurring today, many of which involve species reintroductions in the Global South. Wilder details the return of jaguars to an Argentinian national park, the first-ever pangolin reintroduction project in South Africa, and the ways in which giant tortoises are aiding the recovery of ecosystems throughout the Galápagos Islands, among many others.

At an urgent moment in the international fight against biodiversity loss, Wilder's message is one of innovation and optimism. By focusing on conservation success stories and showing that there are bands of determined conservationists fighting for a better future, Wilder inspires us all to become part of the solution.

Millie Kerr. Wilder: How Rewilding is Transforming Conservation and Changing the World (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2022).

Art History 101 . . . Without the Exams: Looking Closely at Objects from the History of Art

Annie Montgomery Labatt

Why is something a masterpiece? Art History 101 . . . Without the Exams is about revisiting famous works of art that we may have studied in an art history class or seen in a textbook. Each discussion delves into one great masterpiece and asks the questions that help us understand how it has shaped history. What is the piece about? How did the original owner look at this piece? Where was it originally placed? Why is it in this museum now? How did it get famous? Examing works ranging from the sixth-century mosaics of Ravenna and the painted bulls of Altamira, Spain, dated 12,500 BCE, to an incense burner from twelfth-century Seljuk Iran, frescoes from a Late Byzantine funerary chapel, and masterworks by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Monet, and Sargent, this book shows readers how to look closely. It welcomes us to the joy of art history—but without the papers, notes, and exams.

Annie Montgomery Labatt. Art History 101 . . . Without the Exams: Looking Closely at Objects from the History of Art (Trinity University Press, 2022).

Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation

Alison Macor

Released in 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives became an immediate success. Life magazine called it "the first big, good movie of the post-war era" to tackle the "veterans problem." Today we call that problem PTSD, but in the initial aftermath of World War II, the modern language of war trauma did not exist. The film earned producer Samuel Goldwyn his only Best Picture Academy Award. It offered the injured director, William Wyler, a triumphant post-war return to Hollywood. And for Harold Russell, a double amputee who costarred with Fredric March and Dana Andrews, the film provided a surprising second act.

Award-winning author Alison Macor illuminates the film's journey from script to screen and describes how it moved audiences worldwide. General Omar Bradley believed The Best Years of Our Lives would help "the American people to build an even better democracy" following the war, and the movie inspired broad reflection on reintegrating the walking wounded. But the film's nuanced critique of American ideals also made it a target, and the picture and its creators were swept up in the anti-Communist witch hunts of the late 1940s. In this authoritative history, Macor chronicles the making and meaning of a film that changed America.

Alison Macor. Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation (University of Texas Press, 2022).

The Hero of this Book: A Novel

Elizabeth McCracken

A New Yorker Best Book of 2022
Ten months after her mother's death, the narrator of The Hero of This Book takes a trip to London. The city was a favorite of her mother's, and as the narrator wanders the streets, she finds herself reflecting on her mother's life and their relationship. Thoughts of the past meld with questions of the future: back in New England, the family home is now up for sale, its considerable contents already winnowed.

The woman, a writer, recalls all that made her complicated mother extraordinary—her brilliant wit, her generosity, her unbelievable obstinacy, her sheer will in seizing life despite physical difficulties—and finds herself wondering how her mother had endured. Even though she wants to respect her mother's nearly pathological sense of privacy, the woman must come to terms with whether making a chronicle of this remarkable life constitutes an act of love or betrayal.

The Hero of This Book is a searing examination of grief and renewal and of a deeply felt relationship between a child and her parents. What begins as a question of filial devotion ultimately becomes a lesson in what it means to write. At once comic and heartbreaking, with prose that delights at every turn, this is a novel of such piercing love and tenderness that we are reminded that art is what remains when all else falls away.

Elizabeth McCracken. The Hero of this Book: A Novel (Ecco, 2022).

Building an Orchestra of Hope: How Favio Chavez Taught Children to Make Music from Trash

Carmen Oliver

In Cateura, Paraguay, a town built on a landfill, music teacher Favio Chavez longed to help the families living and working amid the hills of trash. How could he help them find hope for the future? Favio started giving music lessons to Cateura's children, but soon he encountered a serious problem. He had more students than instruments! But Favio had a strange and wonderful idea: what if this recyclers' town had its own recycled orchestra? Favio and Colá, a brilliant local carpenter, began to experiment with transforming garbage into wonder. Old glue canisters became violins; paint cans became violas; drainpipes became flutes and saxophones. With repurposed instruments in their hands, the children of Cateura could fill their community—and the world—with the sounds of a better tomorrow.

Based on an incredible true story, Building an Orchestra of Hope offers an unforgettable picture of human dignity reclaimed from unexpected sources. Carmen Oliver's inviting words and Luisa Uribe's dynamic illustrations create a stirring tribute to creativity, resilience, and the transformative nature of hope.

Carmen Oliver. Building an Orchestra of Hope: How Favio Chavez Taught Children to Make Music from Trash (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2022).

The Twilight Library

Carmen Oliver

There's a special place deep in the heart of the wilderness where the creatures of the night gather—where everyone wants to go—where the Night Librarian spins a tale of mystery.

Fireflies, nighthawks, bats, mice, and brightly colored beetles make themselves comfortable on the forest floor as the Night Librarian transports them into the land of imagination with her silver silken stories. From feasts of tangy berries and salty seeds, to honeycomb hives and whisker kisses, to the scent of evergreens, crashing waves of blue oceans, and echoing canyons, Carmen Oliver's lyrical text and Miren Asiain Lora's ethereal art is sure to evoke your senses and send you into dreamland to spin stories of your own.

Carmen Oliver. The Twilight Library (NorthSouth Books, 2022).

Fatherhood in the Borderlands: A Daughter's Slow Approach

Domino Renee Perez

As a young girl growing up in Houston, Texas, in the 1980s, Domino Perez spent her free time either devouring books or watching films—and thinking, always thinking, about the media she consumed. The meaningful connections between these media and how we learn form the basis of Perez's "slow" research approach to race, class, and gender in the borderlands. Part cultural history, part literary criticism, part memoir, Fatherhood in the Borderlands takes an incisive look at the value of creative inquiry while it examines the nuanced portrayal of Mexican American fathers in literature and film.

Perez reveals a shifting tension in the literal and figurative borderlands of popular narratives and shows how form, genre, and subject work to determine the roles Mexican American fathers are allowed to occupy. She also calls our attention to the cultural landscape that has allowed such a racialized representation of Mexican American fathers to continue, unopposed, for so many years. Fatherhood in the Borderlands brings readers right to the intersection of the white cultural mainstream in the United States and Mexican American cultural productions, carefully considering the legibility and illegibility of Brown fathers in contemporary media.

Domino Renee Perez. Fatherhood in the Borderlands: A Daughter's Slow Approach (University of Texas Press, 2022).

Best Barbarian: Poems

Roger Reeves

Finalist, 2022 National Book Award for Poetry
In his brilliant, expansive second volume, Whiting Award-winning poet Roger Reeves probes the apocalypses and raptures of humanity—climate change, anti-Black racism, familial and erotic love, ecstasy, and loss. The poems in Best Barbarian roam across the literary and social landscape, from Beowulf's Grendel to the jazz musician Alice Coltrane, from reckoning with immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border to thinking through the fraught beauty of the moon on a summer night after the police have killed a Black man.

Daring and formally elegant, Best Barbarian asks the reader: "Who has not been an entryway shuddering in the wind / Of another's want, a rose nailed to some dark longing and bled?" Reeves extends his inquiry into the work of writers who have come before, conversing with—and sometimes contradicting—Walt Whitman, James Baldwin, Sappho, Dante, and Aimé Césaire, among others. Expanding the tradition of poetry to reach from Gilgamesh and the Aeneid to Drake and Beyoncé, Reeves adds his voice to a long song that seeks to address itself "only to freedom."

Best Barbarian asks the reader to stay close as it plunges into catastrophe and finds surprising moments of joy and intimacy. This fearless, musical, and oracular collection announces Roger Reeves as an essential voice in American poetry.

Roger Reeves. Best Barbarian: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2022).

Civil War by Other Means: America's Long and Unfinished Fight for Democracy

Jeremi Suri

The Civil War may have ended on the battlefield, but the fight for equality never did. In 1865, the Confederacy was comprehensively defeated, its economy shattered, its leaders in exile or in jail. Yet in the years that followed, Lincoln's vision of a genuinely united country never took root.

In Civil War by Other Means, Jeremi Suri shows how resistance to a more equal Union began immediately after Appomattox . From the first post-war riots to the return of Confederate exiles, to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, to the highly contested and consequential election of 1876, Suri explores the conflicts and questions Americans wrestled with as competing visions of democracy, race, and freedom came to a vicious breaking point.

What emerges is a vivid and at times unsettling portrait of a country striving to rebuild itself but unable to compromise on or adhere to the most basic democratic tenets. What should have been a moment of national renewal was ultimately wasted, with reverberations still felt today. The recent shocks to American democracy are rooted in this forgotten, urgent history.

Jeremi Suri. Civil War by Other Means: America's Long and Unfinished Fight for Democracy (PublicAffairs, 2022).

Roto and Roy: Helicopter Heroes

Don Tate

When a dangerous forest fire burns out of control, helicopter Roto and pilot Roy are ready to fly to the rescue! They're braver than brave, tougher than tough, and nothing will stop this firefighting crew from completing their mission.

From Sherri Duskey Rinker, bestselling author of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series, and award-winning illustrator Don Tate, this action-packed series starter will have kids cheering for two awesome new heroes—and imagining how they might save the day themselves!

Sherri Duskey Rinker and Don Tate. Roto and Roy: Helicopter Heroes (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022).

Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes

Don Tate

Young Ernie Barnes wasn't like other boys his age. Bullied for being shy, overweight, and uninterested in sports like boys were "supposed" to be, he instead took refuge in his sketchbook, in vibrant colors, bold brushstrokes, and flowing lines. But growing up in a poor, Black neighborhood during the 1930s, opportunities to learn about art were rare, and art museums were off-limits because of segregation laws. Discouraged and tired of being teased, Ernie joined the school football team. Although reluctant at first, he would soon become a star.

Don Tate. Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes (Abrams, 2021).

A Bridge from Darkness to Light: Thirteen Young Photographers Explore Their Afghanistan

Bill Wright

In 2006, Texas businessman, historian, and photographer Bill Wright was encouraged—though not officially invited—by the U.S. Department of State to teach a class in digital photography to young Afghans in Kabul. The course was sponsored by an Afghan Non-Governmental Organization, ASCHIANA, which helps to support "working children and their families." This book records Wright's experiences and celebrates the creativity he saw flourish at the heart of a war zone.

Bill Wright. A Bridge from Darkness to Light: Thirteen Young Photographers Explore Their Afghanistan (Texas Christian University Press, 2021).

Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel

Jenny Tinghui Zhang

A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
A dazzling debut novel set against the backdrop of the Chinese Exclusion Act about a Chinese girl fighting to claim her place in the 1880s American West.

Daiyu never wanted to be like the tragic heroine for whom she was named, revered for her beauty and cursed with heartbreak. But when she is kidnapped and smuggled across an ocean from China to America, Daiyu must relinquish the home and future she imagined for herself. Over the years that follow, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive. From a calligraphy school, to a San Francisco brothel, to a shop tucked into the Idaho mountains, we follow Daiyu on a desperate quest to outrun the tragedy that chases her. As anti-Chinese sentiment sweeps across the country in a wave of unimaginable violence, Daiyu must draw on each of the selves she has been—including the ones she most wants to leave behind—in order to finally claim her own name and story.

At once a literary tour de force and a groundbreaking work of historical fiction, Four Treasures of the Sky announces Jenny Tinghui Zhang as an indelible new voice. Steeped in untold history and Chinese folklore, this novel is a spellbinding feat.

Jenny Tinghui Zhang. Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel (Flatiron Books, 2022).


Jennifer Ziegler

William Wyatt Orser, a socially awkward middle schooler, is a wordsmith who, much to his annoyance, acquired the ironically ungrammatical nickname of "Worser." Worser grew up with his mom, a professor of rhetoric and an introvert just like him, in a comfortable routine that involved reading aloud in the evenings, criticizing the grammar of others, ignoring the shabby mess of their house, and suffering the bare minimum of social interactions with others. But recently all that has changed. His mom had a stroke that left her nonverbal, and his Aunt Iris has moved in with her cats, art projects, loud music, and even louder clothes. Home for Worser is no longer a refuge from the unsympathetic world at school that it has been all his life.

Feeling lost, lonely, and overwhelmed, Worser searches for a new sanctuary and ends up finding the Literary Club—a group of kids from school who share his love of words and meet in a used bookstore— something he never dreamed existed outside of his home. Even more surprising to Worser is that the key to making friends is sharing the thing he holds dearest: his Masterwork, the epic word notebook that he has been adding entries to for years.

Jennifer Ziegler. Worser (Margaret Ferguson Books, 2022).