Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat, Knopf '13, $25.95, 238 pages, ASIN #030727179X.
In the nearly two decades since Breath, Eyes, Memory put Edwidge Danticat on the literary map, her novels recounting the desperate poverty in Haiti has brought that beleaguered nation into international consciousness and won numerous plaudits for this gifted author. In her latest, a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing. For those unacquainted with Danticat's prose, the following brief excerpt imparts just a hint of the author's wrenching style:
"The morning Claire Limye Lanme Faustin turned seven, a freak wave, measuring between 10 and 12 feet high, was seen in the ocean outside of Ville Rose. Claire's father, Nozias, a fisherman, was one of many who saw it in the distance as he walked toward his sloop. He first heard a low rumbling, like that of distant thunder, then saw a wall of water rise from the depths of the ocean, a giant blue-green tongue, trying, it seemed, to lick a pink sky. Just as quickly as it had swelled, the wave cracked. Its barrel collapsed, pummeling a cutter called Fifine, sinking it and Caleb, the sole fisherman onboard.
Nozias ran to the edge of the water, wading in to where the tide reached his knees. Lost now was a good friend, whom Nozias had greeted for years as they walked past each other, before dawn, on their way out to sea. A dozen or so other fishermen were already standing next to Nozias. He looked down the beach at Caleb's shack, where Caleb's wife, Fifine -- Josephine -- had probably returned to bed after seeing him off. Nozias knew from his experience, and could sense it in his bones, that both Caleb and the boat were gone. They might wash up in a day or two, or more likely they never would."
Among the prestigious prizes Edwidge Danticat has won to date are: National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award prizes for Brother, I'm Dying; a National Book Award prize for Krik? Krak!; An American Book Award for The Farming of Bones; and the PEN/Faulkner Award for The Dew Breaker. She lives in Miami.
Necessary Lies -- A Novel by Diane Chamberlain, St. Martin's Press '13, $26.99, 343 pages, ASIN #1250010691.
From the dust jacket:
"It is 1960 in North Carolina and the lives of Ivy Hart and Jane Forrester couldn't be more different. Fifteen-year-old Ivy lives with her family as tenants on a small tobacco farm, but when her parents die, Ivy is left to care for her grandmother, older sister, and nephew. As she struggles with her grandmother's aging, her sister's mental illness, and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.
"When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County's newest social worker, she doesn't realize just how much her help is needed. She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her new husband and with her boss. No one understands why Jane would want to become a caseworker for the Department of Public Health when she could be a housewife and Junior League member. As Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm -- secrets much darker than she would have ever guessed. Soon she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing a life-changing battle.
"Set in a time and place of racial tension and state-mandated sterilizations, Necessary Lies is the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy. Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: How can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it's wrong?"
Author Diane Chamberlain has written 22 novels and lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca.
The Collaboration -- Hollywood's Pact with Hitler by Ben Urwand, Belknap/Harvard '13, $26.95, 326 pages, ASIN #0674724747. Index, notes, no bibliography, b&w images sprinkled through text.
In this stunning narrative, a Junior Fellow at Harvard shares the results of nine years of investigation in archives in Germany and the U.S. leading to interactions between Hollywood studios and the German government in the 1930s. Not a "case of passive indifference or self-censorship," Ben Urwand finds, but an active collaboration. The source materials Urwand publishes include "Hitler's own notes on American movies; the reports of Hitler's representative in LA, who was working directly with the Hollywood studios; scripts of movies that were abandoned or severely cut because of the Nazis' interventions; and evidence that Fox and Paramount produced pro-Nazi newsreels and that MGM invested in German armaments."
Among insights Ben Urwand gained through his research are that:
*"Hitler watched movies every night, and his opinions were always recorded by his adjutants."
*"Paramount and Twentieth-Century Fox made pro-Nazi newsreels in Germany, and MGM financed the production of German armaments."
*"The only Hollywood movie about the persecution of the Jews that was made in this period (the '30s) was the highly offensive The House of Rothschild (Twentieth Century, 1934), which showed the Jews' control of the world through their 'natural cleverness' with money."
*"In June/July 1945, immediately after the War, the Hollywood executives made a tour of Europe to work out how to reestablish their business there, and at the end of the tour they took a trip up the Rhine in Hitler's personal yacht."
Author Ben Urwand is a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard University.