Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Jesmyn Ward (M.F.A. ’05) became the first woman to win two National Book Awards when this novel was awarded the prize in 2017. Set in contemporary Mississippi, it tells the story of a 13-year-old boy whose drug-addicted mother takes him and his toddler sister on a harrowing road trip to retrieve their white father from prison.
(Above) Author photo by Beowulf Sheehan
The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe: A History by Rita Chin
In 2010, the leaders of Germany, Britain, and France each delared that multiculturalism had failed in their countries. Since then, a growing consensus in Europe has voiced similar views. LSA historian Rita Chin explores the meaning of these ominous proclamations, and outlines the touchstones of modern European multiculturalism—from the urgent need for laborers after World War II to the contemporary question of French girls wearing headscarves to school.
(Above) Author photo by Leisa Thompson
Ornithologist Richard Prum (Ph.D. 1989) argues that nature’s splendor is arbitrary, not adaptive. Colors, songs, dances, and ornamentation don’t necessarily signal good genes: They evolve because animals like them. “It should come as no surprise that science does such a poor job of explaining pleasure because it’s left the actual experience of pleasure out of the equation,” writes Prum.
(Above) Author photo by Russell Kaye
Where Now: New and Selected Poems by Laura Kasischke
Poet and novelist Laura Kasischke (A.B. 1984, M.F.A. 1987), the Allan Seager Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature, applies the full scope of her probing vision to the complicated realities of childhood, family, and loss in this long-awaited volume of selected poems.
(Above) Images courtesy of Copper Canyon Press
Punishing Disease: HIV and the Criminalization of Sickness by Trevor Hoppe
Even before doctors had settled on a name for the deadly new disease, the cry went out that people with HIV—most of them stigmatized minorities—should be punished. In his thoroughly researched, engaging new book, sociologist Trevor Hoppe (U-M '11, Ph.D. ‘14) explains how and why U.S. policymakers, courts, public health officials, and police adopted punitive measures to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. He explores the consequences of penalizing people who have the disease and asks what ailments will be next? With moves in state legislatures to extend HIV-specific criminal laws to include diseases like hepatitis and meningitis, the question is more than academic.
(Above) Author photo by Mark Scmidt
In our rush to buy organic, eat local, sample exotic cuisines, and wash everything down with fine wines, we’re not just fostering good nutrition and sustainable agriculture, argues LSA alumna (M.A. '10, Ph.D. '11) and lecturer S. Margot Finn—we’re participating in the ever-widening gap between rich and poor. Finn’s illuminating new book draws parallels between our current frenzy for “good food” and the gourmet dinners, international dishes, and slimming diets of the Gilded Age of the late-19th century, an era notorious for its class divisions. Finn’s compelling look at today’s food culture may just change the way you think—and eat.
(Above) Author photo by Linda Wan
The Book of Wonders by Douglas Trevor
Books—ghostly and material—turn up throughout the nine stories in this smart and nimble collection by Douglas Trevor, Director, Helen Zell Writers’ Program. Trevor’s characters, often academics, crave the kinds of big changes their middle-aged lives aren’t keyed to allow—until Trevor puts them on a collision course with disruptive forces: a boyfriend who seems to come straight from Greek mythology, a lost Shakespearean couplet, a sudden kidnapping on a visit to Detroit.
(Above) Images courtesy of SixOneSeven Books
Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century by Hendrik Meijer
In this first comprehensive biography of U.S. Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Hendrik Meijer (A.B. 1973) shows how the Republican from Michigan built and nurtured the mid-century bipartisan consensus that led to the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, and NATO.
(Above) Author photo by Wende Alexander Clark
Contrary to popular belief, slavery was not exclusive to the American South. As Tiya Miles, Mary Henrietta Graham Distinguished University Professor of African American Women's History, reveals in this paradigm-shifting book, slavery also lay at the heart of the Midwest’s iconic city, Detroit. Painstakingly assembling fragments of the historical record, Miles recounts the experience of both native and African Americans in the frontier outpost of colonial Detroit.
(Above) Images courtesy of the New Press
Are Black Men Doomed? by Alford A. Young Jr.
Three decades in the making, LSA sociologist Alford A. Young Jr.’s frank and unsettling book examines the circumstance of too many African American men who struggle for dignity in a society that labels them a “problem.” Young argues that if prospects for African American men are to improve, society must come to terms with its narrow and incomplete vision and learn to hear, understand, and value these men.
(Above) Images courtesy of Alford A. Young Jr.
The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel
Professor of English Language and Literature Howard Markel tells the epic story of John and Will Kellogg, two brothers whose lifelong competition and enmity helped revolutionize American medicine and diet. Physician John Harvey Kellogg founded the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium, whose patrons included Mary Todd Lincoln and Henry Ford. Will Kellogg launched the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company. Together, they changed a nation.
(Above) Author photo by Joyce Ravid
Neruda: The Poet’s Calling by Mark Eisner
Writer, translator, and documentary filmmaker Mark Eisner (A.B. 1995) brings the great Latin American poet Pablo Neruda to life in this new biography. Eisner provides crucial contextual material to show how Neruda’s poetry reflects the historical, cultural, and political circumstances of his times.