Jonathan Raban’s Father and Son, Annie Ernaux’s The Young Man, and Naomi Klein’s Doppelganger all feature among the best reviewed nonfiction titles of the month

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Jonathan Raban_Father and Son: A Memoir Cover

1. Father and Son: A Memoir by Jonathan Raban

7 Rave • 4 Positive • 2 Mixed

“Offers a final reckoning (Raban died in January this year), less egotistical, more rueful, informed by a catastrophic sense of the damage that can come one’s way. Raban is far too good a writer to make the parallel blunt, but the stroke is his war, and from the perspective of a wheelchair-bound hemiplegic he sees his father differently … A fine achievement, a wide-ranging and compelling account with the author’s hallmarks of intelligence, erudition, humor and honesty.”

–Norma Clarke (Times Literary Supplement)

Ernaux, Annie_The Young Man Cover

2. The Young Man by Annie Ernaux
(Seven Stories Press)

6 Rave • 3 Positive • 1 Mixed
Read an conversation between Annie Ernaux and Yuko Tsushima here

“That Ernaux can do so much—The Young Man tackles love, aging, desire, loss, misogyny, class and death—in such a small space is clearly the hallmark of a writer who has honed her craft to be razor sharp. It cuts to the bone.”

–Jessica Ferri (The Washington Post)

Simon Schama_Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines, and the Health of Nations Cover

3. Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines, and the Health of Nations by Simon Schama

4 Rave • 6 Positive • 1 Mixed
Read an excerpt from Foreign Bodies here

“Eloquent, discursive … Schama wisely avoids reportage, which is still evolving, and leans, instead, into the past, crafting a play in three acts: smallpox, cholera and bubonic plague … Casts familiar and lesser-known figures in a fresh light … Sterling cultural history, but it also reminds us that political concerns mold our choices as future pandemics brew.”

–Hamilton Cain (The Star Tribune)

Sure, I'll Join Your Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest to Belong Anywhere Cover

4. Sure, I’ll Join You Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest to Belong Anywhere by Maria Bamford
(Gallery Books)

6 Rave • 2 Positive

“Some of her misadventures—among them, being committed to a psych ward and accidentally killing a beloved pug — feel like anything but laughing matters. But it’s a testament to Bamford that she’s able to fill these pages with stories that are relatable and consistently hilarious, even when they’re harrowing … This material, and the quirks of its presentation, make the memoir feel like a 270-some-page portal directly into Bamford’s mind. That notion would probably be terrifying to Bamford, who worries frequently on the page that she may be coming across as a massive narcissist. But there’s an authenticity to her words that elevates them into something beyond the category of comedy memoir … Bamford has created a work destined to shine much-needed light on mental illness. Illuminating those serious moments with humor is her true triumph.”

–Zach Ruskin (The Washington Post)

Doppelganger Naomi Klein

5. Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

5 Rave • 3 Positive • 1 Mixed
Listen to an interview with Naomi Klein here

“This story of mistaken identity would on its own be gripping and revealing enough, both as a psychological study and for its explorations of the double in art and history, the disorienting effects of social media, and the queasy feeling of looking into a distorted mirror. But the larger subject of Doppelganger turns out to be a far more complex and consequential confusion: Its guiding question is how so many people have in recent years broken with conventional left-right political affiliations and a shared understanding of reality.”

–Laura Marsh (The New Republic)

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