By Washington Post book critic Ron Charles
As you look for what to read next, here are a few titles I’ve enjoyed recently:
The United States keeps about two million of our fellow Americans in prisons and jails. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah has written a novel so shocking and moving that it might just wake us up to the full dimensions of this tragedy.
“Chain-Gang All-Stars” (Pantheon) is a devastating satire of our penal system and our enthusiasm for violence. The story imagines a world in which prisoners are used as players in a deadly – and lucrative – sporting event called BattleGround.
Can any player survive this contest?
Can any society survive that treats people as we do?
READ AN EXCERPT: “Chain-Gang All-Stars” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Tom Hanks has long been one of the most beloved and talented actors in the country. Now he’s about to become a bestselling novelist, too. His new book is called “The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece” (Knopf).
It’s a love letter to the industry, and a thoroughly charming story about the remarkable interplay of luck and hope, and especially all the hard work that’s goes into bringing an idea to the movie screen.
READ AN EXCERPT: “The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece” by Tom Hanks
“The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece” by Tom Hanks (Knopf), in Hardcover, Large Print, eBook and Audio formats, available May 9 via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound
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April is National Poetry Month, and World Autism Month, and those two subjects come together beautifully in “Story of a Poem” (Unnamed Press), a new memoir by Matthew Zapruder about raising an atypical child.
When Zapruder, a celebrated writer, discovered that his son would lead a very different path in life, suddenly everything about parenting and success and the future had to be radically rethought.
“What is the relation,” Zapruder asks, “between making poems and learning to be the father of this atypical child?”
In his memoir, the answers to those questions are raw and thoughtful, and deeply inspiring.
READ AN EXCERPT: “Story of a Poem” by Matthew Zapruder
I know it’s hard to imagine, but “The Last Animal” (Riverhead Books), by Ramona Ausubel, is like a sweeter, more poignant version of “Jurassic Park.”
It’s about a scientist and her two daughters who get wrapped up in an illegal scheme to re-create a baby woolly mammoth that the world hasn’t seen for about ten thousand years.
This shaggy elephant story is as much about surviving family grief as it is about living in a world doomed by climate change. And yet, “The Last Animal” takes flight with all the improbable buoyancy of a pterodactyl.
READ AN EXCERPT: “The Last Animal” by Ramona Ausubel
For more suggestions on what to read, contact your librarian or local bookseller.
That’s it for the Book Report. I’m Ron Charles. Until next time, read on!
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Produced by Robin Sanders and Roman Feeser.