The ProsenPeople

Book Cover of the Week: The End of Days

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Looks of concern and alarm were exchanged around the office when managing editor Becca spontaneously exclaimed, "Oh good, the End of Days has arrived!" Then we saw what she meant.

The End of Days is an award-winning bestseller by German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, newly translated into English by Susan Bernofsky and released in the last couple weeks from New Directions Publishing. The novel is comprised of five distinct stories following the same protagonist at different stages of her life in twentieth century Europe, each leading to a different untimely death.

The book cover designed by Rodrigo Corral for this English edition is genius: the vintage green cloth binding gives the impression that the volume is from long ago, discovered on a grandparent's bookshelf or in dusty shop of yellowing, old titles; the stark letters and floral embossing catches the reader's eye, obscuring at first glance that they take their shape around foretelling tombstone. Chilling, enticing, and beautiful, The End of Days's design unquestionably suits the contents of the book.

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Book Cover of the Week: Notorious RBG

Thursday, November 05, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Yesterday, a book released last week hit The New York Times's best sellers list:

If you are not already familiar with the blog/meme Notorious RBG, regardless of your political leanings, check it out, it's hilarious. The creators selected some of their best content and interspersed the images and thoughtful essays on how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg changed the world—and won the internet, much to the feisty octogenarian's own amusement. If you're looking for a gift for anyone with an interest in American politics and social history, feminist heroes (and ladies who rock, in general), or a sense of humor, I think you just found it.

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Book Cover of the Week: The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God

Thursday, October 29, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Fourteen years after its original publication in English translation, Etgar Keret's seminal collection of short stories was reissued earlier this month—with a brilliant book cover:

The works collected in The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God and Other Stories were some of my earliest encounters with Keret's incomparable craft, and I'm thrilled to see them revisited—and for some readers discovered anew! Don't miss The Bus.

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Book Cover of the Week: The Hours Count

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Don't you kinda wish all books about the Rosenbergs looked like this?

I'll be honest, Historical Fiction does not always appeal to me—but now I'm thinking that might have something to do with the template book covers of that genre. The design for The Hours Count, however, is lovely: simultaneously stark and subdued, and utterly compelling. Jillian Cantor's latest novel is told from the fictionalized perspective of Julius and Ethel's neighbor—the young mother with whom Ethel left her two sons the day she was arrested on charges of treason in 1950. Reviewers are loving the book, which comes out today from Riverhead Books!

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Book Cover of the Week: Wait

Monday, September 21, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner C. K. Williams succumbed to multiple melanoma yesterday at the age of 78. One of America's greatest poets of the turn of the twenty-first century, Williams built his renown on deep social consciousness and environmental awareness. Composing, critiquing, and translating into his seventies, Williams remained constant in the moral dedication espoused throughout his work— including his last collection of poetry, published only four years ago:

The titular poem to Wait: Poems was published by the Poetry Foundation in 2009 and can be read in their online archives, but it is only a glimpse of the strength of the 2011 National Jewish Book Award-winning collection—or Williams's oeuvre as a whole.

Do I need forgiveness for my depression? My being depressed like a Jew?
All right then: how Jewish am I? What portion of who I am is a Jew?
I don't want vague definitions, qualifications, here on the bridge of the Jew.

I want certainty, science: everything you are, do, think; think, do, are,
is precisely twenty-two percent Jewish. Or six-and-a-half. Some nice prime.
Your suffering is Jewish. Your resistant, resilient pleasure in living, too,

can be tracked to some Jew on some bridge on page something or other
in some city, some village, some shtetl, some festering shvitz of a slum,
with Jews with black hats or not, on their undershirts fringes or not.

— from "Jew on Bridge" by C. K. Williams, Wait: Poems, 2011

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Book Cover of the Week: Street Smart

Wednesday, September 09, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Were you aware that over the past decade Americans have been driving fewer total miles each year—a pattern that hasn't trended since 1945?

Former NYC Traffic Commissioner Samuel I. Schwartz—a.k.a. "Gridlock Sam"—presents the millennial revolution of the urban landscape and the rise of the pedestrian, the cyclist, and the public transportation commuter. And what a phenomenal book cover to go with it! A grid in white over blue, green, and grey, with tiny silhouettes of every means of getting around the American city, from buses and taxis to pedicabs and tandem bicycles to strolling or jogging solo or in company. Color me compelled!

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Book Cover of the Week: Women in Clothes

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

I just came across the book covers for the U.S. and U.K. editions of Women in Clothes at the same time and I honestly cannot decide which I like better, they're both so lovely:

A compilation of thoughts, photographs, interviews, and illustrations from the likes of "Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton & 639 Others"—including Cindy Sherman, Kim Gordon, Kalpona Akter, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Tavi Gevinson, Miranda July, Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham, and Molly Ringwald—Women in Clothes began as a survey project of 50 questions prompting women of all ages, nationalities, religious affiliations, class, and ethnicities to consider how apparel influences women's lives day-to-day. This one's another exception to the "never judge a book by its cover" rule: subdued yet striking, alluring and unusual inside and out.

Plus, I submit the following soundbite from one of the interviews within, a dialogue between preschool teacher Dina Goldstein and her son, radio host Jonathan Goldstein:

JONATHAN: Okay, what is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?

DINA: Well, I'm Jewish. How has that influenced me? I guess I dress like other Jewish women. But I don't like those well-kept women. They all look sort of alike, and they all have makeup. They wear their hair in a ponytail, their clothes are just so, and their shoes are the latest... I can't be that type.

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Book Cover of the Week: The Secret of Chabad

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Veteran Chabad emissary to Yorba Linda and sitting president of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County and Long Beach, California Rabbi David Eliezrie offers an intriguing insight into one of the most successful and influential movements of contemporary Judaism:

The Secret of Chabad: Inside the World's Most Successful Jewish Movement illuminates the key elements of Chabad Lubavitch's modern phenomenon. Drawing on interviews with shluchim and lead figures the world over, historical trajectories and events, and the author's personal experience, this book has caught the attention and admiration of prominent (non-Lubavitch) Jewish voices like Dennis Prager and Alan Dershowitz. The Secret of Chabad comes out September 2015 from The Toby Press; we're already fascinated by the book cover alone!

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Book Cover of the Week: Piece of Mind

Thursday, August 20, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Whenever W. W. Norton & Co. picks up a work of fiction, you know it's going to be good—especially when they give it a book cover like this one:

Piece of Mind: A Novel tells the story of Lucy, a twenty-seven-year-old challenged by the ins and outs of daily life and human relationships since suffering a brain injury in early childhood. Forced out into the world—and into her brother's college living space in New York City—upon the unexpected death of her father, Lucy must learn who she is and find strength she never knew she possessed. Norton recommends this February 2016 novel for readers who love The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or wish to discover "one of the most endearing and heroic characters of contemporary fiction."

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Book Cover of the Week: Enchanted Islands

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

It's been a great couple weeks for historical fiction, from Janis Cooke Newman's list of Top 5 Historical Novels for summer 2015 (and the release of her own historical fiction novel, A Master Plan for Rescue) to Alice Hoffman's newest book, The Marriage of Opposites—you can read the entire first chapter here!—and now the release of the book cover for Allison Amend's forthcoming work of historical fiction, Enchanted Islands:

The novel takes place in the Galapagos, exploring the world of military intelligence and espionage before World War II. It's due out in May 2016. So far that's all we know!

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