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12 Clever Rabbits to Ring in the Lunar New Year

The Year of the Rabbit is upon us, and to mark the occasion we’ve pulled from our hat a dozen solid recommendations for books by "Rabbit" authors.
Tertulia •
Jan 20th, 2023

1. Zadie Smith

Fresh out of Cambridge University, Zadie Smith burst onto the scene at the ripe age of 24 with her smash debut White Teeth, the critically-adored story of two unlikely friends navigating family, tradition and modern existence in turn-of-millennium London.

Writing for The Guardian, novelist Yara Rodrigues Fowler said:

"There is no novel like White Teeth...the riotous love child of The Buddha in Suburbia and Middlemarch – full of plot twists and turns, and a world away from today’s autofiction debuts."

2. Charles Yu

A former corporate lawyer turned TV writer who penned numerous episodes of HBO’s hit Westworld, Yu also found time to publish the popular sci-fi novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe in 2010. But the LA-born novelist really broke through with Interior Chinatown, an inventive clapback at Asian American stereotypes that won the National Book Award in 2020. 

YA novelist E. Lockhart included this book on her Tertulia holiday gift list and had this to say about it:

"This Hollywood novel is also a portrait of life in Chinatown rooming houses; it’s a portrait of America; it’s written as a screenplay. It’s the smartest book, wonderfully entertaining while also excruciating and enlightening."

3. Michelle Obama

The “Go High” First Lady redefined the role during the Obama presidency, and her post-White House accomplishments have only elevated her icon status. With a hugely successful 2018 memoir already to her name, now she’s back with even more reflections and new insights for navigating our current, oft-confounding times.

Comedian and late night host Conan O'Brien spoke about the book on his podcast and said this about the former First Lady's latest offering:

"I loved [this] book. It really spoke to me... and it's going to resonate with a lot of people, because we're all struggling with these things."

4. Brian Greene

You may know the groundbreaking theoretical physicist and Pulitzer-nominated bestselling author from his PBS specials — or maybe just his cameos on the Big Bang Theory. In this book, the acclaimed Columbia University professor shares his latest takes on our deepest cosmic concerns, from the Big Bang through the end of time.

For the New Scientist, journalist Gege Li wrote:

"[Greene] weaves a rich tapestry of theories and perspectives as he navigates space and time... Of course, Until the End of Time can’t provide all the answers. But you would be hard-pressed to find another book that seeks to do so with the same clarity and meaning."

5. Ann Patchett

Though the prolific Nashville-bred writer got her start in nonfiction, Patchett’s work truly took flight with a series of well-received novels about the intercolliding lives of seemingly disparate characters. But it was her wildly original South American hostage drama Bel Canto about kidnappers and opera stars that landed her the coveted PEN/Faulkner Award and Women’s Prize for Fiction.

In an interview with Elle, novelist Elizabeth McCracken said this about Patchett's 2001 classic:

"I was the first person to ever read Bel Canto ... I read it in manuscript while sitting up at a bar ... All of her books are astonishing, of course, but I still remember the feeling of being entirely pinned to my barstool, not knowing what would come next, or how she did it."

6. Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino flicks have always been a cinephile’s dream — like going to film school but with snappier dialogue. Last year, the celebrated director gifted us his love of movies in written form with a unique book that blends his incisive film criticism with personal stories recounted in his inimitable voice. For Airmail, writer and filmmaker Spike Carter called the book:

"A one-of-a-kind and compulsively readable volume of film criticism as self-portrait. After all, what better way for Tarantino, who has lived and breathed 35-mm. his whole life, to tell his personal story than via moviegoing?"

7. Qian Julie Wang

Wang’s family fled Chinese persecution and arrived in the United States when she was just 5 years old. The writer and civil rights lawyer got rave reviews after sharing her vibrant memories of growing up as an undocumented immigrant amid sweatshops and uncertainty in NYC’s Chinatown.

On her TODAY talk show, Jenna Bush Hager said this about her book club selection:

"When it comes to widely-debated issues such as immigration, it is one thing to listen to pundits speak their opinions, but it is another to read the real details of a little girl's experience growing up as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S."

8. Saul Bellow

The Chicago-bred icon won practically every major writing award — from the Pulitzer to the Nobel Prize. Bellow made his first burst into the American canon with The Adventures of Augie March, the story of a fatherless Jewish boy growing up in Depression era Chicago, which won the first of his three National Book Awards in Fiction.

In an interview with PBS, legendary novelist Salman Rushdie, had much praise for Bellow's work:

"The point about Bellow is that he's enormously enjoyable and a great storyteller... There's hardly a paragraph in which there isn't something that explodes off the page and makes you think again."

9. Ross Macdonald

Southern California noir master Ross Macdonald — born Kenneth Millar — was beloved for his hardboiled private eye, Lew Archer, the literary offspring of Chandler’s legendary gumshoe Phillip Marlowe, and whose name was inspired by Macdonald’s own astrological sign, Sagittarius the Archer. There are 18 Archer novels in the acclaimed series, so start at the beginning with the 1949 classic The Moving Target.

Author and journalist, J. Kingston Pierce wrote about the book for CrimeReads, saying:

"All these decades later, The Moving Target still impresses with its vivid prose and carefully rendered characters, plus its plotting mix of greed, broken trust, and festering disillusionments."

10. Michael Chabon

By his early 30s, Chabon was already a well-regarded novelist with multiple hits under his belt when he embarked on his most daring achievement and finally broke from his introspective, first-person narrative. The result was The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a historical epic about two brilliant cousins set in WWII era Brooklyn that was adored by critics and snagged the 2001 Pulitzer prize.

In an interview with the LA Review of Books, prolific novelist and comic book writer, Alex Segura, had lots of praise for this award-winning tittle:

"With that book, it felt like I was finally being seen. As someone who read a lot of novels and crime novels but also someone who was passionate about comics, to have Chabon merge the two things — I mean, it’s not a traditional crime novel but there’s crime, and it’s not really a potboiler but it’s still really engaging."

11. Joy Harjo

The multi-talented Oklahoman was the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate, and her words have even orbited Jupiter thanks to a NASA vessel inscribed with one of her poems. In her latest memoir, the poet, musician, playwright, author, and activist reflects on her trailblazing career and delves into the myriad influences that have informed her eclectic work.

In a review of Poet Warrior for NPR, author and critic Gabino Iglesias wrote:

"Joy Harjo is more than a poet, painter, and musician; she is a spiritual being aware of the meaning of everything we see as well as the things around us that are usually invisible. And Poet Warrior is an invitation to open our eyes and see it all with her."

12. Damon Galgut

Already a published novelist at the tender age of seventeen, the prodigious Galgut was nominated for the Booker award for The Good Doctor (2003) and In a Strange Room (2010). But the third time was the charm for the South African novelist, who finally bagged the Booker for his sweeping family saga The Promise in 2021.

MacArthur "Genius" and National Book Award-winning novelist Andrea Barrett called the latter book:

"A rare example of a novel melding savage political and historical insight with brilliant literary structure. He captures a great deal about the last few decades in South Africa through the changes in one family."

Tertulia wishes you peace, happiness and luck in the new year!

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