The year is coming to an end, but great new books from local writers are still hitting the shelves. You may know some of these folks – maybe even personally (I mean, it is Rhode Island) – while others are just breaking out and worth discovering. Enjoy our last list for 2021 and stop by your favorite local bookseller to get your copies.
Rhode Island poet laureate Tina Cane has brought us Alma Presses Play, a gorgeous novel-in-verse about a young woman coming into her own in 1980s New York. For those who grew up during this time, there is nostalgia aplenty, particularly in the music Alma listens to on her Walkman as she tries to make sense of the world. And for anyone who survived the trials and tribulations of adolescence, Cane’s work will strike a chord and touch your heart.
There are endless stories to tell in the smallest state and Michael Fine delivers some of his finest in the new collection Rhode Island Stories. The author presents a rich tapestry of life that reflects the diversity and wonder that many of us are fortunate to experience every day. In the end, we appreciate that, although our lives may seem radically different on the surface, we are all more alike than we realize – and there is always more goodness in human nature than we expect.
Laird Hunt’s latest work, Zorrie, was recently nominated for the National Book Award in fiction. The slender novel captures the trials and tribulations of Zorrie Underwood as she faces the obstacles of rural life during the Depression. A literary arts professor at Brown, Hunt draws on the histories of the many women – including his own grandmother – who faced tremendous challenges throughout this era yet endured in the end.
In Madder: A Memoir in Weeds, horticulturist Marco Wilkinson reaches back to his childhood in Rhode Island to explore the roots of his family both literally and figuratively. In an interesting take on autobiography, Wilkinson weaves stories of his own upbringing with his awareness of plant life, particularly uncommon, lesser-known weeds. With a unique poetic style, he navigates his own personal history, from his Uruguayan heritage to his identity as a gay man.
For the little readers in your house, there’s a fun new book to get them ready for bed each night. Combining clever rhymes and adorable illustrations, Janelle Steuer’s The Bedtime Dance entertains kids while encouraging a routine that will have them burning end-of-the-day energy so they’re ready for a good night’s rest. The Bedtime Dance is a great way to help your kids develop healthy sleeping patterns for life.
Anticipation is building for the release of Correctional: A Memoir by Providence-based author Ravi Shankar. Through his own experiences with institutional racism, Shankar shines a light on some of the major issues impacting America today, including class, justice, and privilege. In making himself vulnerable by sharing his powerful story, he provides an opportunity for all of us to think about how we can play a role in making our world a safer, more equitable place for everyone to live and thrive.
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