Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer and author of The Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh in the Twenty-First Century, talks about how fiction can impart a true sense of place, and the poetry of former Pennsylvania State Poet Samuel Hazo.
Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants
Fortunes have changed for the King family, descendants of Hawaiian royalty and one of the state’s largest landowners. Matthew King’s daughters—Scottie, a feisty ten-year-old, and Alex, a seventeen-year-old recovering drug addict—are out of control, and their charismatic, thrill-seeking mother, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat-racing accident. She will soon be taken off life support. As Matt gathers his wife’s friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation is made worse by the sudden discovery that there’s one person who hasn’t been told: the man with whom Joanie had been having an affair.
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukœ-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love.
-Penguin Group USA
Samuel Hazo, Like a Man Gone Mad
Hazo, National Book Award finalist and former State Poet of Pennsylvania, transports the reader with poems of both lament and celebration in his sensual new collection. Like a Man Gone Mad features much of the spare yet precise imagery of his earlier work. Searing portraits, a deft use of allegorical language, and a wry sense of humor are all signatures of Hazo’s unique voice.
-Syracuse University Press