Attacus Atlas & Other Inventions: Number 1 Fan

Aloha! This week we are supposed to talk about the authors we fangirl over. I have a rather long list of writers across a wide range of genres. Instead of going on and on for a rather long time I will compile my Top 10 favorite authors and books, as of this week. These are the books I go to when I’m bored, and I want to immerse myself in a complete and flawless world: (descriptions from Indiebound) These are books that are jewels of language and story. Mahalo!

  1. Sandra CisnerosThe House on Mango Street: the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros’ masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. 
  2. Claudia RankineCitizen: Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
  3. Mary RobisonWhy Did I Ever? Three husbands have left her. I.R.S. agents are whamming on her door. And her beloved cat has gone missing. She’s back and forth between Melanie, her secluded Southern town, and L.A., where she has a weakening grasp on her job as a script doctor. Having been sacked by most of the studios and convinced that her dealings with Hollywood have fractured her personality, Money Breton talks to herself nonstop. She glues and hammers and paints every item in her place. She forges loving inscriptions in all her books. Through it all, there is her darling puzzling daughter who lives close by but seems ever beyond reach, and her son, the damaged victim of a violent crime under police protection in New York. While both her children seem to be losing all their battles, Money tries for ways and reasons to keep battling.
  4. Maggie NelsonBluets Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color . . .A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of vision and love, as refracted through the color blue. With Bluets, Maggie Nelson has entered the pantheon of brilliant lyric essayists.
  5. Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniLeaving Yuba City Groups of interlinked poems divided into six sections are peopled by many of the same characters and explore varying themes. Here, Divakaruni is particularly interested in how different art forms can influence and inspire each other. One section, entitled Indian Miniatures, is based on and named after a series of paintings by Francesco Clemente. Another, called Moving Pictures, is based on Indian films, including Mira Nair’s “Salaam Bombay” and Satyajit Ray’s “Ghare Baire.” Photographs by Raghubir Singh inspired the section entitled Rajasthani. The trials and tribulations of growing up and immigration are also considered here and, as with all of Divakaruni’s writing, these poems deal with the experience of women and their struggle to find identities for themselves.
  6. Donna TarttThe Secret History Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.
  7. Michael OndaatjeThe English Patient traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of World War II. The nurse Hana, exhausted by death, obsessively tends to her last surviving patient. Caravaggio, the thief, tries to reimagine who he is, now that his hands are hopelessly maimed. The Indian sapper Kip searches for hidden bombs in a landscape where nothing is safe but himself. And at the center of his labyrinth lies the English patient, nameless and hideously burned, a man who is both a riddle and a provocation to his companions—and whose memories of suffering, rescue, and betrayal illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning.
  8. Jesmyn WardSalvage the Bones A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn’t show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save. Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; she’s fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull’s new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting.
  9. Arundhuti RoyThe God of Small Things is equal parts powerful family saga, forbidden love story, and piercing political drama. The seven-year-old twins Estha and Rahel see their world shaken irrevocably by the arrival of their beautiful young cousin, Sophie. It is an event that will lead to an illicit liaison and tragedies accidental and intentional, exposing “big things [that] lurk unsaid” in a country drifting dangerously toward unrest. Lush, lyrical, and unnerving, The God of Small Things is an award-winning landmark that started for its author an esteemed career of fiction and political commentary that continues unabated.
  10. Maxine Hong KingstonThe Woman Warrior is an entirely new form—an exhilarating blend of autobiography and mythology, of world and self, of hot rage and cool analysis. First published in 1976, it has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American.
    As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.” The fierce and wily women warriors of her mother’s tales clash jarringly with the harsh reality of female oppression out of which they come. Kingston’s sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own. A warrior of words, she forges fractured myths and memories into an incandescent whole, achieving a new understanding of her family’s past and her own present.
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Devi Laskar

Poet, photographer, soccer mom, VONA & TheOpEdProject alum, Columbia MFA, former reporter, debut novelist!