Isabel Allende is the author of 10 works of fiction, four memoirs, and three young adult novels, which have been translated into more than 27 languages with more than 57 million copies sold. Two of her novels were made into major motion pictures. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Allende is the 2012 recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Allende lives in California.
About Maya's Notebook: Abandoned and neglected by her parents, 19-year-old Maya Vidal has grown up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandparents. Her grandmother, Nidia, affectionately known as Nini, is a force of nature — willful and outspoken, unconventionally wise with a mystical streak, and fiercely protective — a woman whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973 with her young son, Maya's father. Maya's grandfather Popo, an African-American astronomer and professor, is a gentle man whose solid, comforting presence helps calm the turbulence of Maya's adolescence. When Popo dies of cancer, Maya goes completely off the rails. With her girlfriends — a tight circle known as the vampires — she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime, a downward spiral that eventually bottoms out in Las Vegas.
Junot Diaz's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories. His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was greeted with rapturous reviews, including Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times calling it "a book that decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices." It won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Diaz's debut story collection, Drown, published 11 years prior to Oscar Wao, was also met with unprecedented acclaim; it became a national bestseller, won numerous awards, and has since grown into a landmark of contemporary literature. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Díaz lives in New York City and is a professor of creative writing at MIT.
About This is How You Lose Her: The stories in This Is How You Lose Her, by turns hilarious and devastating, raucous and tender, lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weaknesses of our all-too-human hearts. They capture the heat of new passion, the recklessness with which we betray what we most treasure, and the torture we go through -- "the begging, the crawling over glass, the crying" -- to try to mend what we've broken beyond repair. They recall the echoes that intimacy leaves behind, even where we thought we did not care. They teach us the catechism of affections: that the faithlessness of the fathers is visited upon the children; that what we do unto our exes is inevitably done in turn unto us; and that loving thy neighbor as thyself is a commandment more safely honored on platonic than erotic terms. Most of all, these stories remind us that the habit of passion always triumphs over experience, and that "love, when it hits us for real, has a half-life of forever."
Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker, senior legal analyst at CNN, and the authors of such bestsellers as Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election, A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President, and The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.
About The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court: From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation. The ideological war crescendoed during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases were on the Court's docket —- most crucially, the challenge to Obama's controversial health care reform legislation that was upheld, with Roberts writing the opinion.
No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning bestseller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for president in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.
Dr. Abraham Verghese is a professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. Abraham Verghese's first novel, Cutting for Stone, has been on several prestigious bestseller lists, including the Independent Booksellers, the New York Times and USA Today for years. He is also the author of My Own Country, a 1994 NBCC Finalist and a Time Best Book of the Year, and The Tennis Partner, a New York Times Notable Book. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he has published essays and short stories that have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Granta, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.
About Cutting for Stone: (From Publisher's Weekly) Lauded for his sensitive memoir (My Own Country) about his time as a doctor in eastern Tennessee at the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Verghese turns his formidable talents to fiction, mining his own life and experiences in a magnificent, sweeping novel that moves from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York City over decades and generations.
Sister Mary Joseph Praise, a devout young nun, leaves the south Indian state of Kerala in 1947 for a missionary post in Yemen. During the arduous sea voyage, she saves the life of an English doctor bound for Ethiopia, Thomas Stone, who becomes a key player in her destiny when they meet up again at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa. Seven years later, Sister Praise dies birthing twin boys: Shiva and Marion, the latter narrating his own and his brother's long, dramatic, biblical story set against the backdrop of political turmoil in Ethiopia, the life of the hospital compound in which they grow up and the love story of their adopted parents, both doctors at Missing. The boys become doctors as well, and Verghese's weaving of the practice of medicine into the narrative is fascinating even as the story bobs and weaves with the power and coincidences of the best 19th-century novel.
Erin Morgenstern is a writer and multimedia artist who describes all her work as being "fairy tales in one way or another." She lives in Massachusetts.
About The Night Circus: (From The Star Tribune's review of the hardcover edition) Ladies and Gentlemen! Step right up, and prepare to be enchanted by Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, The Night Circus. The circus itself needs no barkers to bring crowds clamoring to its iron gates, replete as it is with magic and mystery, but I'm doing my part to shine a spotlight on the striped tents of Morgenstern's imagination.
Arriving with no fixed schedule and operating only from nightfall until dawn, Le Cirque des Reves moves from city to city and across continents as the 1890s give way to the 1900s. Its power is drawn from two magicians who have been forced by their mentors into a battle neither understands. As their whimsical and increasingly interwoven attractions draw patrons out to spend the night hours wandering the tents, it dawns on Celia and Marco that their competition has a very dark side. Complicating things, they have wrapped enigmatic contortionist Tsukiko, kitten-taming twins Poppet and Widget, and other circus folk into their illusions. The stakes for the loser are tightrope-walker high, and the fallout immense. ... If the preamble -- so aptly titled "Anticipation" -- doesn't make you sit right down on the floor of your library or bookstore to see what Morgenstern conjures up next, you may not be the right reader for this novel. I'll wager, however, that you will fall quickly under her spell.
Kerri Miller is the host of The Daily Circuit on Minnesota Public Radio. She joined Minnesota Public Radio in June 2004 as host of Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning and Talking Volumes. She has been a radio and television news reporter since 1981. She has won numerous awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists National Achievement Award, Minnesota Broadcasters Award, the Associated Press Award and a Gracie award from the Association of Women in Radio and Television
Talking Volumes, a partnership of Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune, in collaboration with The Loft Literary Center, is a winner of the prestigious Gracie Allen Award. Talking Volumes was noted for its superior quality in writing, production and programming. The program spotlights books with feature articles, live broadcasts with the author, in-person readings and discussions, and more.