800 Riverside Drive #5E, New York, NY  10032

Stephen Batchelor
Spiegel & Grau (editor Cindy Spiegel), February 2020
Ms. due December 2018

This is Stephen Batchelor’s quest for the essence of solitude, the elusive state that resides within us.  His journey, told in 32 short chapters reflects on the experiential, the philosophical, the contemplative, and medical realms.  Batchelor travels the life and journals of Montaigne, the paintings of Vermeer, the deep meditative practice of jhana, ceremonies centered upon peyote and ayahuasca, and a lifelong reflection on the meaning of the Buddhism. Is it possible achieve solitude by being alone?  Can one actually clear the mind of thoughts to be truly solitary?  Does the act of writing intrude on a solitary state?  Might it be that to be solitary one must be in the company of others?  Inspiration comes from the Buddhist poem Four Eighths, which Batchelor translated, also told in 32 verses. Resting on a lifetime of contemplation and experience, Batchelor began this pursuit of The Art of Solitude at the close of his sixtieth year.

Stephen Batchelor is the author of numerous classical works of Buddhist thought, including The Faith to Doubt, Buddhism Without Beliefs, Living with the Devil, Verses from the Center, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, A Secular Buddhism, and After Buddhism. He has been ordained as a Buddhist monk, later trained in the Songgwangsa Monastery in South Korea, was co-founder of the Sharpham College for Buddhist Studies and Contemplative Enquiry, and a Guiding Teacher at Gaia House.  He is also a contributing editor to Tricycle Magazine.

Tara Brach
THE RAIN OF COMPASSION: A Mindfulness-Based Practice for Healing Ourselves and Healing Our World
Viking (editor Laura Tisdel), Fall 2019
Ms. due November 2018

Sold to: Rider (UK); Droemer (Germany); Belfond (France)
Options: Kosmos (Holland); Oak Tree (Chinese Complex); Basam Books (Finland); Alfaomega (Spain & Latin America); Bulkwang (Korea); Grup Media Litera SRL (Romania);VEXTA Eood (Bulgaria); Fontana Esotera (Czech Republic)

One of the most loved and trusted mindfulness teachers in America today, Tara Brach, author of the celebrated Radical Acceptance and True Refuge, offers a lifeline for difficult times.  Through the innovative practice of RAIN, a core piece of her teaching, Tara offers a four-step process that can bring forth key elements of mindfulness and self-compassion on the spot.  This book, filled with instances of Tara’s own experience and that of her thousands of students, is a guide to this practice.  The practice of RAIN can change limiting beliefs, uproot old fears, and challenge feelings of unworthiness, allowing for authenticity in ourselves, and in our world.

Tara Brach is the founder of Insight Meditation Center of Washington, DC, one of the largest and most dynamic meditation centers in the US.  Besides being known as the author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge, she is perhaps most famous for her podcasts (for which she receives 1.5 million downloads a month), and was counted by The Wall Street Journal as one of the 10 Best Podcasts for 2016. Her meditation work was featured last year in a Special health section of The New York Times, and she has been featured in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, and The Huffington Post. She has been invited to consult on meditation and mindfulness for clients as wide ranging as the US Senate, Harvard Medical School, The Smithsonian Institute, the Kaiser Foundation, and The New York Times staff. Last year she delivered a keynote address at Dreamforce, the world’s largest tech conference. She is currently collaborating with Jack Kornfield on a mindfulness practice for the workplace—a 15-minute a day course, with clients including Starbucks, Facebook, and Ford.  Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield also conduct online mindfulness teacher trainings, the current class including 1,500 students from 49 countries.

RADICAL ACCEPTANCE: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha
Bantam Books (editor Marnie Cochran), 2003, paperback 2005

Sold to: Droemer (Germany), Kosmos (Holland), Rider (UK), Oak Tree Publishing (Chinese Complex); Basam Books (Finland); Alfaomega (Spain & Latin America); Bulkwang (Korea); BIS SRL (Italy); Grup Media Litera SRL (Romania); Fontana Esotera (Czech Republic); Exmo (Russia); Belfond (France)

Winner of the Books for a Better Life Award for Best Spiritual Book

Tara Brach, clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, brings Buddhism and Western psychology together to uncover how suffering arises from the ‘shadow emotions’ of the psyche. She deals practically and lovingly with the role of compassion in transforming parts of ourselves that we have rejected. Ultimately, this Buddhist approach of embracing the world in all of its emotional messiness, beauty, and mystery is key to pursuing a genuine path of awakening.  This book continues to be a perennial strong seller, steadily increasing in its popularity over the past decade.

John Corbett
PICK UP THE PIECES: Excursions in Seventies Music
University of Chicago Press (editor Susan Bielstein), April 2019
Ms. available

Music critic John Corbett, renowned DownBeat magazine columnist, gives us his own curation of the music of the seventies. In this his year-by-year chronicle, Corbett intersperses recollections of early personal high points, with selections that have evolved with the maturation of time. In this astute and passionate assemblage, Corbett witnesses the musical novelty and fusion of a decade, portraying how its music continues to come of age today in terms of race, gender, and class, with ongoing resonance.

John Corbett is the author most recently of Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium, preceded by A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation; Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein; Microgroove: Forays into Other Music. He is the curator of the Alton Abraham Sun Ra Archive; an excerpt from PICK UP THE PIECES, ‘Sun Ra City,’ appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly.  He is co-owner of Corbett vs. Dempsey art gallery in Chicago. 

Mary Cregan
THE SCAR: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery
W.W. Norton (editor Jill Bialosky), March 2019
Ms. available

Sold to: Lilliput (UK)

THE SCAR is a history – personal, social, and literary – of the experience of depression playing out over a life.  The author’s acute illness surfaced in her 20’s, more than 30 years ago, triggered after she gave birth to a child who died of congenital heart failure.  This is an account of facing an illness never spoken of in her Irish Catholic family, the fright of hospitalization, shock treatment, medication, and the imperfection of recovery.  Powerfully and beautifully told, the author considers her story in the context of a larger history, encompassing what has changed in science, treatment, and social recognition of depression, and what still remains after the scar was formed in the navigation of life.  THE SCAR fits into the market established by Andrew Solomon’s Noonday Demon, Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac, and Kay Redfield Jamison’s Night Falls Fast

Mary Cregan has taught English literature at Barnard College for over 20 years (specializing in the Modern Victorian Novel, Virginia Woolf, and Irish Literature).  Her writing has appeared in The Chronicle for Higher Education, and The Financial Times

  “What makes [this] book stand out is the sheer clarity of the writing, the personal fragility and the wrestling with demons emerging with a kind of grace, a hard-won heroism.”
— Colm Tóibín

  “Cregan makes an entirely original and invaluable contribution to the literature of this illness [of depression] that has cast its mysterious shadow over so many lives”
— Mary Gordon

  “THE SCAR reaches beyond its immediate subject to provide a cultural and historical context for that most mysterious of afflictions, ‘depression’ – or, in more Romantic terms, ‘melancholia’ – making it particularly valuable at the present time.”
— Joyce Carol Oates

Don Cummings
Heliotrope (editor Naomi Rosenblatt), March 2019
Ms. available

Playwright and actor Don Cummings writes the first memoir about Peyronie’s Disease, the condition of having a bent penis, reported to affect at least 5% of the male population.  With unflinching honesty and often hilarious anecdotes, Cummings traces his diagnosis, treatment at Sloan-Kettering, challenges to his masculinity and sexuality, and memories of sexual relations past.  He moves from hope to despair, and ultimately closer to his longtime partner, who is supportive but not always understanding.  Above all, this is a human story of reclamation of this great symbol of fecundity and pleasure.  “And who doesn’t know someone who has a penis?” Cumming asks.

Don Cummings’ essays have been published in literary journals, and he often performs his stories at venues around the US, including Comedy Central’s Sit’N Spin, HBO’s Workspace, Brooklyn Reading Works, Tell It!  His plays have been produced on both coasts: Fat of the Land, American Air, What Do Men Live By, Stark Raving Mad, The Winner, Piss Play is About Minorities So It’s Really Important, Feed the Children! and Loose Joints. A Good Smoke was a semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference, and had a reading at The Public Theater, where it was directed by Pam MacKinnon, and starred Meryl Streep, Henry Wolfe, Grace Gummer, and Deborah Monk. Cummings has performed portions of BENT BUT NOT BROKEN to enthusiastic audiences at the Yale Writers’ Conference and at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in Los Angeles. 

 “To the world-class pantheon of memoirists like David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs and Jonathan Ames, let us now add Don Cummings’ Bent But Not Broken…Like all great personal essayists, the author mines his private torments - and tormented privates - transforming them, with wit, grace and weirdness, into a riveting, original story of triumph and transcendence…
— Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight and Bad Sex on Speed

 “Bent But Not Broken is a hilarious and deeply moving memoir about a penis and its owner. But more than that it’s about the nature of love, the flux of relationships, and how bodies betray us all. Cummings is a stunning writer and excellent travel guide for this journey through his life.
— Maggie Rowe, author of Sin Bravely andwriter on Arrested Development

Mark Epstein
ADVICE NOT GIVEN: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself
Penguin Press (editor Ann Godoff), January 2018

Sold to: Hay House (UK); Alta (Brazil); Curtea Veche (Romania); Hanmunhwa (Korea) La Llave (Spain)

Renowned psychiatrist and author Mark Epstein, M.D. tells us that our ego, and its accompanying sense of nagging self-doubt as we work to be bigger, better, smarter, and more in control, is an affliction we all share.  While the ego claims to have our best interests at heart in its never-ending pursuit of attention and power, it can sabotage the very goals it sets to achieve. In ADVICE NOT GIVEN, Epstein reveals how Buddhism and Western psychotherapy, two traditions that developed in entirely different times and places and, until recently, had nothing to do with each other, both identify the ego as the limiting factor in our well-being. 

Using the Eightfold Path as his scaffolding, Epstein looks back on his own experience and that of his patients. While the ideas of the Eightfold Path are as old as Buddhism itself, when informed by the sensibility of Western psychotherapy, they here become a road map for spiritual and psychological growth, a way of dealing with the intractable problem of the ego. When we give the ego free reign, we suffer; but when we learn to let it go, we are free. Epstein brings a Buddhist sensibility to western therapy and a therapist’s practicality to Buddhism.

Mark Epstein, M.D. is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of numerous books on the relation between Buddhism and psychotherapy, including The Trauma of Everyday Life, Thoughts Without a Thinker, and Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart.  He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University and is currently Clinical Assistant Professor in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University.

  “Mark Epstein’s Advice Not Given continues his important, fascinating work of ‘bridging the gap between psychotherapy and Buddhism’ in exceptionally lucid language. It also offers its readers a collection of fables, vignettes, and personal revelations with the true capacity to rearrange one’s perspective, even change one’s life. I suspect many of these offerings will stay with me for the long haul, for which I’m very grateful.”
— Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

“Most people will never find a great psychiatrist or a great Buddhist teacher, but Mark Epstein is both, and the wisdom he imparts in Advice Not Given is an act of generosity and compassion. The book is a tonic for the ailments of our time.”
— Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth

Advice Not Given is a beautiful reminder of what matters; intimate, moving, insightful, tender, and tough.  It invites me to a wiser mind and an open heart.”
— Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart

Daphne Geismar
INVISIBLE YEARS: A Family Underground in The Netherlands, 1942-1945
David R. Godine, Publisher (editor: David Godine), May 2020
Partial ms. and design available

INVISIBLE YEARS: A Family Underground in The Netherlands, 1942-1945, created and designed by Daphne Geismar, is based on an extraordinary collection of primary sources – narratives, photographs, remembrances.   Paralleled with historical facts and timeline, this book literally unfolds the underground world of hiding in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, in a multi-generational, extended family portrait.  When Daphne Geismar was a decade ago presented with the contents of her mother’s and aunt’s ‘Holocaust drawers’ – a true wealth of materials detailing their years in hiding, it became clear that she was destined to orchestrate and design this magnificent book. 

With impending Nazi occupation, Chaim and Fifi de Zoete sent their three young daughters, Mirjam, Judith, and Hadassah, age 9, 10, and 11 into separate hiding, while they themselves found hiding beneath the floorboards of a vaulted church ceiling.  All survived, unknowing of each others’ circumstances for those years, and each having recorded their reflections of hiding. This book, is the fabric of their composite story, previously invisible, through a horrific chapter in history.

Daphne Geismar, granddaughter of the de Zoete family of INVISIBLE YEARS is also an award-winning book designer, who has designed and produced books for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Yale University Press.  She has early interest in the book from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Jewish Museum in New York, and from the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale Universith . An interview of Mirjam and Daphne Geismar was aired in 2015 on ‘The World’ hosted by Marco Werman on Public Radio International.

James Shapiro
Penguin Press (editor Ann Godoff), Spring 2020
Proposal available, ms. due August 2019

Sold to: Faber (UK)
Options: Cátedra (Spanish); Hakusuisha (Japan); Guanxi Normal (Chinese Simplified)

In Shakespeare in a Divided America, James Shapiro, renowned for A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 (Samuel Johnson Prize) and The Year of Lear: 1606 (James Tait Black Prize), addresses how the plays of Shakespeare and only Shakespeare have the capacity to get to the heart of human controversy.  Over the course of American history, as matters of race, gender, and immigration have come to the forefront, legendary performances of Shakespeare’s plays serve as a barometer of our deepest national discord.  Shapiro, America’s foremost contemporary authority on Shakespeare, leads us through historic performances that include Othello, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Twelfth Night, showing Shakespeare’s unique role in reflecting the underpinnings of history.  From Ulysses S. Grant in the role of Desdemona (before he became commander of the Union army), to Paul Robeson as the first African American in the role of Othello in 1943, to Stephen Bannon’s collaborative film adaptation of Coriolanus set during the Rodney King riots.  

James Shapiro is Professor of English at Columbia University, where he teaches Shakespeare.  His earlier books have received international acclaim, including The Year of Lear: 1606, which won the James Tait Black Prize; A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize; Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?,a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Shapiro is also the author of Oberammergau: The Troubling Story of the World’s Most Famous Passion Play, Shakespeare and the Jews, and Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson, and is the Editor of Shakespeare in America (Library of America).  He reviews regularly for The New York Times Book Review, Times Literary Supplement, and other publications.  He is a consultant for The Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Public Theater productions of Shakespeare.  He has been a visiting scholar at the New Globe Theatre in London, and conducts faculty seminars at the Folger Library, where is a board member. Shapiro was a collaborator on Jacobean Genius, a series he hosted for the BBC, He also hosted for the BBC The Mysterious Mr. Webster, as well as hosting a Disney documentary, Shakespeare in Love.  

Praise for The Year of Lear: 1606:

“Irresistible—a banquet of wisdom.”
— Jane Smiley, The New York Times Book Review

“A new book by James Shapiro, the liveliest and most accessible of the Bardologists...[T]he bright light he shines into obscure corners gives us the illusion that we can almost glimpse the dramatist himself…It can only be hoped that Mr. Shapiro might be persuaded to write a book for every year of Shakespeare’s life.”
— Simon Callow, Wall Street Journal

The Year of Lear is a masterpiece, weaving together brilliant historical insight with acute literary analysis.  James Shapiro is one of our great Shakespearean scholars, but he is also a master storyteller…This book belongs on the very short shelf of required Shakespearean texts.”
 — Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater
Russell Shorto
REVOLUTION SONG: A Story of American Freedom
W.W. Norton (editor Julia Reidhead), 2017, paperback November 2018

Sold to: Ambo Anthos (The Netherlands)

In a moment when America’s founding principles of freedom are so fiercely contested, Russell Shorto looks deeply into the world in which they were forged.   In REVOLUTION SONG, Shorto uproots the way in which we are accustomed to seeing America’s history—that is, through the lens of its great, and predominantly white, men.  In choosing to recount the story of America’s founding through the lives of six individuals —a black man who freed himself and his family from slavery, an Iroquois leader, a populist politician and shoemaker, a young woman abandoning an abusive husband, a British aristocrat charged with overseeing the colonies, and George Washington himself — Shorto delivers an original and human account of America’s revolution.  As in his bestselling and groundbreaking The Island at the Center of the world, Shorto gives us a true shift in historical perspective.  Through this seamlessly woven narration, we gain a new comprehension of the American Revolution as being fought by the people of its time, and an appreciation for how it is still being fought today.

Russell Shorto is the author of the acclaimed Island at the Center of the World (optioned by Ideate and Scott Free as a 6-part TV series; also to be a 2019 musical from the Dutch theatre company New Productions).  He is also the author of Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, as well as Descartes’ Bones; Saints & Madmen; and Gospel Truth. He writes regularly for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and many other publications.

“An engaging, readable, and surprisingly complete account of the American Revolution. A tour de force.”
— Gordon S. Wood, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution

“With symphonic sweep, cinematic detail, and compelling, superbly researched real-life characters, Shorto shows how our struggle for freedom began and why it remains so sadly unfinished. If Spielberg wrote history, this is how it would read.”
— Howard Fineman, NBC News Analyst and author of The Thirteen American Arguments

“How did the teenaged daughter of a British officer view the American Revolution, from behind enemy lines in New York?  What did that contest mean to a shrewd, contemplative Iroquois warrior?  Russell Shorto has emerged from the archives with a bold, largely neglected cast.  He has set them free in a rich, prismatic narrative, as intensely vivid as it is seamlessly constructed.”
— Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Witches: Salem, 1692

Russell Shorto
W.W. Norton (editor Julia Reidhead), 2019
Ms. due Fall 2019

Sold to: Ambo Anthos (The Netherlands)

A smalltime American city, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a mining town at its peak, was also the home of a ‘smalltime’ mafia ring – Sicilian immigrants, classic in their time, who were trying to assimilate and make a living as best they could.  This wasn’t big boss Mafia, although some of them knew the big bosses; this was everyday local business.  The ‘open secret’ in Russell Shorto’s family was that the local mafia in Johnstown happened to be run by his grandfather (also named Russell Shorto) and his great-uncle, who along with other relatives and cronies become the main characters of this book.  The research will lie in Shorto’s still living relatives and in those who knew them, along with the local police archives, adding up to a chapter in US history, emblematic in its portrait of the growth of a mid-century small city, and in this case also a page-turner.

Henry Shukman
ONE BRIGHT PEARL: On the Old Road to Enlightenment
Counterpoint (editor: Jack Shoemaker), Fall 2019
Ms. due January 2019

In this memoir, award-winning poet and novelist Henry Shukman writes of his journey to becoming a teacher of Zen Buddhism—from leaving his childhood, academic home in Oxford, England, to being a nomadic writer, to evolving a contemplative practice, to settling into life in New Mexico, where today he heads the Mountain Cloud Zen Center.  It is a journey that reconciles mind and heart, as well as the physical healing; as Shukman’s life changes radically through meditation, his body at last sheds the severe eczema that afflicted him since childhood.

Henry Shukman, poet (In Dr. No’s Garden; Archangel) and novelist (The Lost City; Mortimer of Maghreb), is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Avron Poetry Prize, Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize, and Times Literary Supplement Prize, his work named by the Guardian and The Times (London) as a Book of the Year.  His work has been praised by Peter Mattheissen, Pico Iyer, Natalie Goldberg, and Vikram Seth. Shukman is currently a contributing editor to Tricycle Magazine, as well as Outside, and the Guardian and Observer in the UK.  His dharma talks reach over 4,000 followers in the Mountain Cloud Zen Center weekly podcast. He is also featured on StillnessSpeaks, the website hosting renowned spiritual teachers.

“This heartfelt and beautifully written memoir provides one of the most insightful, informative and honest accounts of Zen practice yet to appear in English.”
— Stephen Batchelor, author of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist and After Buddhism

“If you’ve ever wondered how a messed up kid like you or me might master the wisdom of Zen, One Bright Pearl is the adventure for you. It’s great company—and after reading it, you might recognize that you’re further along than you imagined.”
— David Hinton, author of Hunger Mountain

Maryanne Wolf
READER, COME HOME: The Reading Brain in a Digital World
HarperCollins (editor Gail Winston), August 2018

Sold to: Penguin (Germany); Intershift (Japan); Across Publishing (Korea); Koc University Press (Turkey); Vita e Pensiero (Italy); Contexto (Brazil); CITIC (Chinese Simplified); Business Weekly Publishing (Chinese Complex)

Cognitive neuroscientist and author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, Maryanne Wolf reflects on where we stand as readers and as a society in this moment of great change in the digitization of our culture. In the seven years since the publication of Proust and the Squid, Wolf has continued to chart the course of ‘deep reading,’ and the public has continued to become wary of how our culture will be affected by the infiltration of reading devices, and the speed with which we dart from one written format to another.  In April 2014, a front-page Washington Post article interviewed Maryanne Wolf on her opinions about how the brain and society are being affected in our digital age, in enduring ways.  While the research of this reality is still in a fledging state, there is much to anticipate, not only in terms of how children’s brains are currently developing, but also how adult brains have already begun to ‘re-wire.’  A flood of press has ensued, including interviews in The New York Times, USA Today, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, AARP, Education Week, and several national radio programs, as well as the BBC and CBC (Canadian). In READER, COME HOME, Wolf will pause, in classic epistolary form, to consider where we are as a society of readers, providing a cautionary but hopeful perspective on the impact of technology on our brains and our most essential intellectual capacities—and what this means for our collective literary future. 

Maryanne Wolf is a professor at Tufts University, where she founded the Center for Reading and Language Research, which she continues to direct, and is professor in the Elliot-Pearson Dept. of Child Development.  She is currently Scientific Advisor to the Global Literacy Project, based at Tufts, MIT, the University of Georgia, and the Dalai Lama Center, for which she develops content for tablets made available to children in African countries, as well as other developing regions.

“In this profound and well-researched study of our changing reading patterns, Wolf presents lucid arguments for teaching our brain to become all-embracing in the age of electronic technology. If you call yourself a reader and want to keep on being one, this extraordinary book is for you.”
— Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading and A Reader on Reading

“Wolf is sober, realistic, and hopeful, an impressive trifecta. Her core message: We can’t take reading too seriously. And for us, today, how seriously we take it, will mark of the measure of our lives.” 
— Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age; Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science, MIT

 “A love song to the written word, a brilliant introduction to the science of the reading brain and a powerful call to action. With each page, Wolf brilliantly shows us why we must preserve deep reading for ourselves and sow desire for it within our kids.  Otherwise we risk losing the critical benefits for humanity that come with reading deeply to understand our world.”
— Lisa Geurnsey, coauthor Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens

“Scholar, storyteller, and humanist, Wolf brings her laser sharp eye to the science of reading in a seminal book about what it means to be literate in our digital and global age.  Informed by a review of research from neuroscience to Socratic philosophy, and wittily crafted with true affection for her audience, Reader Come Home charts a compelling case for a new approach to lifelong literacy that could truly affect the course of human history.”
— Michael H. Levine, co-author Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens


Nina Barrett
THE LEOPOLD & LOEB FILES: An Intimate Look at One of America’s Most Infamous Crimes
Agate Publishing (editor Doug Seibold), 2018

Known as the ‘crime of the century,’ Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb’s murder of a 14-year-old boy on the afternoon of May 21, 1924 in Chicago continues to capture the public imagination 95 years later. The willful murder committed by two highly educated, upper-middle class young men ignites discussion on matters of sanity, sexuality, social entitlement, parental responsibility, and use of the death penalty today. THE LEOPOLD & LOEB FILES by Nina Barrett is a fresh look at the infamous case, based on an extraordinary collection of documents housed in the special collections of the Northwestern University Library. The documents and artifacts in effect unfold as an ‘oral history’ in the voices and testimonies of Leopold and Loeb, their parents, psychiatrists, newspaper reporting of the time, and transcripts of the brilliant defense by Clarence Darrow, known in this case as the ‘attorney for the damned.’

Nina Barrett, who was a researcher at Northwestern University special collections, is the author of two memoirs, has been the host of National Public Radio cooking show Fear of Frying, and is co-owner of a successful Chicago independent bookstore. 

Roy Richard Grinker
OF SHADOWS AND CAMOUFLAGE: The Disappearing Stigma of Mental Illness
Basic Books (editor Eric Henney), 2020
Ms. due Fall 2019

Roy Richard Grinker, anthropologist and author of Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, offers aradical new history of mental illness. Grinker argues that the concept of “mental illness” is a modern capitalist invention designed to stigmatize people deemed “economically unproductive.” And consequently, it is 21st-century economic transformations – even more than compassion or scientific advances – that hold the key to reducing this stigma. In this history of psychiatry, Grinker’s own family figures prominently, including his great grandfather, the eugenicist Julius Grinker, who is known for popularizing the female disease of ‘hysteria’ and who argued that people with mental illness should be forced into extinction; followed by his grandfather, Roy R. Grinker Sr., who in rejecting his father’s wisdom was pivotal in normalizing mental illness during WWII and was also one of Freud’s analysands. Grinker’s own cross-cultural field research on mental illness in Korea, India, and the Congo informs the variability of stigma in different cultures. His examination of autism as an indication of the reality of stigma reversal in the past decade is also influenced by personal experience, as the father of his Isabel, who self-defines as autistic.

Roy Richard Grinker is Professor of Anthropology, Human Sciences and International Affairs at George Washington University. He is the author of Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, which was a finalist for the Victoria Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing from the American Anthropological Association; In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin M. Turnbull; Korea and Its Futures: Unification and the Unfinished War; and Houses in the Rainforest: Ethnicity and Inequality Among Farmers and Foragers in Central Africa. He has been awarded a fellowship from the National Alliance for Autism Research/Autism Speaks to conduct the first ever prevalence study of autism in Korea.
Liel Leibovitz
STAN LEE: Four Superheroes in Search of an Author
Yale University Press, Jewish Lives Series (editor Ileene Smith), 2019
Ms. due Fall 2018

Few artists have had as much impact on American popular culture as Stan Lee.  His creation of Marvel Comics has grown from a tiny one-man operation to a Disney owned behemoth.  Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, and the X-Men wholly occupy Hollywood’s imagination and stir billions of dollars of ticket sales, alongside a bounty of comic books, television shows, video games, digital applications, and more.  With all of Lee’s fame and success, however, to date remarkably little is known of his life and ideas.  Liel Leibovitz’s new biography will present the artist Stan Lee, who witnessed his father’s fortune robbed during The Great Depression, who was refused adoption of a baby based on his interfaith marriage – he a Jew married to his Episcopal wife Joan – and whose emotional and spiritual themes of divine election, free will, power, and dissent are the threads into understanding his work.  Organized around Leibovitz’s own lifelong heroes, the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, and finally Magneto of the X-Men, this work will unfold Stan Lee, the man behind the legend. 

Liel Leibovitz is most recently the author of the Leonard Cohen biography, A Broken Hallelujah, and some of his other works include Lili Marlene: The Soldier’s Song of WW II and God in the Machine: Video Games as Spiritual Pursuit. He is a founding editor of Tablet Magazine, for which he writes a weekly column, and contributes regularly to The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.

Jody Shields
Little, Brown (editor Judy Clain), January 2018

Set in turn-of-the-century Manchuria, in the frigid frontier railway junction of the city of Kharbin, a Russian doctor seeks to solve the mystery behind the plague that is killing the city’s inhabitants.  At this crossroads of civilizations, it is the Chinese workers who seem to be dying, while the Russian bureaucrats oversee the city. Already an outlier, the Russian doctor, an aristocratic Baron, is married to a young Chinese woman.  As the plague victims fall, the Baron must balance his honor of Chinese medical practice with orders from the Russian general who oversees the government, his mission further tested when faced with the unlikely adversary of a modern Chinese doctor introduced by the Chinese.  Fighting for his own principles, and upholding protection of his wife, the Baron’s treatment of the plague victims is steeped in secrecy and cultural suspicion. In the cold and austere winter of the plague, the Baron finds his few allies in a fellow doctor, a black market trader, and a Chinese dwarf, who engages with the wealthy in an exclusive department store.  His solace is in the study of calligraphy, taught to him by a Chinese master. Based on the true story of the Russian doctor who dedicated his life to the city of Kharbin and the treatment of the plague, Shields transports the reader to a vivid world.

Jody Shields is also the author of the bestselling novel The Fig Eater and The Crimson Portrait. She is formerly design editor of the New York Times Magazine, and contributing editor to American Vogue and House & Garden, is also screenwriter, and a collected artist.

“THE WINTER STATION … reads like a Russian novel… a story of courage, love, resilience, loyalty during a season of absolute terror. Jody Shields is a fearless writer, with the integrity of a worthy creator, and this novel won't be easily forgotten.”
— Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone and The Maid’s Version