Thursday, May 9, 2013

April Review Round Up

Here at David R. Godine, Publisher, we strive to produce high quality books above all else. So, when our books and authors are praised, we hope you'll forgive us for acting like proud parents. Please join us in celebrating the recent success of a few of our talented authors.

This past month, Kirkus Reviews highlighted two of Godine's upcoming releases. The first book that the magazine praised is The African by J.M.G Le Clézio, a stunning tale of the author's experience moving from Nice, France to a Nigerian village:

A slim yet resonant autobiographical entry from the Nobel laureate’s early years in West Africa.

Le Clézio’s (Desert, 2009, etc.) memoir of his African youth is thin in length yet rich in detail as he reconciles his experience being spontaneously relocated at 8 with his mother and brother from World War II–era Nice, France, to remote Nigeria. As the only whites in a villages of natives, he describes family life crammed into a rustic homestead with paneless windows and mosquito netting—the best the French government could provide to his father, a military doctor. Even without schooling or sports, the author’s cultural enlightenment becomes an explosion of sensations, from the sun-induced bouts of prickly heat to the naked culture’s immodest “supremacy of the body.” Le Clézio writes of liberating his pent-up frustration from being raised fatherless in dreary, wartime Europe on the African savannah, yet his father, the man he’d reunited with in 1948, emerges as the memoir’s beating heart. Restless after medical school, he’d fled Europe for a two-year medical post in Guyana and two decades in West Africa. The author paints his father as pessimistic, lonely, overly authoritative and staunchly repulsed by colonial power, yet happily married. Sadly defeated by time and circumstance, he’d become a stranger and, once relocated back to France, “an old man out of his element, exiled from his life and his passion for medicine, a survivor.” Only in his lyrically articulated hindsight does the author truly appreciate his father’s good work and a unique, memorable childhood.

A vivid depiction of a splintered childhood and the lovely wholeness procured from it.
The African will be available this summer; you can learn more about it on our website.

Kirkus also reviewed Pizza in Pienza, a delightful read filled with colorful illustrations and information on the history of a simple Italian creation that Americans have come to love:

A little Tuscan girl introduces readers to her hometown of Pienza and her favorite food, pizza.

Simple, declarative sentences take readers from Queen Margherita of Italy, circa 1889, to the streets of Pienza, where life “is still pretty old-fashioned,” to a brief history of the pizza. “[P]izza as we know it,” she says, “was really born in Naples,” but she goes back even further to inform readers that the ancient Greeks and Italians ate flatbreads before moving on to discuss classic pizza ingredients and the invention of the pizza Margherita. The first pizzeria in the United States opened in New York City in 1905, she continues, but pizza did not become popular around the country until after World War II: “Now there is pizza in Pienza… / …and all around the world!” Her ingenuous voice is matched by equally enthusiastic, folk-style artwork, which looks to be made with oil pastels and is dominated by warm, Tuscan colors. Fillion spices the illustrations with humor, pairing a black-clad nonna on a bicycle to a modish young woman on a Vespa on one page and planting a demurely held slice in Mona Lisa’s left hand on another. The English text appears above an Italian translation on every page, and the story is supplemented by an author’s note, a pronunciation guide, a two-page history of pizza and a recipe.

Both tasty and just filling enough, just like a slice of pizza Margherita.
Look out for Pizza in Pienza, available on our website this summer. In the meantime, check out for more of our recent and upcoming arrivals!

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