Books Published by NWU-Boston Members in 2020

Braxton, Lisa. The Talking Drum, Inanna Publications. It is 1971. The fictional city of Bellport, Massachusetts, is in decline with an urban redevelopment project on the horizon expected to transform this dying factory town into a thriving economic center — profoundly transforming the residents themselves in the process. The Talking Drum explores intra-racial, class, and cross-cultural tensions, along with the meaning of community and belonging. “At it’s heart, this is a novel about who you love and who becomes your home. A moving and skillful debut.” Stephanie Powell Watts, author of No One is Coming to Save Us. “With an insider’s eye for nuance, Lisa Braxton captures both the powerlessness and the resilience of communities threatened by urban development.

De Beauvoir, Jeannette.

  •  The Matinée Murders, Homeport Press.It’s time for the Provincetown International Film Festival, and wedding planner Sydney Riley has scored a coup: her inn is hosting the wedding of the year. Movie star Brett Falcone is to marry screenwriter Justin Braden, and even Sydney’s eternally critical mother is excited. The town is overflowing with filmmakers, film reviewers, film buffs, and it’s all the inn can do to keep up with the influx of glamorous celebrities and host their star-studded events. But when Sydney opens a forbidden door in the mysterious Whaler’s Wharf, she discovers the body of a producer—and a legion of unanswered questions. Sydney and her boyfriend Ali need to find the answers fast before another victim takes a final bow.
  • The Lethal Legacy, Homeport Press. Despite a slew of weddings to coordinate, Sydney Riley refuses to miss the Women’s Community Dinner—the high point of Women’s Week. During the festivities, she meets vocalist Jordan Bellefort, a direct descendant of a fugitive slave whose diaries suggest the Race Point Inn was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Then Jordan’s wife, Reggie, is murdered while Jordan performs onstage before a crowd of adoring fans. When Sydney probes Reggie’s death, she uncovers a tainted legacy that may provide a motive for the killing and place her own life at risk.

Dennett, Charlotte. The Crash of Flight 3804: A Lost Spy, a Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil. Chelsea Green Publishing. Dennett’s book, which uncovers the role of oil and pipelines in endless war as she investigates the death of her master-spy father, has been hailed as a “masterpiece” and “a triumph” of investigative journalism. Most recently it was chosen as a favorite Vermont Read for 2020 by Seven Days, Vermont’s arts and politics weekly, whose reviewers said, “[This spy story] is a “painstakingly researched nonfictional read that moves with the tension and intrigue of a John le Carré novel and offers profound insight on loss, family and geopolitics.”

Hodge, John L. Presidential Racism:The Words of U.S. Presidents Since the Civil War; And an Essay: The Enduring Anti-Democratic Disease Afflicting Us–And Its Cure. The quotations of presidents from 1866 to the present enhance our understanding of the ugly history and current presence of racism. The essay roots the concept of human equality to its ethical ground, the Golden Rule, and contrasts this concept to the prevailing prevalence of ingrained elitism that has produced a wealthocracy.

Kates, J. and Stephen A. Sadow, translators.

  •  Winter Journey. Červená Barva Press. A bilingual edition of poems by the Spanish poet Alicia Aza (whose Architecture of Silence, also translated  by Kates and Sadow was published by Valparaíso U. S. A.  in 2018)
  • Reading the Infinite. Pendulum Press. A bilingual edition of poems by the Mexican Jewish poet Jenny Asse Chayo.

 Maher, Jan. The Persistence of Memory and Other Stories, Dog Hollow Press. A dozen stories featuring characters aged 4 to 94, each dealing in some way with how and why our memories shape our current crises. “Maher’s writing has striking scope and breathtaking versatility…This is a prize collection that examines each stage of human life–how memories are lost and won; their value; and their weight. Elegantly written tales laced with melancholy and mischief.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Schopp, Susan E.  Sino-French Trade at Canton, 1698–1842. In the global expansion of trade that occurred during the eighteenth century, China played a vital role as the source of tea, porcelain, silk, and other products that were avidly sought after by international merchants and consumers. France, which was then one of the two most important Western world powers, was a key participant in this trade. Yet the French have often been dismissed as “also-rans” who were eclipsed by the other great European power of the century, the British. Sino-French Trade at Canton, 1698–1842 rescues the French from the shadows, providing a detailed look at France’s often innovative experience in the China trade.

Wheeler, Leslie.   

  • Murder at Plimoth Plantation, Encircle Publications (paperback). When the living history museum of Plimoth Plantation turns deadly, armchair historian Miranda Lewis must transform herself into a woman of action.
  • Shuntoll Road, Encircle Publications. The second book in the Berkshire Hilltown Mystery series, and the sequel to Rattlesnake Hill. Boston library curator Kathryn Stinson returns to the Berkshires, hoping to rebuild her romance with Earl Barker, but ends up battling a New York developer, determined to turn the property she’s been renting into an upscale development. The fight pits her against Earl, who has been offered the job of clearing the land. When a fire breaks out in the woods, the burned body of another opponent is found. Did he die attempting to escape a fire he set, or was the fire set to cover up his murder. Kathryn’s search for answers puts her in grave danger.

Zweig, Martha. Get Lost. “I compiled GET LOST from among poems– already published in magazines– which seemed to want to jazz together on the title theme. It is amazing how poems will do that. The hinge section, “A Strange Place,” collects poems (and one prose-poem) begun during a residence in 2003 at Everglades National Park. On the whole the idea seems to be that getting lost is a good thing, which I hadn’t known I knew.”