Ayana Mathis

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie has proven a whirlwind success, as an evocative story richly depicting 1920s Georgia and one working-class mother's remarkable journey in raising nine children after the death of firstborn twins. A selection for both Barnes and Noble's Discover Great New Writers program and Oprah's Book Club 2.0, the book has found an admiring audience for its unique approach to a universal story. This week, Hattie's author Ayana Mathis selects five books that share her work's evocative sense of loss and wonder in a collection Mathis dubs "The Great Beyond: Books about souls (and bodies) in otherworldly terrain."


City of God
By E. L. Doctorow

"Set in New York City at the end of the twentieth century, this novel begins with a single mystery -- how did a cross stolen from an Episcopal church end up on the roof of a synagogue -- and expands into all mysteries: what are we doing here, why does evil exist, what is the modern conception of God."


By Marilynne Robinson

"The most achingly beautiful novel you’ll ever read. Read this story of transience and loss to understand the ranging, undomesticated parts of yourself, those insistent bits that tug at you on insomniac nights when you are alone at 4 a.m. and filled with longing and questions."



Go Tell It on the Mountain
By James Baldwin

"Baldwin’s fourteen-year-old protagonist is at the center of this novel about the role of the Christian church in the lives of a Harlem family in 1936. Wrenching and alive and unflinching, it is the best portrait of a childhood in the church, and the nature of salvation, that I’ve ever read."


The Children's Hospital
By Chris Adrian

"What if there were a novel about a second great flood and the only surviving humans were floating in a hospital full of sick children? And what if one of the medical students there was suddenly gifted with miraculous and terrifying powers to heal?  Just read it, you won’t be sorry."


Beyond Black
By Hilary Mantel

"Unlike anything I’ve ever read, Mantel takes as her subject a psychic who, by virtue (or bane) of her gifts, is ever in the company of the spirits of the dead. That the novel is utterly believable is a testament to her gifts, and that it is also funny is icing on the cake."


April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.

Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet

Amara Lakhous delivers a mystery novel with its finger on the hot-button issues of today's Europe.  Immigration and multicultural conflicts erupt in the Italian city of Turin, as journalist Enzo Laganà looks to restore peace to his native burg.

Papers in the Wind

In this insightful novel by Eduardo Sacheri, a young girl left destitute by the death of her soccer-playing father is uplifted by the bold schemes of her uncle, his pals, and one newbie player to the professional leagues.