Dreamers of the Day

Mary Doria Russell's fiction has always dealt with power and the search for elusive lands as a means to further it. In her novels The Sparrow and Children of God, a band of Jesuits in the future colonize a distant planet. In Dreamers of the Day, Russell shifts her gaze to the Middle East, specifically to the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference, where a group of high-profile Europeans met to decide the fate of the region in the aftermath of the First World War. Agnes Shanklin, a 40-year-old spinster whose staid schoolteacher's life is transformed by a sudden inheritance of riches, sets sail for Egypt just in time to mingle with the illustrious company gathered in Cairo: Winston Churchill, a hoity-toity colonial secretary; Gertrude Bell, the redoubtable British writer credited with drawing up the borders of Mesopotamia; and the swashbuckling, locally beloved T. E. Lawrence. Agnes's sojourn in the company of these power brokers is richly conjured by the author, drawing on meticulous research. You may not agree with her political message, but it is impossible to ignore her conviction, born of a deep humanity, that geopolitics does not sit well with hubris. As America grapples with the fruits of its actions in Iraq, Dreamers of the Day is a timely reminder of that classic dictum: those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.