tions you’ll surely have upon finishing 2666 (such as, What is
the secret of the universe?) than Chris Andrews, the translator
of ten of the Chilean writer’s books. This first big book of Bolaño criticism sets a very high bar.
—Gabe Habash, deputy reviews editor
Qur’an in Conversation
Baylor University Press (Aug.)
My Muslim friends and colleagues
have been able to explain a lot to me
about Islam, but I confess to being
puzzled by the Qur’an because its
literary form and references are un-
familiar. So I look forward to the
friendly guidance of author Michael
Birkel, who is a Friend (that is, a
member of the Religious Society of
Friends, or Quakers) and teacher of religion at Earlham College.
Birkel allows readers to overhear the conversations about Islam’s
sacred text among North American religion scholars and other
influential Muslims. Many of the contributors are young and
they come from a variety of disciplines and cultural back-
grounds. Sacred texts fascinate me in the way
they compel attention and shape cultures.
Nope, it’s not a beach read, but fiction will
have to take a back seat to this one on my
summer reading list.
—Marcia Z. Nelson, religion reviews editor
Andrea Camilleri, trans. from the
Italian by Stephen Sartarelli
Each Montalbano mystery from
Camilleri signals summer’s arrival
for me; as it’s my ideal vacation read.
Whether the aging, hard-edged in-
spector is on the case solving mur-
ders in remote mountain caves or
along the mafia-controlled ports, he
always has time in his seaside town
of Vigàta to duck into a restaurant
for a meal of squid ink pasta or caponata di melanzane. He’s
dedicated to his girlfriend in Rome, but finds
temptation close by—and in this 17th install-
ment, it’s the charming smile of an angelic
woman, the victim of a burglary.
—Mark Rotella, senior reviews editor
Looking for a good book this summer?
We’ve got you covered, from grisly
thrillers to beach reads to poetry.
Half a King
Del Ray (July)
I’d been saving up this morsel until
I had time to properly savor it, and
then I opened it just to take a taste and
couldn’t stop reading. Abercrombie’s
greatest gift is for description that
brings you fully into his gritty, bloody
fantasy world of battle and intrigue. A ship captain’s cabin is
“cramped and garish, gloomy... The place smelled of tar, salt
and incense, stale sweat and stale wine.” Abercrombie takes the
time to immerse the reader, making everything—including the
action, which is fast-paced and violent—feel more real. Even
with all the description, Half a King has about half the page
count of Abercrombie’s previous fantasy novels,
but it still contains plenty of his trademark
wry wit and appealing characters, so it’s a ter-
rific introduction to his work.
—Rose Fox, reviews editor
Fiction: An Expand-
Columbia Univ. (July)
Few authors cause
mania in readers as
and who better to
answer all the ques-