WCSU

Martha Anne Toll

Sarah M. Broom's gorgeous debut, The Yellow House, reads as elegy and prayer.

The titular house is the fulcrum for Broom's memoir about her large and complex family. Perhaps more important, it stands in for the countless ways America has failed and continues to fail African Americans.

I'm not sure I would have argued for another memoir in which a white man's life implodes from alcohol and cocaine addiction. But now comes Idiot Wind by Peter Kaldheim, its title from the Bob Dylan song, with something to offer.

Three Summers, by Magarita Liberaki [1919-2001], weaves a dreamy, cinematic tapestry of Greek village life. Originally published in 1946, the novel has been reissued, translated by Karen Van Dyck. It's set in the countryside around Athens, "where all the gardens were."

Massoud Hayoun is a member of the Arab diaspora. With Moroccan, Egyptian, and Tunisian heritage, he is also Jewish.

His new book, When We Were Arabs, is an absorbing family history that spans continents and epochs.

Hayoun uses his grandparents' stories to illuminate the fading history of a once thriving Arab Jewish community. In the process, he delivers a scathing indictment of colonialism. He considers his Arabness "cultural," "African," and "Jewish," but "retaliatory" as well.

The German viola I played during my serious music days failed to accrue value; twentieth century German instruments don't produce a warm enough sound. For tone, you need Italian or French or English. In some cases, American will do, as Gregory Spatz attests in his new collection. Set in and around Seattle, Spatz's What Could Be Saved plumbs the rarified world of high-end stringed instruments. Spatz teaches writing at Eastern Washington University; he is also a professional fiddler, which lends his book an authenticity often lacking in fiction about musicians.

Since its founding, America has been fertile ground for conspiracy beliefs. While every generation produces rumor-mongers, today we anoint them with special powers through social media.

Anna Merlan, a journalist at Gizmodo Media Group, explores our contemporary fixation with conspiracy theories of all political stripes in Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power. Throughout the book, she reports from gatherings of people whose beliefs are both extreme and false.