Southwest Book Reviews

University of Nevada Press

Planet vs. people: That's the theme of Prescott writer  Susan Lang's most recent book, The Sawtooth Complex. It picks up where her Mojave Desert trilogy left off, reviving the character of Maddie Farley, a reluctant hero and defender of nature. In The Sawtooth Complex, Farley takes on land developers, intent on changing the wild desert she loves so much. KNAU's Southwest Book Reviewer, Mary Sojourner, says the novel offers a genuine portrayal of the people and landscape of the Mojave Desert. 

KNAU's Southwest Book Reviewer, Mary Sojourner, started the New Year by reading something old. 2016 marks exactly two decades since Luis Urrea's book By the Lake of Sleeping Children was published. It portrays the sharp contrast between what poverty looks like on both the north and south sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. For Sojourner, the book echoes her belief in the stunning disparity between surviving the holidays...and truly surviving. 


Mark Rozema

Author Mark Rozema grew up in Flagstaff, but has lived all over the West working as a photographer, fisherman, firefighter and teacher. His first book is called “Road Trip.” It’s a collection of personal essays that chronicle his travels and examine how the natural world molds our relationships. Mary Sojourner interviewed Rozema for this month’s Southwest Book Review.


University of Washington Press

Humbug Valley is a lush meadow in Northern California; a place the indigenous Maidu Indians believe was specifically chosen for them by the great spirits of their ancestors. For years, it's been the site of a controversial timber harvesting project by the large utility company that owns the land. And a group of activists known as "The Reclaimers" has been fighting against it. They are the main characters in Ana Maraia Spagna's latest work of non-fiction, Reclaimers...the focus of this month's Southwest Book Review by Mary Sojourner.

University of Nevada Press

The premise of Denice Turner's new memoir Worthy is about being raised in a Mormon household in suburban Utah, trying to find her place in the Church. But it's also about Turner's struggle to win the love and acceptance of her mother: a woman whose severe bipolar disorder was repeatedly misdiagnosed throughout her lifetime. That theme is what caught the interest of KNAU's Southwest Book Reviewer Mary Sojourner, and it ended up bringing the two writers together in a very cathartic way.

www.laraineherring.com

If you've ever decided that you're finally going to sit down and write the novel, article, or collection of short stories you've always wanted to do only to find that months later you haven't written a word, then author Laraine Herring has some advice for you. In her new book Writing Begins with the Breath, the Prescott-based writer offers an almost yogic perspective on the influence breathing can have on writing. It's an idea KNAU's Southwest Book reviewer Mary Sojourner thinks is spot-on.

In the latest installment of KNAU's Southwest Book Review, we go back 20 years to the first novel by Arizona-based writer Alfredo Vea, Jr. Set in the desert town of Buckeye in the late 1950's, La Maravilla tells the story of Beto, a young boy torn between his love and fear of living in different worlds - both real and mystical. According to our book reviewer Mary Sojourner, Vea uses the Sonoran desert as a powerful measure of time.

bradenhepner.com

Pale Harvest is the breakout novel by writer Braden Hepner. Set in Utah's high desert in the 1970's, it explores themes of extinction; extinction of small towns, family and self. In KNAU's latest Southwest Book Review, Mary Sojourner says Pale Harvest is a powerful story of harshness and healing.

Torrey House Press

In KNAU's latest Southwest Book Review, the reviewer - Mary Sojourner - becomes the reviewed. Sojourner's latest novel 29 has just been released. It tells the story of Nell Walker, a woman navigating a cycle of despair after losing her heart - and her job as a high-powered corporate executive - all at once. She flees Los Angeles and ends up in the small desert town of Twenty Nine Palms in a battle against energy developers who are threatening sacred lands. Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris spoke with Mary Sojourner about blending her passions for writing and environmental activism into the pages of 29.

Copper Canyon Press

"Flood Song" is the second book by writer Sherwin Bitsui. The collection of post-modern poems is both lyrically fragmented and linguistically stunning and combines the author's experiences living on and off the Navajo Nation, where he was born. In KNAU's latest Southwest Book Review, commentator Mary Sojourner says "Flood Song" is a gorgeous collision of images.

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