Wherever you go this summer, we’ve pulled out a few CCLA Classics: household names and bookshelf staples to carry—and carry you—across the globe.
We start in Portugal, where “the American Umberto Eco,” Richard Zimler lives; his ten novels have been on bestseller lists in over a dozen countries. THE LAST KABBALIST OF LISBON follows Berekiah Zarco against the backdrop of the Lisbon Massacre of Jews in 1506, as the Kabbalistic codes light and obscure his attempt to solve the mystery of his uncle’s murder. “Beautifully written, moving and disturbing, this packs a powerful, emotional punch,” described The Guardian.
From there we go to the American Midwest, where Hannah Green, a student of Vladimir Nabokov and Wallace Stegner, chronicles five generations of Nyes and DeGolyers in THE DEAD OF THE HOUSE. Told in delicately distilled prose, Norman Mailer said, “I love it!…sorrows and old family joys seem to pass through its pages like animals at midnight to stalk into some vault of breath and silence and fine attention.”
Richard Kim was a definitive North Korean cultural figure in the second half of the 20th-century. His novel THE MARTYRED spent 14 weeks on the bestseller list, praised as a masterpiece by authors as varied as Pearl S. Buck and Philip Roth. In the new foreword Susan Choi wrote, “Kim forges a drama of such devastating universality that an electrifying sense of recognition binds us to the pages.” THE MARTYRED was the first Penguin Classic about the Korean War and the first by a Korean-American writer.
On the Upper West Side, Lore Segal comes “closer than anyone to writing The Great American Novel” (The New York Times). Herself a refugee from Nazi-occupied Austria via the Kindertransport, Segal’s novel HER FIRST AMERICAN is a stunning love story and “an immensely impressive, unclassifiable book,” (The New Republic) of a refugee from Hitler’s Europe and a witty, hard-drinking black intellectual.
And finally, in the South, there’s Padgett Powell, hailed by Saul Bellow and Barry Hannah as one of the best living writers. His 1984 novel EDISTO, compared by Walker Percy to Catcher In the Rye (“but it’s better”), is now a Farrar, Straus and Giroux Contemporary Classic.
From Korea to Portugal, New York or Edisto, South Carolina, Happy Summer-Reading Season.