Spring 2022


Greetings from Three Lives & Company!


ThereÕs lots to do as we settle back into our corner: fill out our bookcases, see where things fit in the slightly altered shop, tap into that muscle memory as we move around our old space. WeÕve had loads of excited visitors in our first two weeks, many bearing gifts of flowers, baked goods, and even a new item for the Three Lives archive: the October 1983 Villager issue announcing the shopÕs original move to 154 West 10th. Thanks to you all for the grand reception!


April is Poetry Month, and members of the crew have been tackling two of the seasonÕs biggest poetry releases. Troy has begun Ocean VuongÕs much anticipated Time Is a Mother, and below you can read NoraÕs glowing review of Ada Lim—nÕs collection The Hurting Kind. We might have read slightly less during the moving period, but weÕre getting back up to speed – and just in time for an onslaught of new books! The spring publishing season is upon us, and you can read on to see our recent favorites.


We also moved in time to prepare for one of our favorite literary occasions, Independent Bookstore Day, which falls on the last Saturday of April. The pandemic put a stop to our tradition of bringing in homemade treats to show our appreciation for all of you (maybe in 2023!), but we will have our custom-made IBD bookmark, and the day always feels celebratory with or without the extra sugar. Come enjoy the company of fellow book lovers on April 30!


~ Recent Staff Favorites ~


My book picks for the season run the gamut: published this year, last year, and a century ago; originating in Australia, America, and France; recommended to me by a sales rep, an author, and a customer. You just never know how a book is going to land in your hands! Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au (New Directions) is a slim, word-perfect novel about a mother and daughter traveling together through Japan. Their relationship and the reason for their trip are pleasingly enigmatic, and the present-day travelogue intercut with recollections from their past forms an extremely memorable, satisfying read. Talk about doing a lot with a little!


I feel chagrined that I had never heard of Harlem Renaissance writer Jessie Redmon Fauset or her first novel There Is Confusion (reissued by Modern Library), but now itÕs my mission to spread the word. First published in 1924, this story of three friends striving to pursue their romantic and professional passions, despite the very real barriers imposed by class and race, contains all the traditional delights of a novel: intricate plotting, compelling character development, powerful (and human) exploration of themes and issues.


One of the many reasons I love Michael Ondaatje is his rendering of work – the way in which he drills down into certain careers and vocations and shows the interior life of a job, whether of a smuggler or bomb disposal technician. Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal (Picador, translated by Jessica Moore) offers a similar pleasure: it is a breathtaking portrait of a young woman in the act of becoming a painter, as she endures the grueling training and apprenticeship required to perfect her craft. I read in a state of wonder. – Miriam


In 2016, American hiker Justin Alexander Shetler disappeared after setting off on a pilgrimage to Mantalai Lake, a holy site deep in IndiaÕs Parvati Valley. Harley RustadÕs book Lost in the Valley of Death (Harper) aims to answer a simple question: what happened to Shetler? Reminiscent of the work of Jon Krakauer and Patrick Radden Keefe, this is propulsive, investigative journalism: an intricate and sensitive portrait of a man and his search for fulfillment, as beautifully written as it is haunting and engaging.

Thanks to Miriam, I picked up Jessica AuÕs short and stunning novel Cold Enough for Snow. On a trip to Tokyo, a mother and daughter spend days walking the streets, having tea, visiting art museums, and talkingÉ kind of. AuÕs understanding of the novel and its conventions – as well as her readersÕ expectations – is masterful. In the world of this book, very little is certain (why theyÕre traveling together, or what has transpired between them), but what is clear is the importance of family and memory, and the necessity of expression and connection.

Ada Lim—nÕs forthcoming book of poetry, The Hurting Kind (Milkweed), feels like the collection IÕve been waiting for. After years of shutdowns, uncertainty, and large-scale heartbreak, these poems serve as a reminder of what matters: small acts of kindness, the power of nature, and, against the odds, the ability to hope, love, and heal. – Nora


In keeping with my vague resolution to read more backlist this year, I picked up – at a new Manhattan bookshop, Yu & Me Books! – a copy of Jessica HagedornÕs 1990 novel Dogeaters (Penguin), a patchwork of stories set in post-independence Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship. (Yes, this is the second consecutive newsletter in which IÕve mentioned the Marcos dictatorship. I know what I like.) HagedornÕs characters, many inhabiting the invisible spaces of stratified Manila society, hustle and dream, screw up, lose hope and occasionally regain it. The book is audacious and indecent, like the world it chronicles.


And something new: Jing TsuÕs Kingdom of Characters (Riverhead), a riveting read about the attempts to modernize ChinaÕs language through the twentieth century. Many saw the simplification and standardization of Chinese as the key to the nationÕs future. Traditionalists considered this the basest heresy. In TsuÕs telling, the urgency of ChinaÕs political century, as factions fight for control over the remnants of the empire and the hearts of the proletariat, imbues every stroke and tone with intrigue. – Ryan


What to read while consumed (overwhelmed?) with the build-out of the old bookshop space and the impending return to our Waverly corner? Short stories! Before my reading fell off as the move date approached, I read two great collections. Colin BarrettÕs Homesickness (Grove) is based squarely and wonderfully in the Irish tale-telling tradition, completely engaging and entertaining with rich, witty banter. From the author of the novel A Change of Time, a recent favorite of mine, Ida JessenÕs short stories in A Postcard for Annie (Archipelago, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken and on sale June 21) are astute, revealing portraits of women during unsettled moments of life. JessenÕs skilled restraint and denouements are a joy to read. And now with Three Lives safely back in our home of almost forty years, I can get back to the stacks of books at hand. Onward! – Toby


IÕm reading about all things love – yep, go figure! But when I looked at my current stack, there it was popping right out at me. It began a month ago with Amy BloomÕs new memoir In Love (Random House), which made me smile and choke up all at once because it goes straight to the center of our fragile human hearts with maturity and kindness and a light touch. So, of course, I had to go back and reread her short story collection A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You (Vintage), mostly because I love the title (and the first edition cover art) but also because Bloom writes great short stories!


And carrying on with love: IÕve just cracked the spine of the new Monica Ali novel Love Marriage (Scribner), due out May 3, and the early reviews are splendid! Just look at this blurb from Neel Mukherjee: ÒA novel with the richness, and the throng and press and hum of life itselfÉ bold, compassionate, big-hearted, pitch-perfectly written.Ó Did you read AliÕs first novel, Brick Lane? I adored that book – love story within love story within love story, and so much more.


Two last things: Braiding Sweetgrass (Milkweed), a love song to the natural world by Robin Wall Kimmerer; and a poem (pinned to my fridge) by Derek Walcott, ÒLove After LoveÓÉ easy to look up online if youÕd like! – Joyce


This month I traveled by plane for the first time in a long time. I spent both flights reading Matthieu AikinsÕs The Naked DonÕt Fear the Water (Harper). Aikins, a Canadian journalist living in Kabul, develops a deep friendship with an Afghan translator (and hopeless romantic) named Omar. In 2016, when Omar decides to flee Afghanistan, Aikins joins him on the ÒsmugglerÕs roadÓ from Afghanistan to Europe, passing undercover as an Afghan named Habib. Together they traverse mountains and seas, crossing borders both physical and emotional to reach a better life in Europe, a promise that grows more illusory the closer it looms – an asymptote of possibility. I clenched my jaw at AikinsÕs sharp descriptions of fantastic risk, at his and OmarÕs endless performances, furtive deceits, lovesick vows. Then I showed my driverÕs license to a man at a desk who looked at it briefly, glanced at my face, and nodded me through a security gate, without a bribe or a fight or a foot chase.


Before my trip I had just finished Belladonna (New Directions, translated by Celia Hawkesworth), a novel by the Croatian writer Daša Drndić, another book about – among other things – the human costs of war. (Drndić is a major writer, and she deserves wider recognition.) Through the mind of her protagonist, Andreas Ban, Drndić catalogs the crimes of twentieth-century Europe; together they collect photographs and stories of violence, name their perpetrators, search for their victims. Andreas is a Bartleby for the world after Auschwitz, his voice a heroic refusal of catharsis: faced with the options of forgetting the horrors of the past or remembering them on HistoryÕs terms, Andreas would simply prefer not to. – Lucas


~ Staff Favorites Now in Paperback ~



Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal (Picador, translated by Jessica Moore)

The Promise by Damon Galgut (Europa)

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (Vintage)

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove)

Outlawed by Anna North (Bloomsbury)

The Life of the Mind by Christine Smallwood (Hogarth)



A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House)

The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen (Picador, translated by Tiina Nunnally and Michael Favala Goldman)

Water, Wood, and Wild Things by Hannah Kirshner (Penguin)

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (Random House)


~ Signed Editions ~



Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou (Penguin Press)

Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James (Riverhead)

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage)

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (Knopf)

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart (Random House)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Penguin)

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (Viking)

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Penguin)

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (Copper Canyon)

On Earth WeÕre Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Penguin)

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Anchor)

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara (Anchor)

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)



I Was Better Last Night by Harvey Fierstein (Knopf)

The Wok by J. Kenji L—pez-Alt (W.W. Norton)

That Sounds So Good by Carla Lalli Music (Clarkson Potter)

Marvelous Manhattan by Reggie Nadelson (Artisan)

The Art of Walking Manhattan Sideways by Betsy Bober Polivy and Gabriella Sanchez (Polivision)

Walking Manhattan Sideways by Betsy Bober Polivy (Polivision)

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz (Random House)


~ The Three Lives & Company Bestseller List ~ 


1. Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Grove)

2. Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press)

3. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)

4. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage)

5. The Candy House by Jennifer Egan (Scribner)

6. When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut (New York Review Books, translated by Adrian Nathan West)

7. Intimacies by Katie Kitamura (Riverhead)

8. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (Knopf)

9. Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au (New Directions)

10. No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead)