Books of the Month | Month of the Books #24

“Reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.” — Wislawa Szymborska, Nobel Prize in Literature 1996



From the author of the classic A Little Life — a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.

In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him — and solve the mys­tery of her husband’s disappearances.

These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and the­mes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.

To Paradise is a fin de siecle novel of marvelous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara’s understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love — partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens — and the pain that ensues when we cannot.



Hanya Yanagihara (born 1975) is a critically acclaimed and bestselling novelist and the editor in chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Fol­lowing the publication of her debut novel, The People in the Trees — an anthropological adventure story and examination of cultural collision, colonization, and moral ambiguity–The New York Times declared Yanagihara “a writer to marvel at.” Her second work, A Little Life, was a National Book Award finalist, a Man Booker Prize finalist, and Kirkus Prize recipient. It appeared on numerous best books lists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Economist, Newsweek, and the Huffington Post among others. An astonishing odyssey of friendship, trauma, and the limits of solace; it has gone on to become a cultural phenomenon. Her latest novel To Paradise debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.




One of Wharton’s most famous novels — the first by a woman to win the Pulitzer Prize —exquisitely details a tragic struggle between love and responsibility in Gilded Age New York.

Newland Archer, an aristocratic young lawyer, is engaged to the cloistered, beautiful May Welland. But when May’s cousin Ellen arrives from Europe, fleeing her failed marriage to a Polish count, her worldly and independent nature intrigues and unsettles Archer. Trapped by his passionless relationship with May and the social conventions that forbid a relationship with the disgraced Ellen, Archer is torn between possibility and duty. Wharton’s profound understanding of her characters’ lives makes the triangle of Archer, May, and Ellen both urgent and poignant. An incisive look at the ways desire and emotion must negotiate the complex rules of society, The Age of Innocence is one of Wharton’s most moving works.



The upper stratum of New York society into which Edith Wharton was born in 1862 pro­vided her with an abundance of material as a novelist but did not encourage her growth as an artist. Educated by tutors and governesses, she was raised for only one career: marriage. But her marriage, in 1885, to Edward Wharton was an emotional disappointment, if not a disas­ter. She suffered the first of a series of nervous breakdowns in 1894. In spite of the strain of her marriage, or perhaps because of it, she began to write fiction and published her first story in 1889. Her first published book was a guide to interior decorating, but this was followed by several novels and story collections. They were written while the Whartons lived in Newport and New York, traveled in Europe, and built their grand home, the Mount, in Lenox, Massachusetts. In Europe, she met Henry James, who became her good friend, traveling companion, and the sternest but most careful critic of her fiction. The House of Mirth (1905) was both a resounding critical suc­cess and a bestseller, as was Ethan Frome (1911). In 1913, the Whartons were divorced, and Edith took up permanent residence in France. Her sub­ject, however, remained America, especially the moneyed New York of her youth. Her great satiric novel, The Custom of the Country was published in 1913 and The Age of Innocence won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. In her later years, she enjoyed the admiration of a new generation of wri­ters, including Sinclair Lewis and F. Scott Fitzge­rald. In all, she wrote some 30 books, including an autobiography, A Backward Glance (1934). She died at her villa near Paris in 1937.




A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accusto­med to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind. Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her iden­tity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince. To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream — stri­king a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic — where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.



Sue Lynn Tan writes fantasy inspired by the myths and legends she fell in love with as a child. Born in Malaysia, she studied in London and France, before settling in Hong Kong with her family. Her debut, Daughter of the Moon God­dess, was published by Harper Voyager with a sequel to come.

@SuelynnTan |




Al Arabiya News anchor Fatima Daoui is one of the most recognizable faces in the Middle East, but she didn’t make it to the top alone. Having been supported by other women throughout her life, Fatima has written this book for the next generation of female leaders in media with the goal of helping them to win their own fight for a place at the top while staying true to themselves.

“I wrote Don’t Look Down for the bold, unconventional, ambitious woman who wants a career she loves and is willing to roll up her sleeves and knuckle down to get there. I spent years fighting for what I have today and that fight was not for nothing. I‘ve reached heights I never dreamed possible and now I’m here with this book to help you to do the same” — says Fatima.

With her book, Don’t Look Down, published by Dubai-based conscious publishers, The Dreamwork Collective, Fatima shares her hard-won wisdom to help young women at the start of their career journey. Her rich, fascinating life story unfolds in an autobiographical style, littered with anecdotes, wisdom and sage advice. The easily digestible, autobiographical book is designed to help lift the next generation of female leaders in media, with the goal of helping them to win their own fight for a place at the top while staying true to themselves. But it’s also a really good read, written by a highly-experienced, well respected journalist.