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Sense and Southwestern Sensibility

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Find inspiration in the pages of these five authors who bring an original perspective to our corner of the world

By Celeste Sepessy

Environmentalist and author Edward Abbey, the subject of Sean Prentiss’ National Outdoor Book Award winner, Finding Abbey. Photo by Mark Klett.
Environmentalist and author Edward Abbey, the subject of Sean Prentiss’ National Outdoor Book Award winner, Finding Abbey. Photo by Mark Klett.

If you’re looking for a new nighttime read that won’t put you to sleep, the Tucson Festival of Books has you covered. Each year, more than 130,000 readers flock to the March event to discover their next cherished writer (or meet their all-time favorites). These five authors are among the emerging voices redefining Southwestern literature.

Author: Cynthia Bond

Literary Fiction

Head to Texas in the 1950s for Bond’s debut novel, Ruby, which tackles small-town love and racial complexity in the South. It’s unsurprising this blinding first book has earned Bond comparisons to Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez.

Must Read: Ruby, an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection

Author: Sean Prentiss

Outdoorsy Exploration

Two decades after environmentalist Edward Abbey died, Prentiss hiked across the United States in search of his “hidden desert grave” in the Southwestern expanse. The result is a comprehensive account of one man’s life, and another’s quest to find it.

Must Read: Finding Abbey; The Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave, 2015 National Outdoor Book Awards winner

Author: Linda Hirshman

Transformative History

In her most recent take on women’s road to equality, lawyer and retired Brandeis professor Hirshman profiles the two most influential women to judge the law: Arizona legend Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The dual biography presents two entirely different women who make you root for the same team.

Don’t Miss: Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World, a New York Times bestseller

Author: Monica Brown

Children’s Magical Realism

Brown’s books are a Southwest staple in the class and at bedtime. The Northern Arizona University English professor’s dual-

language stories weave tales of Latino figures (Pablo Neruda and Cesar Chavez) and those of her own ingenuity, like the subject of her newest chapter book, Lola Levine Is Not Mean!

Must Read: Maya’s Blanket, a story with Yiddish folk song roots, illustrated by Caldecott-winner David Diaz

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Ecological Dystopian

The Colorado native’s latest book, The Water Knife, explores a near-future Phoenix where the quest for precious water is dangerous. The scariest part? The climate-driven plot doesn’t seem that far off from reality.

Must Read: The Windup Girl, Bacigalupi’s debut and one of Time’s Top 10 Fiction Books of 2009

Book It: Here’s what you won’t want to miss at the Tucson Festival of Books.

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