“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain
Dallas author Ben Fountain has a huge hit on his hands with his critically-acclaimed first novel “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” Returning Iraqi War veteran, Billy Lynn, sees America through the eyes of a war-weary soldier. He experiences a surrealistic Dallas Cowboy Thanksgiving Day game honoring soldiers during the extravagant halftime show. Class and privilege with Jerry Jones-style Americana is a stark contrast to the realities of war and the Americans who fight them. Locals will enjoy trying to figure out which Dallas millionaires Billy Lynn confronts in the book. More importantly, the reader will find it gripping and provocative.
“Honor in the Dust” by Gregg Jones
Pulitzer-Prize nominated former Dallas Morning News journalist Gregg Jones’ first novel “Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Dream” is receiving rave reviews. Written in a lively narrative style that is difficult to put down, the reader will instantly see the historic parallels the war in the Philippines during the early 1900s has with the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Spanish-American War elevated Theodore Roosevelt to an iconic status. When President William McKinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became the youngest U.S. President in history. He believed in imperialism and began fighting Spain for control in the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Philippines proved to be a dark chapter in American history and this book captures it perfectly.
“Echoes of the Lost Boys of Sudan” by Dr. Susan Clark and James Disco
“Echoes of the Lost Boys of Sudan” is a powerful graphic novel about the genocide in Sudan and the escape of hundreds of young boys from the Sudanese army from the north. The book describes the harrowing journey of four boys from two different villages, their life in the Kakuma Refugee Camp and eventual arrival in America. Their story, told to Dr. Susan Clark in a simple yet powerful language, is almost lyrical in nature. The illustrations, by Niki Singleton, convey the horror of the war in a PG-13 context. Some of the boys nearly drowned during their escape while lions attacked some of the others. All of the children suffered from near starvation. This novel is very relevant with current problems in the newly-formed country of South Sudan. Actor and human-rights activist, George Clooney, is keeping the world aware of these issues and recently helped found the Satellite Sentinel Project to track military movements.
“The Loom” by Shella Gillus
“The Loom” is a powerful first novel by Dallasite Shella Gillus. It is the story of Lydia, a light-complexioned slave on a Maryland plantation, who escapes and uses her appearance to change her life. The loom references a space on plantations where pregnant women and slaves who were no longer able to work in the fields come to weave fabric. Arriving to the loom space also indicates to the slaves that their days are numbered. In “The Loom,” Gillus creates a place of no escape that adds to her character Lydia’s desire to leave the world of slavery. Nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work—Debut Author category, the debut novel is highly praised by critics.
“Bright and Distant Shores” by Dominic Smith
Southern Methodist University’s visiting creative writing professor Dominic Smith’s new book “Bright and Distant Shores” is receiving high praise. It is a 19th-century historic novel about America and tribal Pacific culture that takes the protagonist on voyages to Melanesia for tribal weaponry and handicrafts. Compared to works by Herman Melville and Robert Lewis Stevenson, Smith’s well-researched novel depicts the greed and hunger of museums and private collectors for artifacts, the beauty of the South Seas and the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Selected for Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2011 and winning awards in his native Australia, “Bright and Distant Shores” is an entertaining read for those loving adventure and history.
What are your favorite books by DFW authors? Share them in the comments section below.