Creative Nonfiction for 2024
Leslie Jamison, the New York Times bestselling author of The Recovering, The Empathy Exams, and Make It Scream, Make It Burn, has a new memoir that explores rebuilding a life after the end of a marriage. This is fertile Jamison territory, exploring her intense love of her young daughter, finding new love in middle age, and how the life of an artist affects this journey. In her blurb for the book, Meghan O’Rourke wrote: “Splinters is a stunning portrait of the intricate tapestry of human emotions. On every page, in exquisite prose, Jamison unearths moments of luminosity and grace amid pain. Giving language to fundamental experiences of love, grief, and parenthood all too often skirted past, this book is essential reading for anyone who cares about the power of language to help us find solace and recompense.”
Manjula Martin moved from San Francisco to a rural property in the Northern California forest. There had always been a fire season, but as of 2020 the fires were out-of-control and threatening her life and home. “Above the redwoods fathomless clouds lingered like silence,” she writes. “From inside them the furious sky hurled its energy at millions of acres of dry, deep wood. I had never seen so many lightning strikes. The blades of electricity bisected the air, the earth, everything.” The message: that society has so ignored the effects of climate change that, in the case of wildfires, they may one day consume us all. Her publisher describes it as: H Is for Hawk meets Joan Didion in the Pyrocene in this arresting combination of memoir, natural history, and literary inquiry…
Lucy Santes was a restless kid growing up in a conservative Catholic family transplanted from Belgium to the U.S. She moved to New York in the ’70s and fell in with a crowd of bohemian artists, many of whom succumbed to drugs or AIDS. Despite living hard, Lucy established a career as a writer but still felt she was living a performative life. In a recent Vanity Fair essay, she recalled playing with a selfie app on her phone when she swapped the gender of a profile picture of herself as a man. “Something took over,” she wrote, “a wave of pure momentum that persists even now, on good days overriding my always-crippling self-consciousness… It converted insight into imperative.” Her memoir combines the extraordinary story of how Sante navigated a creative life and eventually confronted her gender identity and began her transition into the woman she always was.
Taiwanese-born Grace Loh Prasad was two when her parents, fearing political persecution by the country’s dictatorship, fled to the U.S. and settled in San Francisco. When her father, a translator, and mother returned to Tawian, and her mother developed Alzheimer’s, Prasad realized she would have to explore her heritage and forge a connection she’d never had with her birthplace. From what I’ve read about it, Prasad explores the meaning of memory, loss, and a search for belonging in a rich and complex memoir.