Culture

Your holiday reading list: Great novels by 2013 TED speakers

Posted by: Jessica Gross

Holiday-books-mainPacking up for your holiday trip home? For the downtime from eggnog, food and family, consider bringing a couple of these excellent novels from TED speakers whose talks were published this year.

  1. Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel, The Age of Miracles, quickly took off when it was published last year. Walker imagines a world in which the rotation of the earth progressively slows down, with serious consequences. In her TED Talk, Walker discusses the creative potential that fear holds. After all, what is The Age of Miracles if not a beautifully written nightmare?
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  2. Babyji, by Abha Dawesar, is a coming-of-age story that follows Anamika Sharma, a student in 1980s Delhi. The 2005 novel, which won the Barbara Gittings Prize in Literature/Stonewall Award from the American Library Association and a Lambda Literary Prize, “achieves an impressive balance between moral inquiry and decadent pleasure,” Publisher’s Weekly declared. Watch Dawesar’s talk on how technology has fractured our experience of time.
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  3. When Pico Iyer published his first novel, Cuba and the Night, in 1996, he’d already written three travel books. Set in Havana, this novel shows the depth of his travel-writing experience, offering what The New York Times called “atmospheric and haunting glimpses of life in the Cuban countryside.” Watch Iyer’s talk on the meaning of home.
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  4. Korean novelist Young-ha Kim’s latest book, Black Flower, follows Korean emigrants forced into slave labor in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in 1905. Watch Kim’s talk on why we should all make art right now, and read excerpts from Black Flower and Kim’s other works.
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  5. For family reading, turn to Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady series. The graphic novel series follows the adventurous, crime-fighting double life of a school lunch lady. In his TED talk, Krosoczka describes his journey to becoming a children’s book author and illustrator.
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  6. Canadian spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan’s novel in verse, Stickboy, tells the story of a bullied child who becomes a bully himself. Watch Koyczan perform his poem “To This Day” with violin accompaniment on the TED stage.
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  7. Software developer-cum-novelist Daniel Suarez’s newest cyberthriller, Kill Decision, pushes the reality of our technological war efforts a little bit further than reality. In his talk, Suarez describes the dangers of autonomous robotic weapons.
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  8. By day, Andrew Fitzgerald works with journalists and news organizations at Twitter; by night, he’s a novelist and journalist himself. The Collective is his 2010 novel. In his talk, Fitzgerald draws from both lives in an exploration of Twitter fiction.