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Jana Siciliano


Jana Siciliano

Jana Siciliano is a writer and filmmaker. Her company, Thieving Granny Productions, creates film projects for non-profit companies, instructs children ages 4-18 in creating original films and graphic novels, and is hard at work writing her own first novel.

Jana Siciliano

Reviews by Jana Siciliano

by Mark Kurlansky - Cooking, History, Nonfiction

Flourishing in just about every climate and culture around the world, onions have provided the essential basis not only for sautés, stews and sauces, but for medicines, metaphors and folklore. Now they're Mark Kurlansky's most flavorful infatuation yet as he sets out to explore how and why the crop reigns from Italy to India and everywhere in between. Featuring historical images and his own pen-and-ink drawings, Kurlansky begins with the science and history of the only sulfuric acid-spewing plant, then digs through its 20 varieties and the cultures built around them. Entering the kitchen, he celebrates the raw, roasted, creamed, marinated and pickled. THE CORE OF AN ONION also includes a recipe section featuring more than 100 dishes from around the world.

written by Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Asa Yoneda - Fiction, Women's Fiction

Yayoi, a 19-year-old woman from a seemingly loving middle-class family, lately has been haunted by the feeling that she has forgotten something important from her childhood. Her premonition grows stronger day by day. As if led by it, she decides to move in with her mysterious aunt, Yukino. For as long as Yayoi can remember, Yukino has lived alone in an old gloomy single-family home. When she is not working, she spends all day in her pajamas, clipping her nails and trimming her split ends. She sometimes wakes Yayoi at 2am to be her drinking companion and watches Friday the 13th over and over to comfort herself. A child study desk, old stuffed animals --- things Yukino wants to forget --- are piled up in her backyard like a graveyard of her memories.

by Hilary Mantel - Memoir, Nonfiction

In addition to her celebrated career as a novelist, Hilary Mantel contributed for years to newspapers and journals, unspooling stories from her own life and illuminating the world as she found it. A MEMOIR OF MY FORMER SELF collects the finest of this writing over four decades. Her subjects are wide-ranging, sharply observed and beautifully rendered. She discusses nationalism and her own sense of belonging; our dream life popping into our conscious life; the many themes that feed into her novels --- revolutionary France, psychics, Tudor England; and other novelists, from Jane Austen to V.S. Naipaul. She writes fiercely and heartbreakingly about the battles with her health that she endured as a young woman, and the stifling years she found herself living in Saudi Arabia.

by Jesmyn Ward - Fiction, Historical Fiction

LET US DESCEND is a reimagining of American slavery --- a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation. Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with spirits: of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take.

written by Jhumpa Lahiri, translated by the author with Todd Portnowitz - Fiction, Short Stories, Women's Fiction

Rome is the protagonist, not the setting, of Jhumpa Lahiri's nine stories. In “The Boundary,” one family vacations in the Roman countryside, though we see their lives through the eyes of the caretaker’s daughter, who nurses a wound from her family’s immigrant past. In “P’s Parties,” a Roman couple, now empty nesters, finds comfort and community with foreigners at their friend’s yearly birthday gathering --- until the husband crosses a line. And in “The Steps,” on a public staircase that connects two neighborhoods and the residents who climb up and down it, we see Italy’s capital in all of its social and cultural variegations, filled with the tensions of a changing city: visibility and invisibility, random acts of aggression, the challenge of straddling worlds and cultures, and the meaning of home.

by Eliza Clark - Fiction

On a beach in a run-down seaside town on the Yorkshire coastline, 16-year-old Joan Wilson is set on fire by three other schoolgirls. Nearly a decade after the horrifying murder, journalist Alec Z. Carelli has written the definitive account of the crime, drawn from hours of interviews with witnesses and family members, painstaking historical research and, most notably, correspondence with the killers themselves. The result is a riveting snapshot of lives rocked by tragedy, and a town left in turmoil. But how much of the story is true?

by Bernie Taupin - Memoir, Nonfiction

Half of one of the greatest creative partnerships in popular music, Bernie Taupin is the man who wrote the lyrics for Elton John, who conceived the ideas that spawned countless hits. Together they were a duo, a unit, an immovable object. Their extraordinary, half-century-and-counting creative relationship has been chronicled in biopics (like 2019's Rocketman) and even John's own autobiography, ME. But Taupin, a famously private person, has kept his own account of their adventures close to his chest, until now. SCATTERSHOT allows the reader to witness events unfolding from Taupin's singular perspective --- sometimes front and center, sometimes from the edge, yet always described vibrantly, with an infectious energy that only a vivid songwriter's prose could offer.

by Yiyun Li - Fiction, Short Stories

A grieving mother makes a spreadsheet of everyone she’s lost. Elsewhere, a professor develops a troubled intimacy with her hairdresser. And every year, a restless woman receives an email from a strange man twice her age and several states away. In Yiyun Li’s stories, people strive for an ordinary existence until doing so becomes unsustainable, until the surface cracks and the grand mysterious forces --- death, violence, estrangement --- come to light. And even everyday life is laden with meaning, studded with indelible details: a filched jar of honey, a mound of wounded ants, a photograph kept hidden for many years, until it must be seen.

by Brando Skyhorse - Dystopian, Fiction

After years of drifting apart, Iris Prince and her husband are going through a surprisingly drama-free divorce. It feels like her life is finally exactly what she wants it to be. Then, one beautiful morning, she looks outside her kitchen window --- and sees that a wall has appeared in her front yard overnight. Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley startup has launched a high-tech wrist wearable called "the Band." Pitched as a convenient, eco-friendly tool to help track local utilities and replace driver's licenses and IDs, the Band is available only to those who can prove parental citizenship. Suddenly, Iris, a proud second-generation Mexican American, is now of "unverifiable origin." Amid a climate of fear and hate-fueled violence, Iris must confront how far she'll go to protect what matters to her most.

by Lauren Groff - Fiction, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

A servant girl escapes from a colonial settlement in the wilderness. She carries nothing with her but her wits, a few possessions, and the spark of god that burns hot within her. What she finds in this terra incognita is beyond the limits of her imagination and will bend her belief in everything that her own civilization has taught her. THE VASTER WILDS is a work of raw and prophetic power that tells the story of America in miniature, through one girl at a hinge point in history, to ask how --- and if --- we can adapt quickly enough to save ourselves.