Following up on 2017’s Water in May, Ismée (Bartels) Williams ’95 presents her second young-adult novel, This Train Is Being Held (Amulet Books). This Junior Library Guild Selection is a modern retelling of West Side Story in which both main characters are Latinx. Its chapters alternate between the perspectives of Alex, who has talents in both baseball and poetry, and Isa, a privileged ballerina. The two teens bond on the New York City subway amid struggles with racism, mental illness and parental pressure. Williams, a pediatric cardiologist, wrote the First Words essay in the Fall 2017 Amherst magazine.
Poet, translator and UMass professor emeritus Robert Bagg ’57 brings you Four by Euripides: Medea, Bakkhai, Hippolytus, and Cyclops (University of Massachusetts Press). Accompanied by introductions, explanatory notes and stage directions, Bagg’s new, accessible translations of the ancient Athenian plays are all rendered in iambic pentameter. The oldest of these plays, the revenge tragedy Medea, premiered in 431 B.C. Bagg’s earlier translations have been performed more than 70 times, and his 1961 poetry collection Madonna of the Cello was a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist.
“As someone with a limited loyalty to the truth, I’m often content to tell others what they want to hear if it will make my life easier, so I surprised myself by responding so bluntly, so honestly to the man who had fallen into step with me on the sidewalk in Dar es Salaam.” So begins a chapter of The Thirteenth Month (Black Lawrence Press), the first novel by Colin Hamilton ’91; his previous publications include the 1998 poetry chapbook The Memory Palace. The novel—whose title alludes to a quote from Polish writer and artist Bruno Schulz—is narrated by an avid reader who must care for his mother as she succumbs to dementia at the end of her life.