Lots of reading to do before authors arrive in Atlanta

Shelf Life

As usual, I need more time for reading. In this case, I need to finish three fairly long and involved novels before the authors arrive in Atlanta in the next week or so.

Michael Chabon, author of "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" (HarperCollins, $26.95) will appear at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Barnes and Noble store in Buckhead. The store is located at 2900 Peachtree Road in Atlanta. Call 404-261-7747 or visit www.barnesandnoble.com.

Chabon is one of my favorite writers, but I haven't yet cracked the cover of his latest novel. OK, to be totally honest, I don't even have a copy of it yet. Still, I already know that the story will be worth reading even though it's incredibly complex.

From what I understand, in "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," Chabon constructs a what-if scenario that imagines Alaska becoming a homeland for Jewish people displaced during World War II instead of Israel. However, all Jews without the appropriate paperwork are now being evicted from Jewish Alaska. During this chaotic time, a police detective is trying to find out who murdered a rabbi's disgraced son.

Though I know picking up Chabon's books require a major commitment, I still love his work. His "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" (Picador, $15) is one of the most interesting and elaborate books I've ever read.

I doubt I'll get around to "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Thursday, but I do plan to read it as soon as possible.

I have a little longer to tackle Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns" (Riverhead, $25.95). He is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. May 28 at Georgia Perimeter College in Clarkston.

Hosseini is the author of "The Kite Runner" (Riverhead, $14), which was a Gwinnett Daily Post Book Club pick in January 2005. The imagery of "The Kite Runner" was so vivid, I can still see the scenes in the book that depict the intense and dangerous kite fights of Afghanistan.

I can only imagine that "A Thousand Splendid Suns" will be equally intense. This novel, which is also set in Afghanistan, covers 30 years of the country's history and depicts the lives of two generations of characters.

The third book I need to read is Marisha Pessi's "Special Topics in Calamity Physics" (Penguin, $15). She'll be talking about her work at 7 p.m. May 29 at the Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore St. in Decatur. Call 404-370-8450, ext. 2225, or visit www.georgiacenterforthebook.org.

Though I've wanted to read "Special Topics in Calamity Physics," which just came out in paperback, since it was published a few years ago, I'm worried it might be a little hard to understand. I've heard that the author uses countless literary references throughout the novel, including chapters named after classic works. What if I just don't get all that?

But now that I have less than two weeks until the author arrives, perhaps I'll finally rise to the challenge.

Whether I meet my goals or not, you can bet I'll be spending a lot of time with these novels in the next few days. So, if you happen to be looking for me, move the tall stack of books on my kitchen table. I'll be sitting right behind them, reading.

If you'd like to recommend a book or writer, e-mail Rachael Mason at rachael.mason@gwinnettdailypost.com.