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Oscar Villalon

Oscar Villalon

Oscar Villalon is book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. A member of the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle, he's also a long-time juror of the California Book Awards, sponsored by the Commonwealth Club. His writing has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review and The Believer, and his reviews have aired on KQED's The California Report. He lives with his wife and son in San Francisco.

  • Harlem Renaissance writer Eric Walrond's 1926 story collection, Tropic Death, is being reissued after decades out of print. Reviewer Oscar Villalon says the stories are "disturbing reminders of how utterly vulnerable we are to the injustices of the heart and of community."
  • In Our Kind of Traitor, former British intelligence officer John le Carre uses his unmatched knowledge of crime and psychology to spin a smooth and satisfying spy thriller about multinational money laundering and greed.
  • In her debut novel, Vida, Patricia Engel explores one woman's struggle to define her own life in a hard-boiled world of loss and disappointment. With searing and unsentimental prose, Engel demonstrates just how easy it is to stiffen into a person you never wanted to be.
  • On March 3, 1943, 173 people were crushed to death in a stairwell leading to a London air-raid shelter. The crowd was mostly made up of women and children. In her tender and sorrowful novel, Jessica Francis Kane meditates on the disaster, and how humans try to make sense of inexplicable events.
  • Former foreign correspondent Dan Fesperman returns with his latest exotic thriller, this time set among the indoor ski slopes and desert strip malls of Dubai. Critic Oscar Villalon says the novel is terrific entertainment, but the book really shines in its dissection of the strange conflicts and contradictions of Dubai's culture.
  • Nicholas Carr asks us to look up from our laptops long enough to appreciate the way multitasking and technology are changing the way we think. In his book The Shallows, he laments all that we are losing in exchange for our dynamic, interconnected, Internet-fueled world.
  • Author and video game aficionado Tom Bissell is just one of millions of kids who grew up with console games and never abandoned the hobby. In his new book, Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, he describes the creative choices that go into creating the virtual worlds of mayhem and fantasy.
  • In his poetic noir novel, Martin Solares uses the sinister connection between the murder of a journalist and the serial slayings of young girls to explore the grim side of Mexican politics, history and human nature.
  • Finnish-Estonian novelist Sofi Oksanen uses a newly formed bond between an escaped Russian sex slave and a solitary Estonian woman to explore the ways decades of Soviet rule ravaged life in the former USSR.
  • A delicious comedy of miscommunication, Percival Everett's I Am Not Sidney Poitier takes on racism and its absurdities. It's a freewheeling coming-of-age, and one of the funniest, most original stories to be published in years.