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Kristie Betts Letter ’94

Giving poetic voice to the subterranean, Letter’s collection of verse plumbs depths cultural, emotional, spiritual. Her wit matched only by her fearlessness, she mines meaning from topics as varied as Flint’s poisoned water, algebra, and the allure and vulnerability of 1980s hair-metal heartthrobs. Letter unearths universal truths wherever she looks, whether it’s a “Purple Rain”-soaked dance floor, past-their-prime would-be lovers in a singles bar, or a bingo-parlor reunion with her birth mother. Absolutely breathtaking.


J.R. McNeill ’75 and Peter Engelke
The Great Acceleration
Belknap Press

Since the mid-20th century, the Earth has ushered in an age marked by fossil fuel use—the Anthropocene—in which humans are the most powerful influence on global ecology. Co-authors McNeill and Engelke trace the planet’s environmental history since 1945, the most anomalous period in our relationship with the biosphere, and one that will, for better or worse, shape the future of every living thing on Earth. “Since we cannot exit the Anthropocene,” they conclude, “we will adjust to it, one way or another.”


Stephen Henighan ’84
The Path of the Jaguar
Thistledown Press

Determined to make a better life for her children in late-’90s Guatemala, a young mother must chart a path between her indigenous Mayan culture and the tantalizing opportunities of a nearby tourist town in this acclaimed work of fiction by Henighan, the author of three previous novels, two short-story collections, and a volume of literary criticism. “How people ruin themselves for the illusion of earthly love!” a character exclaims, its truth ringing across all ages and cultures and on every page.


Sarah Jaquette Ray ’98 and Jay Sibara ’99
Disability Studies and the Environmental Humanities
University of Nebraska Press

This co-edited, interdisciplinary reader explores the privileges inherent in the relationship between environments and bodies as well as the ways that toxicity and illness complicate their study. Spanning the 17th century to the present, Ray and Sibara establish a foundation for this far-ranging field while presenting its most recent breakthroughs. “It seems that environmental humanities and disability studies,” they write, “indeed have much to offer each other.”