Arts & Culture


The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s
Maggie Doherty ’07
(Alfred A. Knopf, $28.95)
In 1960, Radcliffe College president and accomplished microbiologist Mary Ingraham Bunting initiated a “messy experiment” known as the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study. This incubator for “intellectually displaced” women provided financial support, a community, and the proverbial “room of her own” for a select group: women who held either a doctorate or “the equivalent in creative achievement.” Historian Doherty offers a portrait of five “equivalents” in the first group: poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, writer Tillie Olsen, painter Barbara Swan, and sculptor Marianna Pineda.

The Secret Language of Cells: What Biological Conversations Tell Us About the Brain-Body Connection, the Future of Medicine, and Life Itself
Jon Lieff ’66.
(BenBella Books, $26.95)
“The greatest secret of modern biological science, hiding in plain sight, is that all of life’s activity occurs because of conversations among cells,” declares neuropsychiatrist Lieff. In this fascinating tour, the researcher offers an “everyday English” exploration of how cells in the body, the brain, the microbes, and other components of the natural world engage in a nonstop dialogue that reveals “the central place of cellular signaling” in sickness and in health.

Louis Kahn: A Life in Architecture
Carter Wiseman ’68.
(University of Virginia Press, $26.95)
Tracking the rise and transcendence of architect Louis Kahn, Wiseman guides the reader through the evolution of twentieth-century architecture: from the eclipse of the traditionalists through the ascension of modernists like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, and to Kahn’s own landmark buildings, culminating in his design for Yale’s Center for British Art. “Kahn was able to combine his formal training in traditional Western architecture with an intuitive sense of historical memory,” writes Wiseman, honoring Kahn’s “moral commitment to the betterment of humankind” and his “consummate artistry.”  

Invisible Years: A Family’s Collected Account of Separation and Survival During the Holocaust in the Netherlands
Daphne Geismar ’90MFA
(David R. Godine, $40)
During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the author’s relatives, all Jews, attempted to survive by becoming onderduikers, Dutch for “people in hiding.” Using collections of journal extracts, official papers, memoirs, photographs, and other artifacts lurking in her family’s “Holocaust drawer[s]”—along with extensive historical research and interviews with some of the people doing the concealing—Geismar, an award-winning book designer, has put together a haunting narrative.

The Exiles: A Novel
Christina Baker Kline ’86
(HarperCollins Publishers, $27.99)
When Evangeline Stokes, the heroine in Kline’s latest tale, takes a job as governess to a well-to-do London family in 1840, life appears to be looking up for the “sheltered, unworldly” young woman. But, soon enough, pregnant and falsely accused of stealing an heirloom ring, she lands in a horrifyingly real Newgate Prison and is then transported, with other female prisoners, toward the penal colonies of Tasmania. Transformed by what she had faced, Evangeline “felt as flinty as an arrowhead. As strong as stone.” But would it be enough to enable her and her growing baby, along with the convict friends she made in prison and shipboard, to survive? Read on in this beautifully crafted page-turner.

Virgil Thomson: Portraits, Self-Portraits and Songs
Anthony Tommasini ’70, ’72MusM
(Everbest Music and Media, CD $24.99; streaming on Apple Music, Spotify, others)
Tommasini is the late Virgil Thomson’s biographer and, as a New York Times music critic, continues to champion the composer’s work. A pianist and a buddy of Thomson’s, he brings a rare insight to the intimate musical “portraits” inspired by the self-proclaimed neoromanticist’s close friends. Knowledge and respect pours forth from this reissue of two albums that Tommasini originally released in the 1990s.

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