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November 25, 2019

In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a Sri Lankan cookbook, a guide for transgender Christians, a biography of a burlesque dancer, and others.


A Feast of Serendib: Recipes From Sri Lanka

Mary Anne Mohanraj

Synopsis: Mohanraj introduces readers to the comforting cuisine of Sri Lanka in this collection of recipes.

PW’s Takeaway: This is a terrific survey of an overlooked cuisine.

Comparable Title: Peter Kuruvita’s Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen

Sample Line: “We come together with other Sri Lankans—homelander and diaspora, Sinhalese and Tamil, Buddhist and Hindu and Christian and Muslim—over delicious shared meals.”



Otherwise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation

Chris Paige

Synopsis: In this invigorating dive into scripture, Paige affirms support for transgender experience.

PW’s Takeaway: A treasure chest of resources.

Comparable Title: Austen Hartke’s Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians

Sample Line: “The world finds a plethora of ways to tell us that we are unworthy of love.”



The Painted Cross

Hunter Dennis

Synopsis: A distinguished sequel to The Crimson Heirlooms.

PW’s Takeaway: This epic treasure hunt is well worth readers’ time.

Comparable Title: Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum



Barefoot to the Chin: The Fantastic Life of Sally Rand

Jim Lowe

Synopsis: Lowe delivers an exhaustive and entertaining biography.

PW’s Takeaway: An enlightening book about an obscure entertainer.

Comparable Title: Leslie Zemeckis’s Feuding Fan Dancers




Sharon Gloger Friedman

Synopsis: Early-20th-century Russia and New York are vividly rendered in this affecting debut.

PW’s Takeaway: Friedman makes a potent statement about the resiliency of the human spirit.

Comparable Title: Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn