Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel by Annie Cohen-Solal (Yale University Press, 296 pages, March 10)
You probably know Rothko from his canvases that feature bright, horizontal swathes of color. But did you know that he was born a Jew in Eastern Europe? After coming to the U.S. when he was ten, Rothko moved beyond his Talmudic education and memories of pogroms to become a pioneer in American art. Cohen-Solal tells us the story of this dedicated, controversial artist.
The Life of William Apess, Pequot by Philip F. Gura (The University of North Carolina Press, 216 pages, March 10)
I first came across Apess in a Native American lit class, and found him and his writings fascinating. A writer and itinerant preacher, Apess, a Pequot Indian, converted to Methodism and became a lecturer, protesting against the treatment of Native Americans in New England and beyond during the 19th century. His autobiography, A Son of the Forest (1829), is the first such published by a Native American writer. Gura's biography promises to fill us in on the life and times of this brilliant speaker and orator.