Book Club: Silvia Morena-Garcia reimagines a sci-fi classic with feminist kick

FOB 2022: Silvia Moreno-Garcia Feature
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
(Martin Dee; Del Rey)

Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter.

This month we’re escaping to a remote Caribbean outpost with “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau,” the new thriller from Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

Like her previous bestsellers, the story is a glorious mash-up of genres, a shapeshifting, atmospheric, historical science fiction novel. It reimagines the H.G. Wells classic relocated to the rainforests of the Yucatan Peninsula.

In the tradition of Wells and other early science-fiction writers, Moreno-Garcia also explores social upheaval in her work, but with probing, contemporary questions about fairness and equality. “Unlike them, she is much more fully attuned to those long left out of such conversations (and books),” says Times reviewer Paula L. Woods.

“‘The Daughter of Doctor Moreau’ shifts the readers’ gaze to those often marginalized or completely ignored in literature and history — whether they be an independent-minded daughter absent from the original story, Doctor Moreau’s hybrid creatures or those Mayan rebels in 1870s Mexico.”

Says Washington Post reviewer Carol Memmott, “What Moreno-Garcia really does, though, is explore who the real monsters are in the world.”


On Sept. 27, Moreno-Garcia will join book club readers for a virtual conversation with Times editor Steve Padilla starting at 6 p.m. PDT. Sign up on Eventbrite for watch links and autographed books.

Along with reading “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau,” check out author Alex Espinoza’s book list for more suggested reading for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Espinoza, who grew up in La Puenta reading assigned books filled with poor English orphans and jilted Victorian brides, shares 11 books — stories by well-known Latinx authors such as Hector Tobar and by Yxta Maya Murray and others by writers he’s discovered more recently. “Of course, no reading list is ever complete, no list ever able to capture the range of our collective experiences as a people,” Espinoza says. “But I chose these, a mix of conventional and unorthodox narratives, to illustrate the scope of our literary capabilities.

Book clubbers: Tell us what other books and authors you’d add to this Latinx reading list. Send your comments in an email to

Photo illustration by Jerome Adamstein / Los Angeles Times

Q&A: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Born in Mexico and now living in Vancouver, Silvia Moreno-Garcia shared some of her favorite reads and diversions ahead of book club night.


Last books that kept you up at night: “Some Rise by Sin” by Sion Scott-Wilson, “Helpmeet” by Naben Ruthnum

The writer or writers who most influenced you: H.P. Lovecraft, Flaubert

Favorite novel: “The Age of Innocence”

Favorite book you read as a child: “The Stories of Ray Bradbury”

Favorite place to read? Bed

Must-watch TV? The Criterion Channel

Favorite music right now: July Talk

Next adventure: Writing a screenplay and seeing if I can sell it

Next project: “Silver Nitrate,” a horror novel out 2023

Art for the top of the digital books listings for the fall preview/
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times; Manuel Muñoz; Todd Cooper / For The TimesLettering by Angela Southern, For The Times

Keep reading

Fall preview picks: Check out 30 books we can’t wait for this fall, plus 10 new releases for your September reading list.

Her jazz story: L.A. writer Laura Warrell talks about the music and heartbreak that inspired her debut novel, “Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm.”

Booker Prizes: Los Angeles author and USC English professor Percival Everett is among six novelists who made the Booker Prize shortlist this week for his 2021 book, “The Trees.” In a new interview, Everett discusses his upcoming book, “Dr. No.”

Battling book bans: With libraries under threat, the National Book Foundation’s annual Literarian Award goes to Watts-raised librarian Tracie D. Hall. “My grandparents both struggled with low literacy, and because of that they were avid that I would be a reader and a lover of books and ideas,” says Hall, now the executive director of the American Library Assn. “It felt like a full-circle moment.” This will be the second consecutive year the Literarian Award goes to a librarian; last year’s honoree was Seattle author and librarian Nancy Pearl, who launched the common read movement.

Book ban wave: Join author George M. Johnson, student activist Madison Clevenger, parent and advocate Brooke Harper and historian Michael Hines for a virtual discussion about educational censorship in Southern California. Columnist Patt Morrison will moderate the Sept. 20 event, presented by the Times Idea Exchange and PEN America.

New release: Paula L. Woods talks with ‘South Central Noir’ contributors Gary Phillips, Tananarive Due, Gar Anthony Haywood, Naomi Hirahara, Emory Holmes II and Roberto Lovato about how the new anthology came together and captured the region’s rich history.

The Adele of audiobooks: If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you may already know the voice of Julia Whelan. The Palm Springs author and actress narrates Gillian Flynn’s thriller “Gone Girl,” Tara Westover’s memoir “Educated” and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novels “Malibu Rising” and “Carrie Soto Is Back,” among more than 400 other titles. The New Yorker calls Whelan the “Adele of Audiobooks.” In August she released a new novel, “Thank You for Listening,” about a former actress turned successful audiobook narrator. Guess who reads it?

Appreciation: Barbara Ehrenreich, the groundbreaking ‘Nickel and Dimed’ author who died this week, showed us how much it cost to be broke.

RIP Peter Straub: The influential horror author and Stephen King collaborator died this week at 79.

Booked: The new L.A. Times Book Club merch is here, and includes hats, socks, crewnecks and more.

‘California Soul’ stories

Chef Keith Corbin, right, discusses "California Soul" with Times Food editor Daniel Hernandez.
Chef Keith Corbin, right, discusses “California Soul” with Times Food editor Daniel Hernandez.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles chef Keith Corbin joined the L.A. Times Book Club on Aug. 23 to discuss his memoir, “California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival.” Corbin talked about family, food, addiction, the gangster life and the power of second chances in a conversation with Times Food editor Daniel Hernandez at the ASU California Center.

“My love for food started with spending time with my grandmother in the kitchen,” Corbin told the audience. “It was all about big cooks and feeding the block.”

ICYMI: Watch book club night now.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives on the third day of the Royal Ascot horse race meeting in 2018.
Queen Elizabeth arrives at the Royal Ascot horse race meeting in 2018. Horse racing a favorite for her.
(Tim Ireland / Associated Press)

Reading the Royals

After Britain’s Queen Elizabeth died on Thursday at 96, Los Angeles Public Library patrons raced to read about the queen and the history of the royal family.

On Thursday and Friday, readers checked 30 royal titles on Overdrive, said library spokesman Justin Pearson. A sampling: Five copies of “Queen of Our Times” were gone and listed as “Available Soon,” while 12 copies of “Diana, William, and Harry” showed an eight-week wait. All eight copies of “The Dark Queens” were gone too. However, two of six copies of “Prince Charles” were still available Friday afternoon.

“Queen Elizabeth leaves behind a legacy like no other,” says city librarian John Szabo. “And our patrons have definitely shown an immense interest in this topic, as shown by the volume of materials that they are borrowing pertaining to it.”