Poet and translator Idra Novey brings a considerable imagination to her first work of fiction, Ways to Disappear, in which the disappearance of a famous novelist upends the life of her American translator.
Novelist and essayist Darryl Pinckney draws on the legacy of Christopher Isherwood’s 1930s expat classic, The Berlin Stories, in his second novel, Black Deutschland. Pinckney’s young, African-American narrator, Jed Goodfinch, makes repeated visits to Berlin in the decade before the Berlin Wall falls in 1989. Unlike Isherwood’s characters, however, Jed can openly state that the city’s thriving gay community is a big part of its appeal.
Tessa Hadley is an alchemist, transforming everyday life into the stuff of brilliant fiction. In previous stories and novels, like 2014’s Clever Girl, the British writer has captured the beauty, messiness and irony of family life, especially marriages. Her new novel, The Past, keeps to the domestic sphere, examining the lives of four adult siblings who gather at a country house for the summer.
Paradise City, which opens with a quote from the Guns N’ Roses song praising the virtues of a place full of possibilities, is a compassionate but upbeat look at four interlocking lives in contemporary London. The novel is both thoughtful and witty, unafraid of tackling big subjects (sexual assault, political asylum) even as it finds joy in small human connections.
In lesser hands, the story told in Mary Gaitskill’s The Mare would be sentimental or even clichéd. An emotionally needy white woman takes in a tough inner-city girl whose life is transformed when she learns to ride horses at the neighboring stables. Cue the swelling music as the girl and horse ride into the sunset. But Gaitskill, whose novels and short stories have always delved full force into the most uncomfortable of situations, has instead produced a complex and nuanced look at love, loss and limitations.
For more than 400 years, Shakespeare’s works have been performed throughout the world— retold, reinterpreted and reinvented for each generation. Now, the Hogarth Shakespeare series is giving that opportunity to several of the most acclaimed contemporary novelists of our day. British writer Jeanette Winterson is the first to take on the challenge with The Gap of Time, a refashioning of The Winter’s Tale. Winterson’s own experience as an adopted child gives a special meaning to this story of an abandoned daughter.
Lauren Groff explored the strengths of community in her first two novels, The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia. In Fates and Furies, she narrows her focus to the ultimate microcosm: a marriage. Told in two parts, first by a husband and then a wife, this unsettling novel looks at the myriad ways even the most devoted of couples keep secrets, betray one another and risk deceiving themselves.
Parnaz Foroutan’s debut, The Girl from the Garden, explores the fortunes of the Malacoutis, a wealthy Jewish family in Iran at the turn of the 20th century, as remembered by the family’s only surviving daughter, Mahboubeh. Now elderly and living in Los Angeles, Mahboubeh wanders her garden, awash in memories that seem more real than her California home.
Susan Barker’s daring new novel, The Incarnations, begins in 2008, just months before the opening of the Beijing Olympics. The city is grimy and polluted behind the burst of new construction. After nights spent in the dense traffic of the city’s multiple ring roads, taxi driver Wang returns home exhausted to his wife and daughter. A rare visit with his invalid father and vicious stepmother, an aging femme fatale, doesn’t add much pleasure to Wang’s already lonely existence, but things take a turn for the bizarre when an anonymous letter, tucked into the visor of his cab, assures Wang that he is the reincarnated soul mate of the sender.
Rebecca Makkai’ s novels—The Borrower and The Hundred Year House—have established her as one of the most talented literary voices today. Her short fiction has been selected for The Best American Short Stories four years in a row. Now the acclaimed writer returns with Music for Wartime, an anticipated collection of short stories, several of which were inspired by the lives of her paternal grandparents.