The most common advice to aspiring authors is “Write what you know.” Clearly Elisabeth Egan took this advice to heart when penning her debut novel, A Window Opens, a literary anthem for 21st-century working mothers.
“The one percent” has entered the lexicon to describe those lucky and/or greedy few for whom money is literally no object, recalling Fitzgerald’s adage that they are effectively superhuman. Robert Goolrick’s electric third novel, The Fall of Princes, instead points to Hemingway’s rejoinder: The only thing separating the rich from others is that they have more money.
It takes a writer of immense confidence and talent to fashion beautiful stories that chronicle ordinary people coping with devastating challenges. Adam Johnson demonstrated this talent in his novel The Orphan Master’s Son, which received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He now does the same in Fortune Smiles, a collection of six powerful short stories in which characters are forced to contend with some of life’s biggest tragedies.
Last Bus to Wisdom is told by an orphan. He’s Donal Cameron, a Montana boy who is 11 years old in 1951. The flinty grandmother who raised him after his parents were killed needs an operation. This means Donny needs to go live with Gram’s somewhat estranged sister in Wisconsin. To do this he has to go Greyhound or, as they said back in the day, ride the dog bus. Having ridden the dog bus fairly frequently over the years, this reviewer braced herself for a horror story.
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.
Julianna Baggot’s latest novel refuses to be confined to only one genre. Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders is a captivating multigenerational family saga, a love story and a mystery—tinged with a bit of fantasy.
Imagine a world in which the Nazis were victorious in World War II. Guy Saville takes that perilous route in his new thriller, The Madagaskar Plan, a sequel to his first novel, The Afrika Reich, with a third to follow in the author’s alternate history trilogy.
This surreal and entertaining debut is a concise, imaginative novel that explores life and death, work and home, personality and professionalism in an almost Orwellian fashion.
Weiner delivers yet another fresh, funny winner in Who Do You Love, the story of Rachel Blum, who grows up with a heart defect, and Andy Landis, the biracial son of a single mom.
From Nathaniel Hawthorne’s doomed Puritans and Flannery O’Connor’s cursed freaks, right up to Marilynne Robinson’s devout, reserved Midwesterners, there is a rich tradition of religious novels in American literature. Val Brelinski explores similar themes in her provocatively titled debut novel The Girl Who Slept With God.