The line between mainstream and Christian fiction gets thinner and thinner. That’s because the quality of writing by identifiably Christian authors gets better and better. There has always been a strong thread of Christian theology running through mainstream fiction, from Flannery O’Connor to Marilynne Robinson. The ironic key to this successful wedding of religion and high art has always been the subtlety of the moral of the story, which must be subordinate to the storyteller’s art. The same principle elevates the novels of Virginia author Billy Coffey (The Devil Walks in Mattingly).
The creepy motel is a staple of the horror genre—think the Overlook or the Bates. In her chilling seventh novel, The Night Sister, Jennifer McMahon has created a worthy addition to that roster: the Tower Motel.
The sequel to breakout hit The Rosie Effect, a return to Jan Karon's beloved Mitford and a spirited historical novel make for lively group discussion this month.
Shirley Jackson, who died 50 years ago this month at the much too early age of 48, left behind a solid literary opus anchored in two indelible works: the iconic short story “The Lottery” and the classy ghost story novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Let Me Tell You collects 29 stories, including 21 that have never before been published, as well as many essays and humor pieces.
In her debut novel, New York Times reporter Stephanie Clifford takes readers to New York City in the years before the 2008 stock market crash. Everybody Rise follows young striver Evelyn Beegan as she attempts to break into some of New York City’s most elite circles—and will go to almost any extreme to make it happen. We spoke to Clifford about her move from reporting to fiction, social power structures and the “unlikeable” female protagonist.
Looking at a world from an outsider’s point of view is a common theme in literature—with good reason. It supplies a powerful perspective and often enlightenment, as demonstrated in these four memorable first novels.
It’s hard for me to explain this, but Make Your Home Among Strangers came to me almost fully formed one afternoon in March of 2010. I was sitting in a meeting as part of my then-job. Like a lot of unreasonably optimistic people, I gave the brightest years of my 20s to a nonprofit—an LA-based organization called One Voice, where I served as a counselor/mentor to first-generation college kids.
There are plenty of ugly childhoods, traumas and bad starts to go around in Mary Kubica’s Pretty Baby, a new psychological thriller that comes hard on the heels of the author’s debut novel, The Good Girl, which hit a number of “best” lists in 2014.
If someone were to recommend a funny novel about the London Blitz, you might think either that the person was joking or that such a book could only be tasteless and disrespectful. In some cases you’d be right, but in the case of Crooked Heart, British author Lissa Evans’ American debut, you’d be in for a pleasant surprise. Evans has written an amusing tale about morally compromised characters that, in the midst of its comedy, asks whether morally wrong actions are justified in a time of unspeakable horror.
When her writing is going really well, when she is “all in,” Paula McLain, author of the best-selling historical novel The Paris Wife, calls herself “a head in a jar.” All brain, no body.