“I'm in a swamp in County Sligo,” Kevin Barry tells me over the phone. The Irish author has lived in at least a dozen places, from his childhood home of Limerick to Spain to Santa Barbara, but he’s settled now in an old police station built in the 1840s, known as the Barracks. Sadly, he says, it doesn’t appear to be haunted.
It takes a bold author to write about an event which is so historically hazy that even the novel’s narrator wonders, “How many people even remember it?”
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.
David Mitchell’s novel Slade House first came to life as a short story delivered in 140-character bursts on Twitter. That story, “The Right Sort,” is now the first entry in a chilling novel in stories that’s an intriguing companion piece to Mitchell’s 2014 novel, The Bone Clocks, an intricate saga of a war between two groups of time travelers.
Paul Murray’s hilarious and surreal third novel is once again set in his home country of Ireland. In the wake of the financial crisis, Dublin is full of half-completed construction projects and Occupy-style protest camps, but the financial sector of the city is set apart, mirroring the separation between the people whose lives financial policy affects and those who set it.
Golden Age, the third and final volume of Jane Smiley’s splendid The Last Hundred Years trilogy, opens during a 1987 family reunion at the Langdon family farm in Iowa. Gathered are the surviving children and a number of grandchildren of Walter and Rosanna Langdon, the progenitors and subject of the trilogy’s first volume, Some Luck, which began in 1923. By this point, readers know intimately many of these characters and are familiar with the affections and antagonisms that bind and separate parents and children, aunts and uncles, husband and wives, brothers, sisters and cousins. These ups and downs only proliferate as the story unfolds, until this final episode concludes in 2019.
Howard Frank Mosher’s bailiwick for more than 40 years, and the setting for many of his 12 previous books, both fiction and nonfiction, is Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom—called God’s Kingdom by its earliest settlers. This nickname serves as the title for Mosher’s latest novel, which follows the Kinneson family, whose roots in Vermont go back to Charles Kinneson I, who arrived from the Scottish Isle of Skye in the late 18th century. It’s mostly the story of Jim Kinneson, who turned 14 in 1952, and began to write down the family stories gradually passed down to him.
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.
Richard Ford's latest chapter in the life of Frank Bascombe, an inventive novel in two versions and a National Book Award nominee make for great group discussion this month.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans, leaving behind empty streets, ruined art and a skeleton crew of old-guard residents. The discovery of a dead body in a historic hotel couldn’t come at a worse time for the understaffed, struggling New Orleans police force. The murder reopens the investigation into the decades-old theft of a highly valued European painting, which causes the lives of four people to intersect.