From Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to Gone Girl, contemporary marriage has frequently been subject to scathing literary portrayals. Andria Williams, however, may well be the first to set marital tribulations against the backdrop of a (literal) nuclear meltdown. Given this, ahem, explosive premise, it’s interesting to note that Williams’ debut eschews the extremities favored by the likes of Edward Albee or Gillian Flynn. The Longest Night is a closely observed study with its feet planted firmly in domestic realism.
It is impossible to explain fully the beautiful, haunting emotional power of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton. Magic? Genius? Certainly much of its power arises from the mesmerizing voice of Lucy Barton, teller of this tale. And much of it comes from the details of the story she slowly unfolds.
It’s hard to write about Shame and Wonder, albeit for good reason. David Searcy’s collection of 21 essays are unlike anything I’ve read before, though they feel achingly familiar. The subject matter is the stuff of everyday life, or an era just passed: comic strips, the prizes in cereal boxes, the craft of folding a perfect paper airplane. But woven through each essay is a haunting quality, humor and loss uncomfortably conjoined on the page.
After a devastating tsunami strikes Osaka, Japan, Kai Ellstrom’s parents send him to stay with family in Oregon until their city stabilizes. Kai barely remembers his father’s brother and family, including his teen cousin Jet, and awkwardness persists until Kai and Jet discover a common interest: their fathers’ boat, the Saga. Kai and Jet decide to sail the Saga in the same race their fathers did as teenagers, but they’re unaware of the unexpected challenges that await them.
My Life on the Road is a traveler’s journey like no other, and Gloria Steinem, feminist icon, 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient (President Obama called her a “champion notice-er”), journalist, organizer and activist, is your unique guide.
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.
“The sleep of reason produces monsters.” These words can be found in an etching by Francisco Goya, reproduced at the beginning of Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (or 1,001 nights, that magical number). It’s a nightmarish image of a young man asleep, slumped over a table as a horde of wide-eyed and shadowy creatures bear down upon him.
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.
The residents of the Gulf Coast in the 1770s and 1780s saw the American Revolution differently from the rebelling colonists in the north.In her richly detailed and riveting Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution, historian Kathleen DuVal explores what the war and its aftermath meant in the lives of eight individuals who lived in an area with many competing interests.
In Sarah Nović’s first novel, Girl at War, her protagonist Ana Jurić lives “suspended between the living and the dead” after witnessing the atrocities of the Croatian War of Independence.