Kelly Link tends to inspire a range of comparisons to other authors—usually, some blend of Angela Carter and Haruki Murakami—but, in fact, nobody writes stories like hers. Link’s fantastical worlds feel utterly real, partly because they’re intensely matter-of-fact. Her characters are sassy, moody and cool, and they never, ever make any big deal out of the fact that there are monsters, aliens, vampires or ghosts hanging around, or that they might stumble into a pocket universe or some alternate dimension. Mostly they’re concerned with cute guys and flirting and drinks, plus occasionally needing to save the world.
Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge, has its fair share of glamorous and not-so-glamorous stories. M.O. Walsh, author of My Sunshine Away, grew up there, so he captures these contradictions effortlessly in his stunning debut.
Pre-Civil Rights Mississippi was a place where issues of race and class weighted down air already heavy with humidity. Jonathan Odell takes this complicated setting and throws two young mothers from widely different worlds together.
For those who argue that global capitalism is in the midst of a second Gilded Age, Canadian novelist Stephen Marche’s second novel (after Raymond and Hannah) offers an intriguing genre-crossing allegory for the rapacity and relentlessness of that economic philosophy.
David Treuer’s fourth novel, Prudence, is set in northern Minnesota, near the Leech Lake Reservation where he grew up. It opens in August 1942, as Frankie Washburn is returning to the Pines, the resort owned by his parents, for a brief visit before joining the war as a bombardier. The reunion is fraught with negative memories from the past, especially the distance between Frankie and his father, Jonathan. Frankie’s sexual orientation, although never mentioned, is planted like a wall between them. Frankie’s mother is oblivious, her main concern in life being the upkeep of the Pines itself.
In 20 novels published over a remarkable 50-year period, Anne Tyler has staked her claim as our premier chronicler of the ordinary, imperfect American family. Set in Baltimore, like most of her work, A Spool of Blue Thread concerns just such a family. Abby and Red Whitshank and their four children are, from the outside, just like anyone else. Red is a second-generation building contractor, Abby a social worker, and the clan has long occupied a rambling house that Red’s father once built for another man. Like all families, they have had their ups and downs, their squabbles, resentments and misunderstandings, but nothing has irreparably damaged the household fabric.
Nick Hornby is an expert story-teller who reveals the nuances of his characters’ lives, and in the process, allows readers to understand a world unlike their own. His expert lens is most often trained on male characters, although 2001’s How to Be Good is an exception, and the male protagonists in 2009’s Juliet, Naked, share pages with a strong woman who goes beyond love interest.
If you’ve been watching Showtime’s “The Affair,” you may see some similarities in I Regret Everything. Writer and producer (“Big Love”) Seth Greenland’s new novel tells the story of a relationship that some might find inappropriate, from the first-person point of view of both parties. There’s melodrama, and a subplot that involves a crime. But there is also real warmth, wit and irreverence woven throughout this thoroughly readable tale.
This radiant collection of short stories features a set of flawed yet sympathetic women in a whole mess of compromising positions.
When Maija, her husband Paavo, and her daughters, Frederika and Dorotea, pack up their lives in Finland and head west to the Swedish Lapland in 1717, they were hoping for a fresh start, a clean break from the losses and the disappointments in their homeland.