Imagine a world in which the economy has tanked, jobs have dried up, society has crumbled, and people are doing anything and everything they can just to scrape by. For most of us, such a cataclysmic state of affairs is all too easy to envision, which makes Margaret Atwood’s latest dystopian thriller, The Heart Goes Last, all the more unsettling and eerily prophetic.
In 2012, Claire Vaye Watkins burst onto the literary landscape with her prize-winning short story collection, Battleborn. In Gold Fame Citrus, Watkins follows through on her literary promise with an excellent novel, set in a drought-ridden California in a future that feels alarmingly near.
A literary conference might not seem like an obvious setting for mayhem and nonsense, but that’s just what’s on the agenda in Chris Belden’s enjoyable Shriver, in which a lonely man gets invited to a university conference thanks to a case of mistaken identity. Shriver—the wrong Shriver—RSVPs, thinking it a good practical joke, until he’s swept up in the sordid, confusing world of egomaniacal writers and those who adore them.
For nine months The Girl on the Train has been lauded as the best thriller of 2015, but it has some real competition with the arrival of The Killing Lessons, a dark, violent novel from British author Glen Duncan (The Last Werewolf) writing under the pseudonym Saul Black.
The challenge for an author who writes about a lonely character is to make that character interesting—and keep him that way. Happily, this is what Lori Ostlund has done in After the Parade, her sensitive and realistic tale of the excruciatingly lonely Aaron Englund. What’s intriguing about him is that he seems not to mind his loneliness. This may seem odd, for the difference between loneliness and solitude is that a person minds the former and doesn’t mind the latter. But Aaron holds his pain like a shield against a world that never had much use for him.
The seedy, soap opera-tinged underbelly of Hollywood is fertile ground for fiction. Los Angeles resident Alex Brunkhorst makes the most of that setting in her second novel, the suspenseful and romantic The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine. It’s the star-crossed story of two lives that are wildly different yet forever intertwined.
Jan Karon, author of the best-selling series of Mitford novels, is back with another that readers won’t want to miss. Come Rain or Come Shine picks up where Karon’s last novel left off—with the upcoming marriage of aspiring veterinarian Dooley Kavanagh and his longtime sweetheart, Lace Harper.
As we mark the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Greg Hrbek's fascinating, inventive second novel imagines how America would change if someone dropped an atomic bomb on San Francisco, and, in the absence of any real evidence, the U.S. government held Islamic terrorists accountable.
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.
Few novels manage to be both coy and brusquely honest, uproarious and profoundly affecting. Even fewer are about teeth—and yet Mexican author Valeria Luiselli’s second work of fiction, The Story of My Teeth, is all of the above. But even more so, this eccentric work is about stories themselves.