Stanley and Vera reunite at each year’s National Spelling Bee, forming a bond over their shared victory and their mothers’ quirks and ambitious goals for their lives. They seem destined for success, sure to cross paths again at Harvard—until Stanley proposes a deal.
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.
Novelist J. Ryan Stradal spent months working on his vibrant first novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, without ever knowing if anything would come of it.
Robin Kirman’s first novel, Bradstreet Gate, is set amidst the hallowed halls of Harvard, peopled mostly by elite young scholars and their erudite professors and mentors. Her story revolves around three of these students, whose lives become entwined over the course of their undergraduate years—and remain so over the next decade.
In her perceptive debut novel, Julia Pierpont examines the effect that an extramarital affair has on one artistic New York City family. We asked Pierpont a few questions about the allure of the affair as a plot device, the brother-sister bond and smutty "Seinfeld" fan fiction.
Lois Lonsdale is an enigma to those around her. The British literature professor is a respected academic, but also something of a threat to others in the department. That’s partly due to the former spelling bee champion’s striking looks, but her publishing success and standoffish nature don’t help.
Raymond Chandler once said about writing fiction: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” In his first novel, Bull Mountain, firefighter Brian Panowich seems to have taken Chandler’s advice to heart: His characters brandish weaponry in a way that Charlton Heston might have found disconcerting. The result is a fast-paced and intricate revenge story culminating in a Shakespearean bloodbath.
Two new novels set in privileged northeastern communities showcase the darker side of family life.