Susan Barker’s daring new novel, The Incarnations, begins in 2008, just months before the opening of the Beijing Olympics. The city is grimy and polluted behind the burst of new construction. After nights spent in the dense traffic of the city’s multiple ring roads, taxi driver Wang returns home exhausted to his wife and daughter. A rare visit with his invalid father and vicious stepmother, an aging femme fatale, doesn’t add much pleasure to Wang’s already lonely existence, but things take a turn for the bizarre when an anonymous letter, tucked into the visor of his cab, assures Wang that he is the reincarnated soul mate of the sender.
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.
Nature tells us that a mother can’t part with her children. Like a lioness with her cubs, a mother is supposed do anything and sacrifice anything to protect her kids. But what about a mother who feels out of her depth? A mother who believes that the only way she can protect her children is by abandoning them?
Atmospheric, moody and evocative—these words describe Alice Hoffman’s latest achievement, The Marriage of Opposites. And that is no accident, because they also accurately describe the 19th-century artistic movement known as Impressionism, founded by Camille Pissarro, the third son Rachel Pomié bore to her second husband, Frédérick.
The line between mainstream and Christian fiction gets thinner and thinner. That’s because the quality of writing by identifiably Christian authors gets better and better. There has always been a strong thread of Christian theology running through mainstream fiction, from Flannery O’Connor to Marilynne Robinson. The ironic key to this successful wedding of religion and high art has always been the subtlety of the moral of the story, which must be subordinate to the storyteller’s art. The same principle elevates the novels of Virginia author Billy Coffey (The Devil Walks in Mattingly).
The creepy motel is a staple of the horror genre—think the Overlook or the Bates. In her chilling seventh novel, The Night Sister, Jennifer McMahon has created a worthy addition to that roster: the Tower Motel.
The sequel to breakout hit The Rosie Effect, a return to Jan Karon's beloved Mitford and a spirited historical novel make for lively group discussion this month.
Shirley Jackson, who died 50 years ago this month at the much too early age of 48, left behind a solid literary opus anchored in two indelible works: the iconic short story “The Lottery” and the classy ghost story novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Let Me Tell You collects 29 stories, including 21 that have never before been published, as well as many essays and humor pieces.
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.