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.
Last Bus to Wisdom is told by an orphan. He’s Donal Cameron, a Montana boy who is 11 years old in 1951. The flinty grandmother who raised him after his parents were killed needs an operation. This means Donny needs to go live with Gram’s somewhat estranged sister in Wisconsin. To do this he has to go Greyhound or, as they said back in the day, ride the dog bus. Having ridden the dog bus fairly frequently over the years, this reviewer braced herself for a horror story.
Parnaz Foroutan’s debut, The Girl from the Garden, explores the fortunes of the Malacoutis, a wealthy Jewish family in Iran at the turn of the 20th century, as remembered by the family’s only surviving daughter, Mahboubeh. Now elderly and living in Los Angeles, Mahboubeh wanders her garden, awash in memories that seem more real than her California home.
Julianna Baggot’s latest novel refuses to be confined to only one genre. Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders is a captivating multigenerational family saga, a love story and a mystery—tinged with a bit of fantasy.
Imagine a world in which the Nazis were victorious in World War II. Guy Saville takes that perilous route in his new thriller, The Madagaskar Plan, a sequel to his first novel, The Afrika Reich, with a third to follow in the author’s alternate history trilogy.
This surreal and entertaining debut is a concise, imaginative novel that explores life and death, work and home, personality and professionalism in an almost Orwellian fashion.
Weiner delivers yet another fresh, funny winner in Who Do You Love, the story of Rachel Blum, who grows up with a heart defect, and Andy Landis, the biracial son of a single mom.
Naomi Jackson's The Star Side of Bird Hill is a lush and lyrical debut set in Barbados during the summer of 1989. Ten-year-old Phaedra and her 16-year-old sister Dionne are sent away from their home in Brooklyn to spend some time with their maternal grandmother, Hyacinth, in the Caribbean, but neither girl is quite prepared for what the summer holds in store. Jackson centers her tale around four women in the same family, but from four different generations, and acutely sifts through the emotional landscapes of coming-of-age, claiming a cultural identity, grief and mental illness while including plenty of moments of brash humor and poetic insight. We asked Jackson a few questions about her own ties to Barbados, her writing process, what she's working on next and more.
From Nathaniel Hawthorne’s doomed Puritans and Flannery O’Connor’s cursed freaks, right up to Marilynne Robinson’s devout, reserved Midwesterners, there is a rich tradition of religious novels in American literature. Val Brelinski explores similar themes in her provocatively titled debut novel The Girl Who Slept With God.
For some college is about fresh starts, new friends and big adventures. When Chad wants to make the most of his time abroad at Oxford, he befriends Jolyon, a jovial, well-liked first-year student. The two share great camaraderie, and together they design an innocent game meant to mimic the inherent risks and consequences of life. Needing six to realize the game, they invite four others to participate with an enticing reward.