by James Hannaham
Gripped by grief after her husband’s death, Darlene turns to drugs, abandons her son, and is duped into taking a job at a farm where she is held captive against her will. Darlene and her son Eddie desperately try to find each other, while Scotty, the personification of crack cocaine (yes, you read that right), narrates much of the story. Publishers Weekly says this “seductive and disturbing second novel grips the reader from page one” and Kirkus Reviews calls it “a poised and nervy study of race in a unique voice.” Hannaham’s 2009 debut God Says No was nominated for a Lambda Award for Best Gay Debut Fiction.
by Paul Beatty
The narrator of this scathing, profound, and foul-mouthed satire is a young African American man called before the Supreme Court after reinstating slavery and segregation in his hometown of Dickens, on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The New York Times raves “The first 100 pages… are the most caustic and the most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I’ve read in at least a decade” and “the riffs don’t stop coming in this landmark and deeply aware comic novel.” NPR says “The Sellout isn't just one of the most hilarious American novels in years, it also might be the first truly great satirical novel of the century.” Beatty is the author of The White Boy Shuffle (1996) and the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor (2006). Read an excerpt here and more about the author here.
A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life follows the lives of four friends over four decades. Malcolm, JB, Willem, and Jude meet as young men at a small Massachusetts college and then move to New York together to begin their lives. The novel touches on issues of race, class and sexuality as the men face ups and downs in their careers and their friendships. Ultimately the narrative focuses on Jude, a successful lawyer who bears physical and mental scars from a gruesomely tragic past. Kirkus describes it as “an intensely interior look at the friends' psyches and relationships, and it's utterly enthralling.” Publishers Weekly promises: “By the time the characters reach their 50s and the story arrives at its moving conclusion, readers will be attached and find them very hard to forget.” Yanagihara’s debut novel, The People in the Trees, was selected as one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly and the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Discreet Hero
by Mario Vargas Llosa
The Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian author examines the lives, loves, families and businesses of two men, one the prosperous owner of an insurance company in Lima, and one the struggling owner of a trucking company in a small town. Vargas Llosa “layers disparate, suspenseful, and competing stories into a larger, fuller narrative that seamlessly arrives at its satisfying conclusion” (Publishers Weekly). Booklist calls The Discreet Hero “complicated yet irresistible” and “fabulously arresting” and Vargas Llosa “a soaring storyteller” who “mixes humor with solemnity, farce with seriousness, to arrive at novels that maintain a perfect balance between rigorous literary standards and free-for-all fun.”
Night at the Fiestas
by Kirstin Valdez Quade
This collection of stories touches on issues of class, race and coming of age against a New Mexico backdrop. Quade “works a kind of magic with her prose” and “draws outsider characters from the periphery” with a “fierce authenticity and gift for crafting character” (Booklist). This debut author already has accolades under her belt; she was recognized by the National Book Foundation as a 5 under 35 honoree and is a former Stegner Fellow.
The Buried Giant
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Among ogres and dragons in medieval rural England, an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, live in a village where everyone seems to have trouble remembering anything. In this fog of forgetting, Axl and Beatrice wonder about a son they think they had—when did he leave? And why? They set off on a quest to find answers. Kirkus calls it “lovely: a fairy tale for grown-ups, both partaking in and departing from a rich literary tradition.” In the New York Times, Neil Gaiman called it “an exceptional novel” that “remains in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave, forcing one to turn it over and over” (although the NYT’s Michiko Kakutani did not care for it). Ishiguro is the highly acclaimed author of Never Let Me Go (2005) and Booker Prize winner The Remains of the Day (1989), among others.
The Lost Child
by Caryl Phillips
An award winning writer responds to Wuthering Heights with a tragic tale that spans generations. The life of young Heathcliff, son of a slave on a sugar plantation, is blended with the story of the Brontë sisters and their troubled brother, blended with the 20th century story of Monica Johnson, a woman who defies her parents by pursuing a forbidden marriage and later struggles as a single mother. Kirkus calls The Lost Child “gorgeously crafted and emotionally shattering.” Phillips is the author of Booker nominees Crossing the River (1994) and A Distant Shore (2003), and he has been the winner of the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, among others.
The Shadow of the Crescent Moon
by Fatima Bhutto
Living with constant threat of violence in Pakistan near the Afghanistan border, three brothers decide not to celebrate Eid at the same mosque because the risk of losing the whole family is too great. The brothers have pursued very different paths in life—the middle brother, Sikander, avoided politics by becoming a doctor. But that didn’t stop the Taliban from killing his son, and now they have taken Sikander and his grieving wife hostage. “This poignant read holds vast contemporary relevance” (Booklist) and “Bhutto's characters and story are compelling and richly drawn” (Publishers Weekly). The author, a member of a politically prominent Bhutto family, wrote the memoir Songs of Blood and Sword (2010). This, her first novel, was longlisted for the UK’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.
A Reunion of Ghosts
by Judith Claire Mitchell
The Alter sisters have decided to commit suicide. In this dark comedy, Lady, Vee, and Delph Alter are the remaining members of the Alter family, long haunted by bad luck and suicides. Lady has already made one attempt, Vee’s cancer has returned, and Delph the spinster has little to live for—so they commence collaboratively writing their family history slash suicide note. Kirkus calls A Reunion of Ghosts a “masterful family saga… as funny as it is aching” and Publishers Weekly calls it “sharply funny, fiercely unsentimental” and “poignant and pulsing with life force.”
The Dream of My Return
by Horacio Castellanos Moya
Erasmo Aragon is a journalist, neurotic and hypochondriac who has fled the political turbulence of his native El Salvador and is living in Mexico City. An intense pain in the stomach brings him to fellow Salvadoran Dr. Chente Alvarado, who suggests hypnosis. New levels of paranoia arise as the very unusual doctor helps him delve into his psyche. Kirkus Reviews calls it “an exquisitely wry novel” and raves, “Moya has written a tight little novel that is wickedly witty and built on the idea of memory as a never-ending cause of inspiration and turmoil.” Moya is a writer and journalist from El Salvador; four of his ten novels have been translated into English including Senselessness (2008).
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