September 10, 2022
Novels, short stories, stories that interlink to become a novel, and poetry: these books explore their characters’ psychological and sexual coming of age, as well as the search for truths that will illuminate their pasts. Seasoned, prize-winning writers are represented as well as two extraordinary debuts.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Ian McEwan
Published by Knopf
At age 11, Roland is sent to boarding school in London, where he is given piano lessons by a sexually aggressive teacher, Miriam Cornwell. Years later, when his wife has disappeared and he is raising his young son alone, he goes searching for Miriam to make sense of the all-consuming affair and to understand why his wife chose her literary career over her family. As often in McEwan’s beautiful fiction, these characters are flawed—haunted by their life choices. Set against large historical events like the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9/11, and the pandemic, the world changes rapidly while these characters follow their circuitous paths driven by emotion, love and the search for happiness.
If I Survive You
By Jonathan Escoffery
Published by MCD/FSG
From Kingston to Miami, we follow a Jamaican family over 50 years in compelling connected stories. We meet son Trelawny in the 5th grade where he hears ‘tú no entiendes’ (‘you don’t quite fit’), a theme throughout these tales. In Jamaica he was not considered Black, but in America he accepts he is ‘the black sheep.’ He grapples mightily to overcome the hardships of society, racism, capitalism, and mother nature. Readers will root for this appealing narrator and his family to survive against sometimes overwhelming obstacles in a cultural melting pot—hurricanes, financial disasters and much more. A sharply observed debut laced with a leavening wit from one of our writing workshop instructors..
By Meghan Gilliss
Published by Catapult
Longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, this stunning first effort from Gilliss (a former bookseller) features another version of a troubled family on society’s edges. They are squatting off the grid on an island off the coast of Maine in the house where protagonist Tucker spent summers with her grandmother. The indomitable Tucker, her drug-addicted husband, and her young daughter attempt to carve out an existence dependent on the natural world. Unlike the life of the titular lungfish which hides in the mud, this trio attempts to survive in plain sight in a novel full of motherlove, courage, poetry and grace.
By Andrea Barrett
Published by W.W. Norton
Quiet, gentle and subtle, Barrett’s lovely stories set largely in New York state are deceptively simple. The new collection focuses on the natural world and her meticulous descriptions of flora and fauna enrich each one. We are also treated to the recurrence of many of the memorable characters from stories past, beginning with the National Book Award winning collection, Ship Fever. Over the course of a hundred years they interact with each other, but it is nature, always pulsing in the background, that prevails. In the superb “The Wonders of the Shore,” the relationship between two friends vacationing on a New England island is tested; and in the stellar novella-length title story we come, satisfyingly, full circle..
Woman Without Shame
By Sandra Cisneros
Published by Knopf
Sandra Cisneros is always a pleasure to read in whatever form her writing takes, but this new selection of poetry is a special treat. With humor and pathos, gratitude and seduction, she addresses life as she ages (“I am a spectator at my own sport”) and her perspective on living in Mexico, where she has resided for almost a decade. Her feminist themes abound, as does her very particular art of self-examination and the realities of borders both geographic and spiritual. “Tea Dance, Provincetown, 1982,“ recently reprinted in the New Yorker (“Slippery male energy. Something akin to watching horses fighting.”) is a standout. It is a beautiful collection!