November 12, 2022
This week we hear from writers who bring the world to us with passion and compassion in fiction and nonfiction. In addition to including new books from some of our best contemporary writers (who are also popular at The Center), there is an emotionally devastating debut novel from an Irishwoman making big waves in the literary media. As the days get abruptly shorter, curl up in your most comfortable chair and enjoy the late fall bounty of books.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Louise Kennedy
Published by Riverhead
In this extraordinary first novel, Cushla is a Catholic girl living in Belfast during the Troubles who teaches elementary school and works part-time in the family bar. There she is drawn to Michael, a handsome, married Protestant customer. The events that follow can only end badly but the choices Kennedy makes about how, why, and when are stunning. Cushla’s alcoholic widowed mother is a familiar type (see Frank McCourt, Douglas Stuart, et al.), but her addiction feels unique. In the background, a steady stream of horrific news stories of bombings and murders creates unbearable tension. Read the laudatory New York Times article here.
By Eileen Myles
Published by Grove Press
A perennial favorite, Myles (Inferno), who has been called “the rock star of modern poetry,” has put together a new anthology inspired by the Greek word ‘pathos,’ proving that the original meaning of ‘pathetic’ was far from negative. There are over a hundred entries that include authors we know and love (Kafka, Samuel Delaney, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rumi and Borges) as well as emerging writers from across the world. This handsomely designed, almost 700-page tome has a fine introduction by the prize-winning poet, essayist and novelist who has lectured about the unifying concept of this selection to their students in a seminar at UC San Diego..
Novelist as a Vocation
By Haruki Murakami
Published by Knopf
Translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen
One of the most imaginative and prolific writers of our generation (First Person Singular) turns his gaze upon what it means to be a novelist and his unexpected career as a writer. (He owned a jazz café with his wife after university.) Murakami’s first book, Hear the Wind Sing, was written in Japanese, which he translated into English and back again searching for his voice. He certainly found it and is able to capture a life, a situation, a character with great precision and subtlety. A fine addition to the literature about the craft of writing and an inside glimpse into what makes this always entertaining writer tick.
By Hillary Chute
Published by Pantheon
Cartoonist Art Spiegelman’s ground-breaking graphic novel Maus both altered and enhanced the way the story of the Holocaust could be told. Its poignant subject of an aging survivor and his relationship with his son has, since its 1980s publication, helped validate the genre of the graphic novel, raising it from comic book status to that of literature. Almost 40 years later (and recently—unforgivably—banned by a Tennessee school board), Chute has edited an illustrated collection of critical essays on the work from writers like Phillip Pullman and several international voices. Now, more than ever, it’s worth looking at this epic accomplishment that remains a timeless and controversial work..
By Brigitta Olubas
Published by Fsg
Shirley Hazzard was a consummate storyteller and her novels, short fiction and essays were often inspired by events in her own life—from Sydney to New Zealand, to her beloved Italy, Hong Kong and New York, where she died in 2016. Her writing life began when she sent a story about her childhood to the New Yorker in 1960 and another from the following year when she was visiting Tuscany. Her marriage to the critic and biographer Francis Steegmuller was a happy and rich one, full of international travel. The perfect biographer, a fellow Australian, has now illuminated her life, which included working for the UN, and lasting creative work.