November 5, 2022
This grouping taps into emotional relationships—with family, friends, faith, food and life itself. We hear from a prolific Southern American satirist who has been praised for his “oddball tales;” a beloved novelist at the height of his powers; an up-and-coming fiction writer whose work keeps hitting the target; an Indigenous writer’s first short fiction collection; and an anthology of essays that explore memories of indelible meals.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
Now Is Not the Time to Panic
By Kevin Wilson
Published by Ecco
Wilson’s (Nothing to See Here) quirky new fiction is set during a fateful summer in ’90s Coalfield, Tennessee, during which a pair of oddball teenagers forge an indelible bond over creating a poster. They secretly paste it everywhere in their small town, like a Southern Banksy. Nobody really knows who’s behind it, even those closest to them. This shared, secretive adventure has a cataclysmic effect on their lives and the community as speculation takes a darker turn with repercussions twenty years later. The novel is extremely original and touching, and the natural storytelling style makes it come vividly alive.
By Lynn Steger Strong
Published by Mariner Books
Strong, who has led reading groups for The Center, has penned a terrific new novel about domestic intimacy which takes place during the first Christmas after Helen, the matriarch of a troubled family, has died. Three siblings with their spouses and children gather in the upstate New York home. As each character is brought to life, it is Helen that keeps shining through. Everyone in this complicated extended family defines the hard moments they face wondering, what would Helen do? The novel is full of rich, emotional scenes: loud when the kids are acting out; quiet when all are introspective and anxious..
By Bojan Louis
Published by Graywolf Press
This stunning debut is a collection of eight stories from a Diné writer whose characters include disenfranchised and struggling day laborers, writers, sex workers, musicians, and more. Through these gritty, hardscrabble lives Louis shows us the underside of life in the Navajo desert, at times hopeful and other times relentless. His background as a poet (Currents) informs and intensifies his unsparing prose. He tells us: “Language can define, inform, and divide how we view ourselves and how others view us.” It seems this fiercely talented writer is well on his way to a broader audience.
The Magic Kingdom
By Russell Banks
Published by Knopf
A favorite writer of mine, Banks has been quietly writing some of the best American fiction for decades. This time out he offers a fascinating historical novel about a Shaker community in Florida. It is told through transcribed tapes made by the elderly Harley Mann, who was brought there as a youngster by his family, worked and fell in love there while never embracing the tenets of the community. It is both poignant and polemical, exploring the history of the settlement of Florida as well as the Disney-fication of the central part of the state. It is a deeply memorable addition to Banks’s previous fiction..
My First Popsicle
By Zosia Mamet
Published by Penguin Books
This “Anthology of Food and Feelings” reconfirms what we all know: food and emotions are inextricably linked. Zosia Mamet, recently of The Flight Attendant on HBO Max (which I obsessively binged) has assembled a group of essays by writers and celebs, from Jia Tolentino and Sloane Crosley to Patti LuPone and Gabourey Sidibe, Rosie Perez and Patti Smith. The participants’ memories of their favorite or most emotional food experiences are fun and relatable, full of nostalgia and confessional food fetishes—and even recipes. It is lots of fun and will make you salivate and want to share your own reminiscences with friends.