August 15, 2020
Here are five novels that completely held my attention—no easy task when it is hard to concentrate on much of anything these days. What this month calls for is a page-turner, and we highly recommend these irresistible new works of fiction.
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
The Glass Kingdom
By Lawrence Osborne
Published by Hogarth
A little noir story that will make your skin crawl. An American expat in Bangkok, on the run from some criminal activity in the U.S., lives in an anonymous glass high-rise apartment building filled with some fairly dubious characters. Osborne always makes locations a character in his novels and Bangkok (where the author also resides) comes alive with a feeling of sterile menace, as the rain beats down on the glass windows overlooking construction sites, sex bars and luxury hotels.
By Raven Leilani
Published by FSG
With endorsements from Zadie Smith to Brit Bennett, this debut is being talked about all over literary circles. Leilani said, “I wanted to write a story about a Black woman who fails a lot and is sort of grasping for human connection and making mistakes.” Issues of power (sexual and other) and money abound in her heroine’s inability to see herself clearly. Funny, sexy, unflinchingly honest, it’s a wild ride from a promising young writer..
By Emma Jane Unsworth
Published by Simon & Schuster
A different viewpoint from a British writer, here is another version of trying to find one’s place in the world. Jenny attempts to re-center her life in the aftermath of a tragic breakup in this addictive comic novel that captures life for young women in the social media age. Now 30-something, her entire life is imploding (job, mother problems). Unsworth manages to create an incredibly empathetic and appealing character making her halting way to real adulthood. A Bridget Jones for our times and totally entertaining.
By Kate Reed Petty
Published by Viking
You have to pay close attention to this impressive debut—a cleverly constructed little piece of darkness—to unravel a childhood event that continues to reverberate throughout the lives of a handful of characters. Who can you believe? Whose ambitions have corrupted their moral compasses? Have any of these characters overcome the past? Deception, lies, secrets, addiction, abusive relationships all play a part of this compulsively readable novel..
A Saint from Texas
By Edmund White
Published by Bloomsbury
It’s been almost 40 years between White’s first novel, A Boy’s Own Story and this rapturous novel of twin sisters with opposing personalities. It cries out to be read aloud, preferably by the author, as the prose sings in your ear (a dance instructor has “cow-catcher eyelashes,” a character has “seed-pearl fingernails . . .”). From their childhood in Texas to their separate trajectories (a baroness in Paris, a life of Catholic charity in Columbia) the sisters’ lives in this totally unexpected, often joyous novel are full of both life and death. It is a wonder to read.