July 10, 2021
The desire to connect is part of what makes us human, and the following stories approach this notion to great effect. Each shares the common thread of joining—individuals to one another, resolutions to unanswered questions, past to present, and past to future. The selected authors have, in turn, connected with readers, creating truly absorbing experiences through their words.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By KEITH RIDGWAY
Published by NEW DIRECTIONS
Have you read Irish writer Keith Ridgway before? I had not and now want to read more. Sporadically prolific, his most recent fiction is Shock-ing in its sneaky structure, shifty characters, and dazzling prose. It stars a group of eccentric Londoners whose intersecting lives are equally mysterious and banal. Describing these linked stories, the author says: “It’s a polyptych, one of those altar pieces made of panels. You can take one of the panels away but they only really work together.” I agree. There is much to marvel at here, and a good helping of sly humor too.
Build Your House Around My Body
By VIOLET KUPERSMITH
Published by RANDOM HOUSE
A totally different type of book from Ridgway’s, yet also composed of linked storylines and sly humor, Kupersmith’s debut novel draws on her personal history as a Vietnamese American. The story is set in motion as an American woman goes missing after escaping to Saigon to stay with a great aunt she’s never met. Two decades prior, another woman, escaping her father, disappears into the countryside. Combining Vietnamese history and folklore with elements of a ghost story, the author weaves a spell on the reader. Her primary characters are strong women—in search of their place in the world, fleeing from abuse, lost—and their stories ultimately connect in this haunting novel of revenge..
A Passage North
By ANUK ARUDPRAGASAM
Published by HOGARTH PRESS
Three decades of Sri Lankan civil war form the backdrop of Arudpragasam’s (The Story of a Brief Marriage) new fiction. Two messages—one an email from an ex-love, one regarding the curious death of a loyal caretaker—compel Krishan to travel from Colombo to the heart of the conflict in the Northern Province. This beautifully rendered novel combines the personal and the political. Come for the story, stay for the prose and the incredible last section describing a funeral pyre. Working in both English and Tamil, Arudpragasam is an extraordinary writer.
The Paper Palace
By MIRANDA COWLEY HELLER
Published by RIVERHEAD
How does one choose between two perfect lives? Elle faces a decision that has been brewing for three decades when her life reaches a turning point one night at the Paper Palace, the family summerhouse. Amid the gorgeous landscape of outer Cape Cod, Elle unearths buried secrets as she attempts to make this defining choice. Heller’s previous incarnation overseeing drama at HBO (The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire) has clearly contributed to her skill creating this sexy, beautifully paced novel. When you start reading you simply cannot stop..
I Couldn't Love You More
By ESTHER FREUD
Published by ECCO
Family connections and misconnections abound in this enthralling new novel from Esther Freud (the daughter of Lucien and the great-granddaughter of Sigmund). She explores, among other themes, the difficulties of raising children, and being—or being in love with—an artist. Three women’s lives entwine: a teenager in an English Catholic boarding school in the 60s, a Dublin mother whose husband is dying, and an unhappily married woman in 90s London. This London-based author has produced a penetrating work about love in all its manifestations, and the joys and sorrows of motherhood.
Black Sci-Fi Short Stories
By Temi Oh, Sandra M. Grayson, and Tia Ross
Published by FLAME TREE COLLECTIONS
The Black Writers Collective, an online community founded in 1998, links Black writers worldwide with each other as well as with opportunities and resources. They’ve lent their support to this spectacular anthology featuring emerging and established writers including W.E.B. Du Bois (“The Comet”) and founding editor Temi Oh (“Almost Too Good to Be True”) who also writes the foreword. This is an important addition to the fast-growing genre of speculative Black literature and will surely appeal to already ardent fans, while connecting new readers to these extraordinary invented realms..