May 1, 2021
May is the season of flowers and the following writers, acknowledged as gifted stylists and storytellers, all have blossoming careers. Each of their new books confirms their place in the pantheon of contemporary literature, from both coasts of the U.S., the U.K., and Japan.
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
By MIEKO KAWAKAMI
Published by EUROPA EDITIONS
Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd
Japanese writer Kawakami broke through the pandemic with her instantly popular novel, Breasts and Eggs (now in paperback), last year. Her new novel addresses bullying and its far-reaching effects. The protagonists, 14-year-old schoolmates, are equally tortured by a group of brutal boys: our narrator who is cruelly beaten and humiliated, and Kojima, a girl who neglects her own body as a way to deal with grief. These kindred spirits find ways to comfort each other. It is a simple, heartbreaking story with an important message, told with tenderness.
Project Hail Mary
By ANDY WEIR
Published by BALLANTINE BOOKS
An astronaut awakes alone (except for dead crewmates) on a spaceship whose mission is to save Earth. You might recall in Weir’s hit The Martian his main character was also alone, on Mars. Once again, Weir proves he can write great classic sci-fi with a traditional plot. What makes his work shine is character development, and Ryland Grace is one of those unforgettable characters. His struggle to survive drives the novel. Plus a surprise ending delivers a satisfying twist. You don’t have to be a genre fan to love this novel..
By RACHEL CUSK
Published by FSG
Fans of Cusk’s trilogy of short, piquant novels will delight in the publication of her new one. A woman who is obsessed with an artist’s paintings invites him to live and work in her guesthouse. You are probably thinking, ‘uh-oh’ and you would be right. The complications of their relationship—his distance, her curiosity, their dance around each other—form the basis for the story. Cusk not only examines the mysteries of the heart but also defines the mind of an artist. Inspired by the meeting between D.H. Lawrence and Mabel Dodge Luhan in New Mexico, this is arguably her best novel to date.
By FRANCISCO GOLDMAN
Published by GROVE PRESS
Goldman takes the reader through an entire family history in three days in his newest (auto) fiction. Frankie (Francisco Goldberg) has recently returned to the US from Mexico City and begins to visit his mother in a Boston nursing home. End-of-life revelations, failed and potential romantic relationships, and self-reflection as Francisco (nicknamed Monkey Boy as a sickly child) nears fifty, pepper the novel with loving, funny and wise observations. Frankie’s story and that of his parents (his father a Ukrainian Jew; his mother from Guatemala) is told in intimate detail, drawing the reader into this family as though we are part of it too..
By MARISA SILVER
Published by BLOOMSBURY
In this exceptionally poignant story, two young girls explore the ‘mysteries’ of childhood in 1970s suburban St. Louis. Miggy is defiant and overactive, filled with uncontainable emotions. Elle is quieter and less confident. Both are irresistible characters. Their friendship amid the not-so-constant supervision of their parents, and the aftermath of a horrible tragedy are explored as Silver mines the fertile territory of the innocence of youth. As Miggy’s father remarks toward the end of this affecting story, “irrationality is the last, exuberant gesture toward significance.”
By OLIVIA LAING
Published by WW NORTON
Laing’s fans are legion and her powers of cultural criticism and as an essayist are almost unsurpassed. Her new book focuses on the body and its battle for freedom—both from oppression and repression. She considers LGBTQ+, women’s, and civil rights through various diverse and fascinating icons including Susan Sontag, Malcolm X, and Nina Simone. One of our first virtual events was with Laing for her last book about art (just out in paperback). It was one of the most watched events we have produced, with people signing in from many countries..