July 2, 2022
What type of escape are you seeking for this long summer weekend? Choose from linked stories set on a Down East reservation, interconnected stories teeming with weirdness, a romantic comedy among Afro-Caribbean students, a music-fueled story about motherhood, or an Indian potter with an unattainable dream. There is much irreverence here as well as indelible portraits of marginal characters. Your July 4th celebration can take many forms, but we highly recommend it include some downtime reading an author you have yet to discover.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
Night of the Living Rez
By Morgan Talty
Published by Tin House
David is a young boy living with his mother and sister in the Panawahpskek Nation of Penobscot, Maine. These interconnected stories tell the tale of a poor, possibly cursed family—substance addiction, unexpected pregnancy, and evil spirits called Goog’ooks all add up to an emotionally powerful study of a contemporary Indigenous community. Talty grew up on this reservation and his insight and empathetic yet brutally honest depiction is an eye-opening window into life there—the good and the evil they live with and how, as the author says, colonialism is their true villain. Read this!
By Iris Smyles
Published by Turtle Point Press
This collection of oddly comic stories takes the reader into the surrealistic world (see the cover) of Iris Smyles. Her sophisticated intellect overflows the pages over fourteen stories. In “Medusa’s Garden,” an ultimately poignant story of finding oneself in the world, a young woman studies ballet, becomes a flight attendant and then a living statue in various beautiful European cities. Another is told in the diagrammed sentences of a schoolchild, and one through the messages in fortune cookies. The work is reminiscent of Miranda July, in that it’s hard to place her eccentric brand of humor because it is totally original. A real find..
Honey & Spice
By Bolu Babalola
Published by William Morrow & Company
Babalola is an unabashed rom-com fan and her first novel plunges us into English academia, ripe with possibilities. Her appealing heroine is an Afro-Caribbean student known for her peppery radio show that has become a big success on campus. Her name, Kiki Banjo gives you an idea of her personality. Kiki’s (and the author’s) encyclopedic knowledge of music helps drive the success of the show. Underneath it all, she is looking for love which has possibly appeared in the form of a transfer student with whom she forges a professional arrangement. Might this be the romantic adventure she is looking for?
By Elisa Albert
Published by Avid Reader Press
Music figures prominently in Albert’s provocative and timely fiction about one woman’s struggle to become a mother. Her journey becomes a rollercoaster ride of infertility, as our heroine decides how far to go to get what she thinks she wants—or what her family wants. We follow Aviva, the Jewish punk-rocker who lives with her husband in Albany, through the cycles of her exploding career and her ticking biological clock. Hers is a singular feminist voice that shines a light on society’s expectations of women, the emotional costs of medical intervention and the complicated consequences of fame. The novel bustles with raw energy, wit and the pathos of a serious subject made raucously relatable..
By Anuradha Roy
Published by Harpervia
Roy, a much-awarded novelist, sets her newest novel in her home country of India and in England. A young potter, Elango, fantasizes about the perfect terra cotta horse, and how to make it. But as a Hindu, he experiences the prohibitions of his society, particularly when he falls in love with a Muslim girl. Through its subtly political plot The Earthspinner explores the role of the artist with a dreamlike vision of society and highlights the disparities in the cultures of each country. The lovely way in which Roy uses the art and craft of pottery as a metaphor for change and possibility is enthralling.