October 29, 2022
There are four authors this week who have been recently acknowledged by the prestigious Booker Prize. The fifth is a special treat—a previously unpublished novel by a fan favorite writer who we will celebrate at The Center this coming week. Each is deserving of high honors.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Graeme Macrae Burnet
Published by Biblioasis
Scotland-based novelist Burnet’s newly released novel, which was longlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize, reads like a fast-paced thriller written by Samuel Beckett. It is a conversation between Braithwaite, a questionable psychiatrist/memoirist, and his client/diarist, both unreliable narrators. She is a mousy English girl whose more glamorous sister recently committed suicide and who uses the name Rebecca Smyth for her clandestine appointments. We bounce between these two voices becoming immersed in both their outer and inner lives, rife with fantasy, projection, and egomania. It is as fascinating as reading a Freudian case study—both cringey and full of anticipatory dread. Signed copies while they last.
By Claire Keegan
Published by Grove Press
Keegan was recently shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Small Things Like These, a beautiful Christmas novella. She is lovely at capturing big and small family moments in just a few pages that have an old-fashioned feel. Foster is another moving short novel, previously published in a different form in the New Yorker. The tale concerns a young girl brought to rural Ireland one summer to live with relatives where she experiences a welcoming affection she has never known. But there is more to the simple story, and one wonders if her father will return to bring her back home. Both of Keegan’s novellas are beautifully designed hardcover books that you should buy together and set on your nightstand..
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
By Shehan Karunatilaka
Published by W. W. Norton
Perfect timing: The first U.S. publication of this year’s Booker Prize-winning novel is just out in bookstores. “If you had a business card, this is what it would say. Maali Almeida. Photographer. Gambler. Slut. If you had a gravestone, it would say Malinda Albert Kabbalana 1955-1990.” Thus begins this absorbing novel, set against the Sri Lankan civil war. Maali is dreaming of his afterlife and must race against time (seven moons) to discover the papers that will reveal who killed him. Magical, Seven Moons (as many years in the making) combines the supernatural and the political—absurdist satire at its best.
By Percival Everett
Published by Graywolf Press
Trees, Everett’s powerful novel based on Emmett Till, was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize. Now he has crafted a caper about…nothing. Everett’s protagonist is a brilliant mathematician, and his cast features a Bond villain (hence the title) and references to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. The novel becomes a cunning exploration of race, gender, and God. He has said of his characters that, “…their pursuit of nothing is a response to a materialistic world that offers many somethings that finally don’t amount to much and are not satisfying.” It’s worth the ride, and definitely adds up to ‘something’ for all readers..
By Katherine Dunn
Published by MCD
If you’ve never read Geek Love, Dunn’s 1989 bestselling literary phenomenon about a circus family of geeks, it is a must. The new book, released posthumously, is an unpublished novel written years before it, and is fairly autobiographical. The story references the author’s own dark period when she was a single mother/bartender. It features an eccentric protagonist who lives on the fringes of society. Sally is a reclusive, rueful young woman whose companion is a garden toad, and whose life has been a progression of bad choices. Toad is a gritty, humorous story, a literary landmark, and a compelling portrait of 60s outsiders in Portland.