March 6, 2021
The seven works of new fiction in this week’s selection come from a variety of smaller publishers. There are many vibrant voices to be discovered at independent presses, and as booksellers we are always looking for writers to hand-sell that may not be well known as yet, or at least not household names. Three of these gems are in translation.
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Forsyth Harmon
Published by Tin House Books
This novel is appealing on so many levels: it’s a coming-of-age story set in the 90s that captures a girl crush as it turns to obsession and more; it’s an illustrated story, not a graphic novel, but greatly enhanced by the pictures; and it’s a crossover book that teens will love, too. Harmon has collaborated with many writers, but this is her first time illustrating her own work.
By SEMEZDIN MEHMEDINOVIĆ
Published by Catapult
Translated by Celia Hawkesworth
Bosnian poet and filmmaker Mehmedinović arrived in the U.S. with his family as political refugees in 1996. His work, including the poetry anthology Sarajevo Blues, captures the importance of love and family in the midst of war, illness (see: the title) and dislocation. This new auto-fiction is immediate and affective with, as Aleksandar Hemon says in his introduction, a ‘sense of total presence’ that makes this work so powerful..
By Takis Würger
Published by Grove Press
Translated by Liesl Schillinger
Growing up in idyllic Switzerland with an artist mother who drinks and a father who travels, Friedrich longs to see more of the world. He moves to Berlin in 1942 as Hitler is tightening the noose of his final solution. There he meets his muse, who turns out to be Jewish passing for Aryan. Their tale is short and bittersweet—a moving historical love story in a quite wonderful translation.
By Jakob Guanzon
Published by Graywolf
In the American Heartland a father and son struggle to survive, living in a pickup truck. This is a story close to home for many Americans today. Guanzon’s visceral portrait of eviction, poverty, opioids, and prison is told in chapters designated by how much (or little) money they have as they search for the abundance they so desperately need. A tough subject, beautifully rendered..
The Impudent Ones
By Marguerite Duras
Published by New Press
Translated by Kelsey L. Haskett
A cult figure since her 1984 novel, The Lover, appeared, Duras’s writing is synonymous with seduction, betrayal, and scandal. This is the first English publication of her semi-autobiographical 1943 debut novel—cause for much excitement in readers and scholars alike. The story explores a dysfunctional Parisian family and siblings at odds with each other and the world. Eye opening reading about one writer’s beginnings.
By Lucy Ives
Published by Soft Skull
Ives’s recently published novel Loudermilk was a hugely entertaining academic satire. In Cosmogony, the stories mix genres and styles, Wikipedia entries with text messages, magical thinking with the mundane to form a wild and witty collection. The author of a dozen books (poetry, fiction)—just try to box her into a category—each one feels unique in form and content. Ives is utterly inventive, the essence of contemporary literature today..
The Seed Keeper
By Diane Wilson
Published by Milkweed Editions
Wilson has chronicled the Dakhóta way of life in essays and a memoir. Her new novel touches on many topics of interest today—a vanishing way of Native life, living with trauma, the importance of the preservation of nature—told from the POV of four strong-hearted women led by Rosalie Iron Wing. They are determined to protect the Dakhóta heritage and their families, and the seeds that bind them.
Read ‘How Seeds Hold Stories,’ an illuminating conversation between Wilson and Milkweed fellow Kachina Yeager about the custom beadwork featured on the book’s striking cover.