September 12, 2020
This week offers an array of tantalizing Fall arrivals with characters from a variety of backgrounds and, we hope, for every literary taste—a Pakistani-American writer, a Montana girl living off the grid, a Ghanaian bride, an Irish detective, and an imperiled Brooklyn tour guide. If it is too hard to choose, maybe just try them all.
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Ayad Akhtar
Published by Little, Brown
A profoundly provocative novel that reads like autobiography, it quickly plunges the reader headlong into the complex life of a first-generation American. Our narrator’s hard-won struggle for success as a writer is fraught with the pitfalls of being of Pakistani descent in the United States, living through 9/11 and anti-Muslim racism, and the first flush of celebrity. But above all, it is a portrait of a son and his relationship with his aging father, whose growing ambivalence about the American dream brings issues of homeland to the foreground. Beautifully done.
By Maxim Loskutoff
Published by W.W. Norton
You shouldn’t miss this truly unforgettable character. Ruthie and her single father are living on the knife-edge of poverty in an inhospitable part of lawless Montana. Clashes between the unspoiled natural environment and the lure of civilization present Ruthie with divergent paths toward an uncertain future. And the American Western landscape looms large, as in Lostukoff’s extraordinary story collection Come West and See. A terrific blend of character, place and story..
His Only Wife
By Peace Adzo Medie
Published by Algonquin Books
“I had never heard of a man missing his wedding because of a business trip.” In this sharp and witty debut, Afi is faced with balancing her arranged marriage to an absent, older, wealthy man from Accra and her duties to her widowed mother. Medie, born in Liberia, educated in Ghana and currently a lecturer of Gender Politics, balances the political with a healthy dose of comedy through her captivating storytelling.
By Ian McGuire
Published by Random House
McGuire’s ability to evoke the political climate of 1860’s England, with the Irish Underground movement boiling beneath the surface, is uncanny. The jagged journey of his two main characters, an Irish detective searching for the catalyst behind several killings, and his violent, murderous nemesis fill this gritty novel with the authenticity, sights, and smells of a cinematic rendering of events. (For another taste of McGuire’s talent, (re)read his prize-winning novel, The North Water), then watch for the forthcoming BBC mini-series..
When No One Is Watching
By Alyssa Cole
Published by William Morrow
For our local readers and beyond, a Brooklyn-set thriller you’ll tear through in a couple of sittings, Cole’s creepy novel of psycho-suspense has echoes of the film Get Out. The gentrification of her heroine’s neighborhood is troubling enough, but where have all the friends and neighbors who’ve been pushed out gone to? Find out when you devour this paperback novel that landed on many of the Fall 2020 watch lists.
How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic
By Bill Hayes
Published by Bloomsbury
This brief, moving book (the title is taken from Susan Sontag’s 1986 essay) documents life in New York under COVID. Some images are almost unimaginable today. Pictures taken shortly before lockdown of revelers tangoing on a pier, or back-to-back car lights on 8th Avenue. Public gatherings? Traffic jams? In his photographic diary Hayes observes with a poignant eye, leaving a record of the here and now as a powerful reminder in years to come of what we lived through in the year 2020..