January 6, 2023
A selection of five new novels with page-turning plots by women start off our reading in the new year. Here we have a novelist whose 2020 debut was a breakout bestseller; a celebrated American poet’s latest; a Cypriot American prize-winner; the eleventh book of fiction by a London journalist; and a historical novel based on an American classic. Get comfy on the couch with a warm blanket and prepare to be transported.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
Come & Get It
By Kiley Reid
Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons
Revisit the agony of college with all the twisted dynamics of dorm life! Reid’s latest is set in a Southern school where Millie, one of the few Black students, is an R.A.; Kennedy is a transfer student fleeing a horrific accident; and Agatha is a lesbian professor working on an ethically questionable book. Each character’s interior life is meticulously detailed as well as what they wear and eat, their naïve conversations, the mean girl pettiness, and the glaring class disparities. This novel is funny, squirmy, nostalgic, and a spot-on portrait of life on the threshold of adulthood. Do I sense another bestseller for Reid?
Published by Cynthia Zarin
The title of acclaimed poet Zarin’s novel is the Italian word for winter. In her brief, exquisite book we return again and again to the image of Caroline in the snow in Central Park waiting to receive a call from Alastair. Through fluid time periods over decades and other relationships, their unbreakable bond persists—they are soulmates. “Sometimes she saw a phrase coming at her, like a gull swooping down over the sea from a great height.” That is how you will react to her beautiful language as well. “How unwise it is to look back. But it is all we know, the pictures hanging in our little hut of time.” How true..
The Book of Fire
By Christy Lefteri
Published by Ballantine Books
Lefteri’s novel explores the wildfires in Greece in 2018. Following a later visit to Mati to see the devastation for herself, she says, “Storytelling can have the power to draw someone into the lives of people who have lived through something… it can personalize events.” In her new book, she probes the cause of the disaster (a controlled fire gone awry), the people responsible, and the residents mourning the loss of the area’s vulnerable natural world. Through the eyes of one family, she makes the often-overwhelming issue of global warming more comprehensible by focusing on one small community and how it is affected.
Wild and Distant Seas
By W. W. Norton
Published by Tara Karr Roberts
In 1840s Nantucket, Evangeline, who has psychic powers to alter people’s memories, runs a local chowder house, and has recently lost her husband to the sea. Cut to the arrival of the sailor Ishmael and his cohort Queequeg about to embark on a whale hunt with Captain Ahab. Evangeline and Ishmael produce a daughter, Rachel (see: the rescue boat in Moby-Dick…), who years later goes on a journey to find her father. Roberts is a terrifically inventive and vivid writer (you can feel the sea air) and her concentration on generations of women is a fresh take on this classic..
By Julie Myerson
Published by Tin House
A searing depiction of the dynamics between mothers and daughters, Myerson portrays the heartbreak of having a child who seems hell-bent on ruining her life and the lives of everyone around her. As she is dropped off at rehab, her parents’ sense of freedom feels hollow. Her mother, our narrator, is a writer whose relationship to her own mother is also fraught—the novel centers the anguish these relationships can bring as well as the way writers process this trauma by using personal stories in their own fiction. Fiction or nonfiction? That is the question. This book is painful but beautiful and will linger in the reader’s consciousness.