Fly and Stela meet in New York City, and it’s fate. As they discover more about each other through their budding romance, the two must decide whether they’re meant to be. The answer, they find, lays decades earlier, as early as their parents’ earliest loves. In Monster in the Middle, Tiphanie Yanique (winner of The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for Land of Love and Drowning) explores how family lore and intergenerational emotional inheritance shape one couple’s emotional and riveting love story. She joined The Center for Fiction for a discussion on the launch of this electric new novel with author Brandon Taylor (Real Life).
Monster in the Middle
By Tiphanie Yanique
Published by Random House
When Fly and Stela meet in 21st Century New York City, it seems like fate. He’s a Black American musician from a mixed-religious background who knows all about heartbreak. She’s a Catholic science teacher from the Caribbean, looking for lasting love. But are they meant to be? The answer goes back decades—all the way to their parents’ earliest loves.
Vibrant and emotionally riveting, Monster in the Middle moves across decades, from the U.S. to the Virgin Islands to Ghana and back again, to show how one couple’s romance is intrinsically influenced by the family lore and love stories that preceded their own pairing. What challenges and traumas must this new couple inherit, what hopes and ambitions will keep them moving forward? Exploring desire and identity, religion and class, passion and obligation, the novel posits that in order to answer the question “who are we meant to be with?” we must first understand who we are and how we came to be.
Tiphanie Yanique is the author of the award-winning novel Land of Love and Drowning, as well as the poetry collection Wife. Winner of The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize in 2014, and a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree, she has also received a Rona Jaffe Award and a Fulbright scholarship. Her short fiction has been published in the New Yorker and anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2020. Originally from the Virgin Islands, she now lives in Atlanta, where she is a professor at Emory University.
Photo Credit: Kay Hinton
Brandon Taylor is the author of the acclaimed novel Real Life, which has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and been named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. The senior editor of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and a staff writer at Lit Hub, he holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in fiction.