A wholly original, well-researched examination of the memory of slavery in this country from its abolition to the present. The authors use the city of Charleston in South Carolina as a lens to show that following the Civil War there emerged two distinct threads as to how slavery would come to be remembered. One thread was that of the romanticized memory of the Old South put forth by descendants of the former slaveholders and the other thread was an unvarnished account of the brutality of slavery that came from the descendants of the former slaves and some white allies. These two narratives continued to evolve, become entrenched, and even intertwine so that as the authors follow the threads within the community of Charleston over time they provide a vital key to the understanding of many of the current events which continue to divide our nation in the present day.
This is Palahniuk at his best. A completely (hopefully) insane scenario where our country runs amok when a group of men decide to overthrow the government and those they brand as elitist with violence and install themselves as the new ruling class and then divide the United States into three regions based on race and sexual orientation. As improbable as many of the things that come to pass are in this novel, Palahniuk deftly skewers the subconscious of our society and seemingly has a great time doing it. The reader will have a great time too and one can only shake their head and laugh to themselves while marveling at what a wild genius this writer is.
Two time National Book Award finalist, Kushner will continue to astound readers with her third novel. It is a fierce, unflinching look at life in prison featuring a female cast of characters who don't claim to be innocent but remain fully realized people shown in all their humanity. At times the story is harrowing but it can also be funny and ultimately it is so well observed that one feels a real sense that this is how it must be to live your life behind bars without hope of parole. Highly recommended.
A stellar debut novel from a rising star we are bound to hear more from in the future. With a killer title like that and being Nigerian you had better nail it and Onuzo definitely backs it up. Chike Ameobi is an army officer fighting the rebellion in the Niger Delta but when he is asked to kill innocent civilians he and one of his platoon members decide to desert. No sooner than they escape the war zone Chike finds himself becoming the de-facto leader of a new rag tag crew of runaways looking for a fresh start in Lagos. The city comes alive in Onuzo’s deft hands and the result is a tale that will stay with you for some time.
It's still pretty early in the year but I'm pretty confident when I say that this will be one of the best works of fiction you are likely to read in 2018. Kevin Powers announced his arrival on the literary scene with his debut Yellow Birds, a powerful novel of modern war which went on to be a finalist for the National Book Award. Now he returns with a searing story of the Civil War and its long aftermath. Spanning over one hundred years and featuring a cast of characters whose lives are interwoven seamlessly, A Shout in the Ruins is a stunning achievement.
Like so many fans of William Gay's work I've been waiting to read this seemingly mythical work, The Lost Country, for a quite some time. Gay's elegiac prose sings once again as he breaths life into his characters and mines his patch of soil with the skill of the old masters. The Lost Country is the story of Billy Edgewater and his hard journey through a post World War II South filled with the downtrodden - hucksters, racists, drunks, bad or lost men and women - all trying to make it in a harsh rural setting that is unforgiving yet beautiful.
I so loved this charming novel. It's the perfect summer read. Julie and David were briefly married utill she lost a baby and he realized he was gay. It's now been almost 30 years since they've seen or talked to each other but as she's getting divorced from her second husband and he's reeling from the break up with his long time partner they find that they may be able to help one another. A tender, sharp-witted tale of family, mid-life crisis, and second chances. Brilliantly done.
King is a well known musicologist and a rabid 78 rpm record collector who brings his passion for forgotten but pure music to this quirky odyssey which delves into history and traditions of a little known place called Epirus. Straddling Albania and Greece, this region is the source of a strange and hypnotic folk music which the author discovered after acquiring a few records overseas. Once he hears that the traditional songs are still played today virtually unchanged since the last century, he decides that he must go there and so begins a fascinating journey.
This is a wild and winning work of literature presented as a blend of fiction and reportage that tells the story of Cameron Harris, a twenty six year old army vet rendered a paraplegic who after four years in a wheelchair suddenly walks again. As the news spreads of his immaculate recovery while waiting outside of a convenience store in Biloxi, Harris must grapple with the ideas of faith, identity, celebrity, and ultimately the secrets each of us harbor deep within ourselves. Miles has deftly crafted a madcap novel skewering our contemporary culture which is perfect for this hyper social age in which we live.
Matt Young enlisted in 2005 and was deployed on three tours to Iraq so he is well qualified to give an insiders view of the inner mechanics of the day to day experience of the modern day soldier. Perhaps this in itself would be enough to peek your interest but here's the thing—Young can flat out write and he employs an innovative blend of styles that results in a brutally honest and compelling look at what it is like to serve in the armed forces during the longest period of war in the history of this country.
Finally, New Orleans has the great novel it deserves. The birth of Jazz, the infamous Axeman murders. the Spanish Influenza epidemic, the social stratification and its undercurrents that have always held sway over the city are all a part of the story here. Nathaniel Rich delivers a beautiful, haunting tale full of great characters that will linger in your mind just like the fabled music born in the crescent city.
This debut novel is gritty, real, and brave just like the characters and the community from which they come. Aliu mines her hometown of Waterbury, CT and her family's Lithuanian/Albanian heritage to spin a compelling coming of age story full of heart and humanity. Reminiscent of the work of Andre Dubus III in its toughness and working class roots, Brass delivers a voice and a story that is wholly original.
This is the fascinating story of Mealer's family over the course of several generations. Like many American families in the late 19th and early 20th century they migrated west and settled in Texas hoping to find land, oil, and wealth. As Mealer tells his clan's tale he vividly recreates the occasional booms and mostly busts, the boll weevil infestations and dust storms, the Great Depression and the World Wars, all of which affected this tight knit group of survivors. The result is a sweeping history filled with rough people and wild tales that will stay with you for some time.
Willy Vlautin always manages to throw light on the invisible working class scraping by and trying to catch up with their dreams of a life and an America that is seemingly just out of reach. His latest novel is the story of Horace Hopper, a loner who wants more than anything to become a champion boxer. As we follow Horace on his journey from the mountains of Nevada to Arizona then Mexico and ultimately Las Vegas, we see him struggle to make it on the circuit only to find out that in the end you can't change who you really are. Beautiful, heart-wrenching yet full of tenderness and compassion.
A powerful and devastatingly honest book. A memoir in pieces is the subtitle and that's an excellent way to describe the construction of Davies's essay length vignettes that she uses to tell the story of her life. From being a small child who moves too often with her family, to being a young woman finding her way in the world, to raising children her own particular way, we see Davies bare all with sharp writing and hard earned insight.