"I love all of Joan Silber's work for her mastery of character, her ferocious and searching compassion, and her elegant lines that make the mind hum for hours. Improvement is so crisp and resonant a novel that it made me forget the chaos of life around me; a feat for which I'm truly grateful." -- Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies
One of our most gifted writers of fiction returns with a bold and piercing novel about a young single mother living in New York, her eccentric aunt, and the decisions they make that have unexpected implications for the world around them.
Reyna knows her relationship with Boyd isn't perfect, yet as she visits him throughout his three-month stint at Rikers Island, their bond grows tighter. Kiki, now settled in the East Village after a journey that took her to Turkey and around the world, admires her niece's spirit but worries that she always picks the wrong man. Little does she know that the otherwise honorable Boyd is pulling Reyna into a cigarette smuggling scheme, across state lines, where he could risk violating probation. When Reyna ultimately decides to remove herself for the sake of her four-year-old child, her small act of resistance sets into motion a tapestry of events that affect the lives of loved ones and strangers around them.
A novel that examines conviction, connection, and the possibility of generosity in the face of loss, Improvement is as intricately woven together as Kiki's beloved Turkish rugs, as colorful as the tattoos decorating Reyna's body, with narrative twists and turns as surprising and unexpected as the lives all around us. The Boston Globe says of Joan Silber: "No other writer can make a few small decisions ripple across the globe, and across time, with more subtlety and power." Improvement is Silber's most shining achievement yet.
Behold the Dreamers
By Mbue, Imbolo
A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream - the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty - and Jende is eager to please. Clark's wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses' summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers' faÃ§ades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende's job - even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
Praise for Behold the Dreamers
"A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller." - The Washington Post
"Mbue writes with great confidence and warmth. . . . There are a lot of spinning plates and Mbue balances them skillfully, keeping everything in motion. . . . A capacious, big-hearted novel." - The New York Times Book Review
"Mbue's writing is warm and captivating." - People (book of the week)
"[Mbue's] book isn't the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, but it's surely one of the best. . . . It's a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American." - NPR
"Imbolo Mbue's masterful debut about an immigrant family struggling to obtain the elusive American Dream in Harlem will have you feeling for each character from the moment you crack it open." - In Style
"This story is one that needs to be told." - Bust
"Behold theDreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred." - O: The Oprah Magazine
"[A] beautiful, empathetic novel . . . Mbue's narrative energy and sympathetic eye soon render . . . commonplace ingredients vivid, complex, and essential." - The Boston Globe
"A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts, plumbing the desires and disappointments of our emerging global culture." - Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A revelation . . . Mbue has written a clever morality tale that never preaches but instead teaches us the power of integrity." - Essence
By Hannaham, James
"Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace. Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there. In Delicious Foods, James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene's haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene's travails, Hannaham's daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor. The desperate circumstances that test the unshakeable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham's treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion. Along the way we experience a tale at once contemporary and historical that wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive"--
Little Brown and Company
Preparation for the Next Life
By Lish, Atticus
Winner of the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction New York Times Best of 2014 Wall Street Journal's Best of 2014 Vanity Fair's Best of 2014 Publishers Weekly's Best of 2014 BuzzFeed's Best of 2014
Zou Lei, orphan of the desert, migrates to work in America and finds herself slaving in New York's kitchens. She falls in love with a young man whose heart has been broken in another desert. A new life may be possible if together they can survive homelessness, lockup, and the young man's nightmares, which may be more prophecy than madness.
Praise for Preparation for the Next Life
"Perhaps the finest and most unsentimental love story of the new decade." -The New York Times
"As bold and urgent a love story as you'll read this year." -Wall Street Journal
"A sledgehammer to the American dream." -Kirkus Reviews
"One of the most acclaimed debut novelists of the year." - New York Observer
Lish (Life Is with People) turns to fiction with this stunning debut novel that plums the underbelly of New York City, tracing the relationship of Zou Lei, a Chinese immigrant working in a tiny noodle restaurant, and Skinner, an AWOL Iraqi war veteran and wanderer. Enduring stints in prison and homelessness, Zou Lei and Skinner experience life on society's fringes. Lish destroys the American dream with struggles his characters face and New York City is anything but idyllic. Zou Lei and Skinner have their budding relationship tested by insurmountable odds, and their own foibles and peculiarities are rendered with vivid detail. Lish's prose is at once raw and disciplined, and every word feels necessary. -Publishers Weekly
"So much of American fiction has become playful, cynical and evasive. "Preparation for the Next Life" is the strong antidote to such inconsequentialities. Powerfully realistic, with a solemn, muscular lyricism, this is a very, very good book." -Joy Williams
The "next life" of Atticus Lish's novel is the one you have to die to know. It's also the next civilian life of a soldier ravaged by three tours in Iraq, and the dodgy life of an immigrant in the city's sleepless boroughs. The work is violent, swift, and gloriously descriptive. It is love story and lament, a haunting record of unraveling lives. Lish says starkly and with enormous power: the spirit prevails until it doesn't. A stunning debut.
--Noy Holland, author of Swim for the Little One First
An illegal Chinese immigrant meets a broken American warrior, and the great love story of the 21st century begins. The intersection of their paths seems inevitable, irrevocable. Their story: tender, violent, terrible, and beautiful. Atticus Lish's prose, lyrical and taut, sentences as exact and indisputable as chemical formulas, is trance-like, evangelical in its ability to convert and convince its reader. Preparation for the Next Life is that rare novel that grabs you by the shirt and slaps you hard in the face. Look, it says. It isn't pretty. Turn away at your own risk. In case you haven't noticed, the American Dream has become a nightmare. Atticus Lish has your wake up call. He has created a new prototype of the hero, and her journey provides us with a devastating perspective on the "promised land" of the post 9/11 U.S., where being detained is a rite of passage and the banality of violence is simply part of the pre-apocalyptic landscape. -Christopher Kennedy, Ennui Prophet
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
By Fowler, Karen Joy
Named a Best of 2013 pick by: The New York Times Book Review, Slate, Newsday, Chicago Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, The Christian Science Monitor, Library Journal, and BookPage
"I thought this was a gripping, big-hearted book . . . through the tender voice of her protagonist, Fowler has a lot to say about family, memory, language, science, and indeed the question of what constitutes a human being."--Khaled Hosseini
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club, the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one. But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel.
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us. "It's never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern's expulsion, I'd scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."
Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she's managed to block a lot of memories. She's smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, "Rosemary" truly is for remembrance.
Penguin Group USA
Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club
By Saenz, Benjamin Alire
Winner of the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction!Benjamin Alire Sáenz's stories reveal how all bordersreal, imagined, sexual, human, the line between dark and light, addict and straightentangle those who live on either side. Take, for instance, the Kentucky Club on Avenida Juárez two blocks south of the Rio Grande. It's a touchstone for each of Sáenz's stories. His characters walk by, they might go in for a drink or to score, or they might just stay there for a while and let their story be told. Sáenz knows that the Kentucky Club, like special watering holes in all cities, is the contrary to borders. It welcomes Spanish and English, Mexicans and gringos, poor and rich, gay and straight, drug addicts and drunks, laughter and sadness, and even despair.
Cinco Puntos Press; First Edition edition
The Buddha in the Attic
By Otsuka, Julie
Finalist for the 2011 National Book Award
Julie Otsuka's long awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine ("To watch Emperor catching on with teachers and students in vast numbers is to grasp what must have happened at the outset for novels like Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird" - The New York Times) is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as 'picture brides' nearly a century ago.
In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.
In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream.
Knopf; 1 edition
The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg
By Eisenberg, Deborah
“One of America’s finest writers.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Concentrated bursts of perfection.”—The Times (London) “Shimmering stories that possess the power and charm to move us.” —The New York Times “Exhilarating.”—Harper’s Magazine “Outstanding.”—Christian Science Monitor “Eisenberg simply writes like no one else.”—Elle “Eisenberg’s stories possess all the steely beauty of a knife wrapped in velvet.”—The Boston Globe “Dazzling.”—Time Out New York “Magic.
Picador; First Edition edition
By Alexie, Sherman
Fresh off his National Book Award win, Alexie delivers a heartbreaking, hilarious collection of stories that explores the precarious balance between self-preservation and external responsibility in art, family, and the world at large. With unparalleled insight into the minds of artists, laborers, fathers, husbands, and sons, Alexie populates his stories with ordinary men on the brink of exceptional change. In a bicoastal journey through the consequences of both simple and monumental life choices, Alexie introduces us to personal worlds as they transform beyond return. In the title story, a famous writer must decide how to care for his distant father who is slowly dying a "natural Indian death" from alcohol and diabetes, just as he learns that he himself may have a brain tumor.
By O'neill, Joseph
In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 911, Hans--a banker originally from the Netherlands--finds himself marooned among the strange occupants of the Chelsea Hotel after his English wife and son return to London. Alone and untethered, feeling lost in the country he had come to regard as home, Hans stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a charismatic and charming Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon, begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. Ramkissoon, a Gatsby-like figure who is part idealist and part operator, introduces Hans to an other New York populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality. Hans is alternately seduced and instructed by Chucks particular brand of naivete and chutzpah--by his ability to a hold fast to a sense of American and human possibility in which Hans has come to lose faith.
Pantheon; 1 edition
The Great Man
By Christensen, Kate
From the acclaimed author of The Epicure's Lament, a novel of literary rivalry in which two competing biographers collide in their quest for the truth about a great artist.Oscar Feldman, the "Great Man," was a New York city painter of the heroic generation of the forties and fifties. But instead of the abstract canvases of the Pollocks and Rothkos, he stubbornly hewed to painting one subject—the female nude. When he died in 2001, he left behind a wife, Abigail, an autistic son, and a sister, Maxine, herself a notable abstract painter—all duly noted in the New York Times obituary.What no one knows is that Oscar Feldman led an entirely separate life in Brooklyn with his longtime mistress, Teddy St. Cloud, and their twin daughters. As the incorrigibly bohemian Teddy puts it, "He couldn't live without a woman around.
Doubleday; First Edition edition
By Roth, Philip
Philip Roths new novel is a candidly intimate yet universal story of loss, regret, and stoicism. The best-selling author of The Plot Against America now turns his attention from xone familys harrowing encounter with historyx New York Times to one mans lifelong skirmish with mortality.The fate of Roths everyman is traced from his first shocking confrontation with death on the idyllic beaches of his childhood summers, through the family trials and professional achievements of his vigorous adulthood, and into his old age, when he is rended by observing the deterioration of his contemporaries and stalked by his own physical woes.A successful commercial artist with a New York ad agency, he is the father of two sons from a first marriage who despise him and a daughter from a second marriage who adores him.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition
By Doctorow, E.l.
In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces and lived off the land, pillaging the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, demolishing cities, and accumulating a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the uprooted, the dispossessed, and the triumphant. Only a master novelist could so powerfully and compassionately render the lives of those who marched. The author of Ragtime, City of God, and The Book of Daniel has given us a magisterial work with an enormous cast of unforgettable characterswhite and black, men, women, and children, unionists and rebels, generals and privates, freed slaves and slave owners.
Random House; 1st edition
By Jin, Ha
War Trash, the extraordinary new novel by the National Book Award-winning author of Waiting, is Ha Jin's most ambitious work to date: a powerful, unflinching story that opens a window on an unknown aspect of a little-known war - the experiences of Chinese POWs held by Americans during the Korean conflict - and paints an intimate portrait of conformity and dissent against a sweeping canvas of confrontation.Set in 1951-53, War Trash takes the form of the memoir of Yu Yuan, a young Chinese army officer, one of a corps of "volunteers" sent by Mao to help shore up the Communist side in Korea. When Yu is captured, his command of English thrusts him into the role of unofficial interpreter in the psychological warfare that defines the POW camp.Taking us behind the barbed wire, Ha Jin draws on true historical accounts to render the complex world the prisoners inhabit - a world of strict surveillance and complete allegiance to authority.
Print book : Fiction : EnglishView all editions and formats
The Early Stories
By Updike, John
“He is a religious writer; he is a comic realist; he knows what everything feels like, how everything works. He is putting together a body of work which in substantial intelligent creation will eventually be seen as second to none in our time.”—William H. Pritchard, The Hudson Review, reviewing Museums and Women (1972)A harvest and not a winnowing, The Early Stories preserves almost all of the short fiction John Updike published between 1954 and 1975. The stories are arranged in eight sections, of which the first, “Olinger Stories,” already appeared as a paperback in 1964; in its introduction, Updike described Olinger, Pennsylvania, as “a square mile of middle-class homes physically distinguished by a bend in the central avenue that compels some side streets to deviate from the grid pattern.
Knopf; 1st edition
By Murray, Sabina
From an acclaimed young author of Filipino background comes this history told through individual lives. The Caprices revolves around the Pacific Campaign of World War II. In the wreckage of bombed cities and overcrowded prison camps, there were no winners and no conquerors, and no nation truly triumphed. Set in Southeast Asia, Australia, and the United States, these stories bring to life ordinary people who must rely on extraordinary measures of faith and imagination. In "Order of Precedence," an Indian officer starving to death in a prison camp remembers playing polo during his days in India. In "Folly," the last days of Amelia Earhart are imagined as the Japanese prepare for war. In "Colossus," an American veteran in his eighties recalls the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and the infamous death march of 1941.
By Patchett, Ann
"Blissfully Romantic ... .A strange, terrific, spellcasting story." - San Francisco Chronicle"Bel Canto ... should be on the list of every literate music lover. The story is riveting, the participants breathe and feel and are alive, and throughout this elegantly-told novel, music pours forth so splendidly that the reader hears it and is overwhelmed by its beauty." - Lloyd Moss, WXQR"Glorious." - The New YorkerAnn Pratchett's award winning, New York Times bestselling Bel Canto balances themes of love and crisis as disparate characters learn that music is their only common language. As in Patchett's other novels, including Truth & Beauty and The Magician's Assistant, the author's lyrical prose and lucid imagination make Bel Canto a captivating story of strength and frailty, love and imprisonment, and an inspiring tale of transcendent romance.
The Human Stain
By Roth, Philip
It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished his most virulent accuser. Coleman Silk has a secret. But it's not the secret of his affair, at seventy-one, with Faunia Farley, a woman half his age with a savagely wrecked past--a part-time farmhand and a janitor at the college where, until recently, he was the powerful dean of faculty. And it's not the secret of Coleman's alleged racism, which provoked the college witch-hunt that cost him his job and, to his mind, killed his wife.