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Set in 1986 Southern California, Alan Drew’s Shadow Man follows the story of Detective Ben Wade, whose search for a serial killer brings to light his own troubled upbringing. Drew’s novel provides a new take on thrillers, with more of a focus on characters and place. In this way, Drew turns the classic detective novel into a work of literary fiction.
In her debut essay collection, This Will Be My Undoing, twenty-five-year old Morgan Jerkins explores a number of topics that are essential to today’s political climate. She describes the complexities of growing up and living as a black woman in America, delving into cultural and social criticism while remaining true to her own personal experiences.
Tayari Jones’s novel An American Marriage details the story of Roy and Celestial, a couple living in Georgia. The narrative is a familiar one: a man goes to prison for a crime he did not commit, while his wife continues to live her life in the outside world.
Rumaan Alam opens his second novel by plunging us immediately into Rebecca Stone’s interiority, introducing us to this character just as she gives birth to her first child.
“The first time I ever felt it—the buzz—I was almost thirteen,” writes Leslie Jamison in the opening of her memoir, The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath. From there Jamison’s story unfolds, and we begin to see the ways in which addiction takes a hold of her life.
In a memoir about her transracial adoption, Nicole Chung tells the story of growing up as the only person of color in a white family and her search for some sense of understanding of her past.
Lexi Freiman’s debut novel, Inappropriation, centers on Australian teenager Ziggy Klein just after she leaves her Jewish school to attend the all-girls private school Kandara. Taking us through the day-to-day life of Ziggy, Freiman masters the art of satire, poking fun at both high school culture and identity politics. In some sense, this can be described as a satirical coming-of-age novel, as a pre-pubescent Ziggy attempts to understand herself and her place in the ever-changing high school landscape.
Moshfegh’s novel follows a conventionally beautiful 26-year-old woman—tall, thin, blonde—who has no real need to work, living on the Upper East Side in the year 2000, surviving off her dead parents’ inheritance. She has all the privilege and benefits afforded to a young, wealthy, white woman in New York, but all she wants to do is sleep.
R.O. Kwon’s debut novel The Incendiaries feels like a book meant to be read in a manic frenzy, with the reader stringing together a series of memories and clues to get to the end.
Rebecca Solnit’s essay collection Call Them By Their True Names deals with an America in crisis.
Amanda Goldblatts forthcoming debut novel, Hard Mouth, follows Denny, short for Denise, a twenty-something woman and only child who has been watching her father battle cancer for ten years.
In todays political climate, people, particularly women, are angryand rightfully so. Burn It Down, the forthcoming anthology of essays edited by Lilly Dancyger, features 22 writers who explore what it means to be angry and the reasons for their anger as women today.
A little over a year ago, author Kevin Wilson came out with a collection of short, somewhat fantastical stories titled Baby, Youre Gonna Be Mine, which I reviewed in a 2018 issue of the Rail. This year, Wilson returns with another fantastical tale, a novel titled Nothing to See Here, about two strange children who spontaneously combust when theyre upset.
Mona Eltahawys feminist manifesto, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls (2019), is written, Eltahawy says, with enough rage to fuel a rocket. Eltahawy is an Egyptian feminist activist and journalist whose experiences and writings have been hugely important in our current time.
Godshot is a story about religious fanaticism, mother loss, a stolen childhood, and the search for salvation. Bieker deftly builds the world of Lacey May, who is desperate for some sense of purpose in her small town.
The Iranian American writer, who fled Iran with her parents as a toddler, describes the physical and mental struggles shes undergone for years, lasting to this day.
Jones takes us through his childhood and adolescence, through feelings of shame and sadness, through incidents in which he learns he would never belong or find peace within certain groups and social circles. The story draws you in as he talks about his relationship with his evangelical grandmother and how her beliefs contrast with the Buddhist beliefs of his mother. Joness story becomes particularly heartbreaking in the ways he discusses his mother, her struggle to understand his sexuality, and the sacrifices she makes for him as a single mother.
Kevin Wilson’s short story collection Baby, Youre Gonna Be Mine features ten odd, somewhat quirky short stories about grief, regret, longing, and the human condition. Through a series of sometimes strange and mysterious events involving his characters, Wilson shows us the often complicated nature of relationships between family, partners, and friends.