An Untamed State
By Roxane Gay
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti's richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father's Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents. An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a wilful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
West of Here
By Jonathan Evison
Jonathan Evison opens his electrifying epic, West of Here, at the Elwha River dam, where over a hundred years since settlers of the fictional town of Port Bonita tamed the river, their descendants gather in anticipation of the dam's blasting, and a new era of restoration. Across the next five hundred pages, Evison's story moves between 2006 and the town's earliest days at the close of the 19th century, overlaying stories of the people who passed through or dug in at Port Bonita, which swelled from settlement to town on the ragged shoreline of Washington State's Strait of Juan de Fuca. The past is populated by intrepid folk: an exploration party penetrating the Olympic Mountain range in the depths of winter, Klallam natives sickened by homeland eviction and whiskey, a young feminist at odds with motherhood, a prostitute doing covert battle with her whorehouse's owner, and an idealistic entrepreneur, blasting the river canyon into submission. In 2006, we meet their softer progeny: an ex-con who flees into the mountains with a stash of Snickers, the lonely parole officer determined to find him, a fish processing plant worker with a Bigfoot fixation, a native woman who rethinks her whole life when her son has a psychic break, and more memorable characters haunted by the past, by their unlived lives, by themselves. Though its themes are weighty, West of Here never bogs down -irreverent humour, lustrous prose, and unexpected moments animate a tale as vast as the land it inhabits.
By Steven Millhauser
A magnificent collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author: stories from across three decades that showcase his indomitable imagination.Steven Millhauser's fiction has consistently, and to dazzling effect, dissolved the boundaries between reality and fantasy, waking life and dreams, the past and the future, darkness and light, love and lust. The stories gathered here unfurl in settings as disparate as nineteenth-century Vienna, a contemporary Connecticut town, the corridors of a monstrous museum, and Thomas Edison's laboratory, and they are inhabited by a wide-ranging cast of characters, including a knife thrower and teenage boys, ghosts and a cartoon cat and mouse. But all of the stories are united in their unfailing power to surprise and enchant. From the earliest to the stunning, previously unpublished novella-length title story-in which a man who is dead, but not quite gone, reaches out to two lonely women-Millhauser "makes our world turn amazing" (The New York Times Book Review).With this collection, Steven Millhauser carves out ever more deeply his wondrous place in the American literary canon.Praise for Steven Millhauser's Dangerous Laughter"There is a ferocious restlessness in [these] stories, a mingling of desire and dread...mesmerizing" - Cathleen Medwick, O, The Oprah Magazine "Tales fuelled by curiosity and wonder, from a master...dazzling" - Jeff Turrentine, Washington Post Book World"Beautiful and profound...Millhauser's work is among the most thought-provoking I've ever encountered" - David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Review "Millhauser is a marvel...Dangerous Laughter shimmers with eccentric research, sinuous explorations of the mysteries of artistic creation, and his preternatural sensitivity to the inner lives of children and adolescents...an experience that leaves [us] dazzles, enchanted" - Daniel Dyer, Cleveland Plain Dealer "Absorbing, impeccably imagined...the best [stories] linger strangely, like ghostly taps on your shoulder" - Gregory Kirschling, Entertainment Weekly"Prose wizardry...of such melodic wit and finesse that it's more akin to musicmaking than story telling" - Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times "Millhauser's lifelong loves-of cartoons, magic, board games, mechanical marvels of the 19th century and the quiet moments of daily life-shine through, and his taste for language and grasp of storytelling are flawless. Truly amazing stories." - Stewart O'Nan
How I Became a Famous Novelist
By Steve Hely
In this blistering evisceration of celebrity culture and literary fame, a roguish loser sets out to write the best-sellingest best seller of all time. When he actually pulls it off, he winds up tearing like a tornado across America's cultural landscape.What Pete Tarslaw wants is simple enough:FAME-Realistic amount. Enough to open new avenues of sexual opportunity. Personal assistant to read mail, grocery shop, etc.FINANCIAL COMFORT-Never have a job again. Retire. Spend rest of life lying around, pursuing hobbies (boating? skeet shooting?)STATELY HOME BY THE OCEAN (OR SCENIC LAKE)-Spacious library, bay windows, wet bar. HD TV, discreetly placed. Comfortable couch.HUMILIATE EX-GIRLFRIEND AT HER WEDDINGThis is the story of how he succeeds in getting it all, and what it costs him in the end.Narrated by an unlikely literary legend, How I Became a Famous Novelist pinballs from the postcollege slums of Boston to the fear-drenched halls of Manhattan's publishing houses, from the gloomy purity of Montana's foremost writing workshop to the hedonistic hotel bars of the Sunset Strip. This is the horrifying, hilarious tale of how Pete Tarslaw's "pile of garbage," called The Tornado Ashes Club, became the most talked about, blogged about, read, admired, and reviled novel in America. It will change everything you think you know-about literature, appearance, truth, beauty, and those people who still care about books.It is the winner of the 2010 Thurber Prize for American Humor.
Pictures of Lily
By Matthew Yorke
"I am going to find my parents... if I don't track them down I'll be one of the unlucky ones."So writes seventeen-year-old Lily Myers, for whom, adopted at birth, there are so many unanswered questions. Who are her biological parents? Does she have brothers and sisters? Where else might she have lived had if she not been given away? Most pressing is the simplest question of all: "Why was I given up?"In Lily's case there is refuge in melody. It's in the dub venues of the north of England, in the fizzing bass lines, the buzz of static. Here is the volume to quell the doubts, the fears, even the truth. Yet these melodies have the power to suggest possibilities of their own - not least when coupled with Ayahuasca, a visionary plant used by Amazonian shamans as a vehicle to commune with the spirit world, a world where there can be no secrets.Hitherto Lily's quest has been confined to this psychic plane, transcending space and time to communicate with spirits so real they are real, gathering from them clues about her past, her people. It has been at perilous cost to her mental health. Now, at eighteen, her birth certificate and adoption file are hers for the taking. But will the journey end there? Indeed can she ever come to understand the true significance of 'finding my parents'?Praise for Matthew Yorke's previous novel The March Fence:This is a novel which throbs with life and wonder at the manifold varieties of experience... The talent for writing novels may be hard to define, yet it is unmistakable when encountered... is the real thing... the best first novel that I have read in a long time. Alan Massie.A most impresseive debut. Elaine Feinstein, The Times.Distinctive, energetic...the narrative takes a real grip. Hilary Mantel. Daily Telegraph.