All posts tagged: literary fiction

Naima Coster is back with a bold and moving tale of legacy, family, displacement, and rootedness in WHAT’S MINE AND YOURS, plus tips on writing character, developing setting, more

By Leslie Lindsay  Extraordinary tale of gentrification, equality, race, and legacy that begs the question: what are you leaving behind? ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Spotlight on family legacy, race, history Several years ago, I read and loved Naima Coster’s debut, HALSEY STREET, and fell in love with her voice and writing. Her sophomore book is so daring, so beautifully told, but also bold and passionate, exploring comforting companionship, siblings, home, parent and child, and so much more. Set in the foothills of North Carolina, WHAT’S MINE AND YOURS (Grand Central, March 2 2021) is beautifully written, in elegant and moving prose, but also rife with deep, perceptive description from a poet’s heart. There’s the “Black side” of town and the “White side,” school integration, and the resistance of residents. For Gee and Noelle, this integration sets off a chain reaction bonding the two together for at least the next twenty years. Families are split–in their desire to integrate, how they see it benefitting each family and race/culture. But there’s also mixed-race Latina individuals …

Ladee Hubbard on her new novel, THE RIB KING, how it is a historical novel haunted by the present, racial violence, cultural stereotypes; plus, developing strong characters with compelling backstory

By Leslie Lindsay  Bold, original frame story of a class, race, revenge, set in 1914 at a white home with black servants, THE RIB KING is truly a unique read not quite like any other. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Spotlight: Women Writers of Color GLOWING PRAISE for THE RIB KING: Book Riot – Our Most Anticipated Releases of 2021| Real Simple – The Best New Books to Read in 2021|Chicago Review of Books – 12 Must-Read Books of January | Book Riot – January 2021 Horoscopes and Book Recommendations |Glamour–7 of the Best New Books in January | Vulture – 46 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021 |Lit Hub – Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2021|GMA.com – 16 January reads for the new year |Harper’s Bazaar – 24 Books You Need to Read in 2021|The Millions – Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2021 Book Preview | Popsugar – From Bravery to Outlawed – These Are the Best Books of January 2021|Ms. Magazine – January 2021 Reads for the Rest of …

lyrical and hauntinly sublime literary fiction from yaa gyasi about race in america, but also about depression, anxiety, addiction, spirtuality & science in transcendent kingdom

By Leslie Lindsay  One woman’s reckoning with her family of origin, its dysfunctional aspects, a suicidal mother, a tragic event with a brother, science, and so much more.   ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ FEBRUARY SPOTLIGHT: WOMEN WRITERS OF COLOR A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK! INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER I had a feeling I would like TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM (Knopf, September 2020), I had no idea how much I would *LOVE* TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM. Yaa Gyasi is animmensely talented writer who tells a dark story with such luminous grace and compassion. Quick take: Gifty is a sixth-year neuroscience PhD candidate at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She’s studying the reward-seeking behavior of mice and the neural circuits in depression and anxiety and addiction, and with good reason. As often the case, many scientists study what they study because they have somehow been touched by the issues personally. In Gifty’s case, it’s her family members who have. Gifty’s brother, Nana, was a talented athlete with much promise, but before all of that, the family immigrated from Ghana to Alabama(and …

Edgy & LUMINOUS, a twisted tale of love, friendship, art, & so much more in this hot debut–luster–by Raven Leliani

By Leslie Lindsay  Luminous and edgy, LUSTER is a raw examination of friendship, sex, intimacy, art, and more. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ February Spotlight: Women Writers of Color A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEARA BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, O Magazine, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, Shondaland, The New York Times Book Review, Boston Globe, Buzzfeed, Kirkus, Time, Good Housekeeping, InStyle, The Guardian, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Self, The New York Public Library, Town & Country, Wired, Boston.com, Happy Mag, New Statesman, Vox, Shelf Awareness, Chatelaine, The Undefeated, Apartment Therapy, Brooklyn Based, The End of the World Review, Exile in Bookville, Lit Reactor, BookPage, i-DA FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, Barack ObamaA BEST BOOK FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS: AV Club, Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine/The Strategist, The Rumpus WINNER of the Kirkus Prize and the Center for Fiction First Novel PrizeAN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERNATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER * LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER * WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER I’ll admit to *not* wanting to read LUSTER (FSG, September 2020) because, well…it was on so many lists and so frequently talked about in literary circles. But then I wrote to the biblioracle at the Chicago Tribune, where I offered the last five books I’d read …

Debut author Julie Carrick dalton talks about WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG, the environment, how THE TRUTH WILL ALWAYS RISE–even the parts we don’t want to remember, the magic of childhood, her spry late grandmother

By Leslie Lindsay  Sweeping novel of epic portions about friendship, the environment, migrant workers, and secrets. ~WEEKEND READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS Cadie Kessler has spent years–decades–keeping secrets. A moment, really, from her past. That’s what I think the title, WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG (Forge, January 12 2021) seems to convey in this coming-of-age story set in New England about a two estranged adult friends, ‘that summer,’ and the truth they tried to keep hidden.Daniela Garcia calls her friend, Cadie Kessler– now a forestry researcher/entomologist in an urgent plea to return home.Told in an alternating style, between the ‘now’ and ‘that summer,’ we get a sense of the friendship forged between Cadie and Daniela, the secret, and those nostalgic summer days, a warm balm in the middle of winter. The language is lush and thoughtful, with many details of the natural world: blueberries on the vine, creeks, books and boats and piers, too. WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG is a complex tale of friendship, ecology, hidden truths, climate change, racism, immigration, and so much more. WAITING FOR NIGHT SONG …

WHAT IF YOU WERE DRIVEN BY REVENGE but also trauma? ANDROMEDA ROMANO-lax talks about this, the early days of psychoanalysis, & so much more in a genre-bending new book, ANNIE AND THE WOLVES

By Leslie Lindsay A modern-day historian finds herself enmeshed with the life of Annie Oakley, in a dual-timeline novel exploring the concept of revenge and changing one’s past/path. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ “2020 Best & Most Anticipated Historical Fiction” Oprah Magazine “Most Anticipated Books of 2021” by Buzzfeed  Several years ago, I read and loved Andromeda Romano-Lax’s BEHAVE, about Behaviorist John Watson and his wife, Rosalie Raynor Watson, their inhumane ‘experiments’ on children and parenting, done in what they believed was what was ‘best’ for the children (withholding affection, etc.). When I discovered her forthcoming ANNIE AND THE WOLVES (Soho Press, Feb 2, 2021), I knew I had to get my hands on it. Ruth McClintock is a historian in her early thirties and completely obsessed with Annie Oakley. For nearly a decade, she has been studying the show-stopping sharpshooter, convinced a tragic past is what elevated her status as one of the best shots in the land. But Ruth sort of loses it all–her book deal, her finance, her dissertation because her own mental health gets in …

MEREDITH HALL talks about her luminescent novel, BENEFICIENCE, about one Maine FARM family’s experience with a terrible loss, the way we absorb grief, and the subconscious way of art + thinking about characters long after

By Leslie Lindsay  ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS  A deep, ravishing, quiet tale of a family upended by grief, a timely and topical exploration of what it means to be a family, and yet divided. Years ago, I read and loved Meredith Hall’s sweeping memoir, WITHOUT A MAP, and knew I had to get my hands on her first fiction, which is every bit as luminous and perceptive. When they met in the 1930s, Doris and Tup’s love was deep and visceral and immediate. Doris leaves behind her mercantile-minded family, where a life running her father’s shop was in the works, for Tup’s family farm, where his parents and grandparents and great-grandparents worked the land and are buried underneath the pines on farm cemetery. Their lives follow the calming–predictable–cycles of the seasons, the land. Cows are milked, calves are birthed, hay is rolled. There’s the garden and the canning, the laundry, the children–all three of them. Each day, they are grateful. But then the unthinkable happens. Faith is shattered. Grief permeates the walls, …

Amy ShEARN talks about her sublime new book, UNSEEN CITY, BROOKLYN, how she believes in ghosts, old houses, books she was influenced by and asks me a question, too

By Leslie Lindsay  A multigenerational tapestry of homes, neighborhoods, ghosts, and more in this bold and atmospheric novel. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ When I heard UNSEEN CITY by Amy Shearn (Red Hen Press, September 2020), I knew I had to get my hands on it. It’s a bit of a love letter to NYC (Brooklyn, in particular), but also to those childhood books that shaped us as readers (and writers!) and also about a little-known neighborhood called Weeksville. But it’s also about love and grief and ghosts and oh gosh…it’s just so good. Meg Rhys is a self-identified spinster librarian. She lives alone–with her beloved cat–in a rent-controlled Brooklyn apartment. On Friday evenings, she grabs her pile of holds from the library and bikes home, staying in most of the weekend, because that’s how she likes it. But she’s mourning the loss of her dead sister, who died tragically in an accident. She soon becomes obsessed with a library patron who is researching a possibly haunted house. His house. Rather, his parents. That house has it’s own story to …

Jenny OfFILL’s WEATHER IS SEARINGLY BRIGHT, yet gloomy, and might resonate with the current climate, plus a writing prompt

By Leslie Lindsay  Strange, but insightful little book told in fragmented realities, almost like a memoir, but let’s call it experimental literary fiction. ~WEDNESDAY WRITING & READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER  From the beloved author of the nationwide best seller Dept. of Speculation—one of the New York Times Book Review‘s Ten Best Books of the Year—a “darkly funny and urgent” (NPR) tour de force about a family, and a nation, in crisis WEATHER is my first Jenny Offill book, but it probably won’t be my last. In fact, I have her national bestseller DEPT. OF SPECULATION on my TBR pile. WEATHER (Knopf, February 2020) is such a book for our times. I mean, I read this and thought there was a precision to Offill’s words and perception.Obviously the book was written long before this ominous year of 2020, but the insights are searingly sharp and bright. “Brilliant… Offill’s writing is brisk and comic, and her book’s format underlines her gifts. “Weather” is her most soulful book…  [Her] humor is saving humor; it’s as if she’s splashing vinegar …

INSTANT NYT BESTSELLING AUTHOR christina baker kline talks about her ravishing new historical fiction, THE EXILES, women convicts, mothers, writing, TREES & asks me a question, too

By Leslie Lindsay  A powerful, emotionally resonant novel that captures the hardship, oppression, opportunity and hope of four women’s lives—three English convicts and an orphaned Aboriginal girl—in nineteenth-century Australia. ~ALWAYS WITH A BOOK|WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS~ HISTORICAL FICTION SPOTLIGHT Gorgeous, sweeping historical novel about women convicts seeking refuge and freedom set in the nineteenth century England and Australia. AUTHOR OF THE PHENOMENAL #1 NYT BESTSELLER ORPHAN TRAIN Instant New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Indie Next bestseller SEPTEMBER 2020 “20 Great Reads” List, Indie Next THE BEST BOOKS OF 2020, REAL SIMPLE Optioned for television by Bruna Papandrea/Made Up Stories (“Big Little Lies”) …and more… I fell in love with THE ORPHAN TRAIN and felt the anxiety and inner turmoil in A PIECE OF THE WORLD, and when THE EXILES was published (WilliamMorrow/CustomHouse, August 25 2020), I dove head-first into the lucid prose. THE EXILES absolutely swept me away.  Kline takes a trio of young women and makes them so whole, so flawed, so authentic, it feels like they are right there with you, …