The Portable Veblen
Author: Elizabeth Mckenzie
Longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction Finalist for the Baileys Prize for Women's Fiction An exuberant, one-of-a-kind novel about love and family, war and nature, new money and old values by a brilliant New Yorker contributor The Portable Veblen is a dazzlingly original novel that’s as big-hearted as it is laugh-out-loud funny. Set in and around Palo Alto, amid the culture clash of new money and old (antiestablishment) values, and with the specter of our current wars looming across its pages, The Portable Veblen is an unforgettable look at the way we live now. A young couple on the brink of marriage—the charming Veblen and her fiancé Paul, a brilliant neurologist—find their engagement in danger of collapse. Along the way they weather everything from each other’s dysfunctional families, to the attentions of a seductive pharmaceutical heiress, to an intimate tête-à-tête with a very charismatic squirrel. Veblen (named after the iconoclastic economist Thorstein Veblen, who coined the term “conspicuous consumption”) is one of the most refreshing heroines in recent fiction. Not quite liberated from the burdens of her hypochondriac, narcissistic mother and her institutionalized father, Veblen is an amateur translator and “freelance self”; in other words, she’s adrift. Meanwhile, Paul—the product of good hippies who were bad parents—finds his ambition soaring. His medical research has led to the development of a device to help minimize battlefield brain trauma—an invention that gets him swept up in a high-stakes deal with the Department of Defense, a Bizarro World that McKenzie satirizes with granular specificity. As Paul is swept up by the promise of fame and fortune, Veblen heroically keeps the peace between all the damaged parties involved in their upcoming wedding, until she finds herself falling for someone—or something—else. Throughout, Elizabeth McKenzie asks: Where do our families end and we begin? How do we stay true to our ideals? And what is that squirrel really thinking? Replete with deadpan photos and sly appendices, The Portable Veblen is at once an honest inquiry into what we look for in love and an electrifying reading experience. From the Hardcover edition.
In the Republic of Georgia, the Communists are long gone, replaced by something much more confusing, that's for sure. There are no jobs in the cities. And when there are jobs, employees aren't compensated. And when they are compensated, it's because the jobs are not strictly scrupulous. When Slims discovers an application for an American small business internship programme sponsored by Hillary Clinton, he knows that he has found his calling. Slims' dreams of bringing opportunity and the American dream to his homeland, even as his friends and relatives embrace decadence and a staggering array of unsavoury business practices. But when he finally gets to America he sees what reform and progress look like up close. And suddenly, his loud, bickering family and his anguished, joyful country no longer seem so grim.
How to Be Human
Author: Paula Cocozza
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
From Guardian writer Paula Cocozza, a debut novel of the breakdown of a marriage, suburbian claustrophobia, and a woman's unseemly passion for a fox One summer’s night, Mary comes home from a midnight ramble to find a baby lying on her back door step. Has Mary stolen the baby from next door? Has the baby’s mother, Mary's neighbor, left her there in her acute state of post-natal depression? Or was the baby brought to Mary as a gift by the fox who is increasingly coming to dominate her life? So opens How to Be Human, a novel set in a London suburb beset by urban foxes. On leave from work, unsettled by the proximity of her ex, and struggling with her hostile neighbors, Mary has become increasingly captivated by a magnificent fox who is always in her garden. First she sees him wink at her, then he brings her presents, and finally she invites him into her house. As the boundaries between the domestic and the wild blur, and the neighbors set out to exterminate the fox, it is unclear if Mary will save the fox, or the fox save Mary. In this masterful debut, Paula Cocozza weaves together a penetrating portrait of marital breakdown, a social novel of wit and nuance, and an obsessive love story that crosses new boundaries.
The highly acclaimed author of Stop That Girl delivers a masterfully plotted debut novel–at once a mystery of identity, sly literary satire, and coming-of age story–capturing a young man’s impossible and heroic first love. Twenty-two-year-old MacGregor West, orphaned as a boy, is on a quest: to understand the circumstances of his mother’s untimely death. On a foggy San Francisco evening, guided by an old stack of envelopes, Mac finds himself at the mansion of cultural icon Charles Ware, where he encounters the writer’s beautiful and enigmatic daughter, Carolyn, trapped in a fold-up bed. Upon freeing her, Mac plunges headlong into the world of the eccentric Ware family and a love affair with a woman whose murky history may be closely linked to his own. MacGregor Tells the World is a poignant and often hilarious ride through present-day San Francisco, a city brimming with memorable characters who help Mac discover just what story is his to tell. Praise for Elizabeth McKenzie’s Stop That Girl “Elizabeth McKenzie is an accomplished humorist and a developed stylist, and she wastes no time dazzling the reader with her clean direct language, her simple but searing use of metaphor and her unflinching eye.” –The New York Times Book Review “Single-handedly reinvigorate[s] the coming-of-age genre. . . . Here is a writer to watch, and a book to breeze through with glee.” –San Francisco Chronicle From the Trade Paperback edition.
If You Are There
Author: Susan Sherman
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Set in the early 1900s, the novel follows young Lucia Rutkowski who, thanks to the influence of her beloved grandmother, escapes the Warsaw ghetto to work as a kitchen maid in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the bustling city of Paris. Too talented for her lowly position, Lucia is thrown out on the street. Her only recourse is to take a job working for two disorganized, rather poor married scientists so distracted by their work that their house and young child are often neglected. Lucia soon bonds with her eccentric employers, watching as their work with radioactive materials grows increasing noticed by the world, then rising to fame as the great Marie and Pierre Curie. Soon, all of Paris is alit with the news of an impending visit from Eusapia Palladino, the world’s most famous medium. It is through her now famous employers that Lucia attends Eusapia’s gatherings and eventually falls under the medium’s spell, leaving the Curie household to travel with her to Italy. Ultimately, Lucia is placed directly in the crosshairs of faith versus science –what is more real, the glowing substances of the Curie laboratory or the glowing visions that surround the medium during her séance?
Everyone is Watching
Author: Megan Bradbury
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
'Beautiful, kaleidoscopic . . . everyone should be watching Megan Bradbury from now on' Eimear McBride, Baileys Prize-winning author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing New York: A city that inspires. A city that draws people in. A city where everyone is watching, waiting to see what will happen next. 1967. Robert Mapplethorpe knows he is an artist. From his childhood home in Queens he yearns for the heat and excitement of the city, the press of other people's bodies. He wants to be watched, he wants to be known. 1891. Walt Whitman has already found fame, and has settled into his own sort of old age. Still childlike, still passionate, he travels with his friend and biographer Bucke to the city he has always adored, the scene of his greatest triumphs and rejections. 1922. Robert Moses is a man with a vision. Standing on the edge of Long Island he knows what it could become. Walking down a street in Brooklyn he sees its future. He is the man who will build modern New York. 2013. Edmund White is back in New York. It's the city of his youth, of his life and loves. He remembers days of lazy pleasure, nights of ecstasy and euphoria. But years have gone by since then. Everyone is Watching is a novel about the men and women who have defined New York. Through the lives and perspectives of these great creators, artists and thinkers, and through other iconic works of art that capture its essence, New York itself solidifies. Complex, rich, sordid, tantalizing, it is constantly changing and evolving. Both intimate and epic in its sweep, Everyone is Watching is a love letter to New York and its people - past, present and future.
We Never Asked for Wings
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Publisher: Ballantine Books
From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds. For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, fifteen, and Luna, just six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life. Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future. Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family. Praise for We Never Asked for Wings “Deftly blends family conflict with reassurance: Wings is like Parenthood with class and immigration issues added for gravitas.”—People (Book of the Week) “This poignant story will stay in readers’ hearts long after the last page. . . . Diffenbaugh weaves in the plight of undocumented immigrants to her tale of first- and second-generation Americans struggling to make their way in America. Moving without being maudlin, this story avoids the stereotypes in its stark portrayal of mothers who just want the best for their children.”—RT Book Reviews (Top Pick) “Diffenbaugh is a storyteller of the highest order: her simple but poetic prose makes even this most classically American story sing with a special kind of vulnerable beauty.”—Bustle “[A] gripping, heartfelt exploration of a mother’s love, resilience and redemption.”—Family Circle “Satisfying storytelling . . . Diffenbaugh delivers a heartwarming journey that mixes redemption and optimistic insight [and] confirms her gift for creating shrewd, sympathetic charmers.”—Kirkus Reviews “I was hooked from the first breathtaking pages of We Never Asked for Wings, caring about this exquisitely vulnerable family, hoping right along with them on every page that each heart-rending, impossible choice would lead them somewhere better together.”—Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice “Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s We Never Asked for Wings propels us into a mother’s heart as she and her family travel down a rocky path to understanding and forgiveness. With breathtaking imagery and lyrical prose, Diffenbaugh makes Letty’s growth from a troubled young mother to a responsible woman who learns to put her children first, but also allows herself the possibility of love, entirely believable. Hers is a hard-won victory you will cheer even as you wish this graceful, moving book would never end.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife From the Hardcover edition.
The Lake of Dreams
Author: Kim Edwards
From Kim Edwards, the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter, an arresting novel of one family's secret history Imbued with all the lyricism, compassion, and suspense of her bestselling novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards’s The Lake of Dreams is a powerful family drama and an unforgettable story of love lost and found. Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life, still haunted by her father's unresolved death a decade earlier. She returns to her hometown in Upstate New York, The Lake of Dreams, and, late one night, she cracks the lock of a window seat and discovers a collection of objects. They appear to be idle curiosities, but soon Lucy realizes that she has stumbled across a dark secret from her family's past, one that will radically change her—and the future of her family—forever. The Lake of Dreams will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, as well as fans of Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller.
Writing with the telegraphic swiftness and microscopic sensitivity that have made her one of our most distinguished journalists, Joan Didion creates a shimmering novel of innocence and evil.A Book of Common Prayer is the story of two American women in the derelict Central American nation of Boca Grande. Grace Strasser-Mendana controls much of the country's wealth and knows virtually all of its secrets; Charlotte Douglas knows far too little. "Immaculate of history, innocent of politics," she has come to Boca Grande vaguely and vainly hoping to be reunited with her fugitive daughter. As imagined by Didion, her fate is at once utterly particular and fearfully emblematic of an age of conscienceless authority and unfathomable violence. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author: Guido Morselli
Publisher: New York Review of Books
"A unique political coming of age story, now in English for the first time. An NYRB Classics Original. The Communist is the story of a life lived in the service of a faith and what happens when that faith is lost. Walter Ferranini, a child of Italy's agricultural heartland, begins as an earnest autodidact who works as a labor organizer before being driven, under Mussolini, into exile in the United States, the belly of the capitalist beast. After World War II, he returns to Italy and enters parliament as a communist MP. Then Khrushchev's 1956 denunciation of Stalin's crimes leads to a crisis in Walter's life. He has come to question that most basic communist belief, that human life finds its fulfillment in labor, and he writes an article expressing his doubts. It is a scandal, as, in the eyes of the prudish party elders, is his new relationship with Nuccia, a journalist who is a married woman. Under these circumstances, Walter is invited for the first time to visit the Soviet Union, and there he finds himself bewildered beyond words. In The Communist, Guido Morselli portrays a man of conviction cast adrift with deep and compelling sympathy"--
‘Extremely funny – a satirical masterpiece that is tender and existentially-minded as well. I loved it!’ Elizabeth McKenzie, author of THE PORTABLE VEBLEN ‘Very smart and juicy and weird and entertaining ... it reads like a chick lit plot written by Franzen’ Curtis Sittenfeld
The Comet Seekers
Author: Helen Sedgwick
A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic, that intertwines the past, present, and future of two lovers bound by the passing of great comets overhead and a coterie of remarkable ancestors. Róisín and François are immediately drawn to each other when they meet at a remote research base on the frozen ice sheets of Antarctica. At first glance, the pair could not be more different. Older by a few years, Róisín, a daughter of Ireland and a peripatetic astronomer, joins the science team to observe the fracturing of a comet overhead. François, the base’s chef, has just left his birthplace in Bayeux, France, for only the second time in his life. Yet devastating tragedy and the longing for a fresh start, which they share, as well as an indelible but unknown bond that stretches back centuries, connect them to each other. Helen Sedgwick carefully unfolds their surprisingly intertwined paths, moving forward and back through time to reveal how these lovers’ destinies have long been tied to each other by the skies—the arrival of comets great and small. In telling Róisín and François’s story, Sedgwick illuminates the lives of their ancestors, showing how strangers can be connected and ghosts can be real, and how the way we choose to see the world can be as desolate or as beautiful as the comets themselves. A mesmerizing, skillfully crafted, and emotionally perceptive novel that explores the choices we make, the connections we miss, and the ties that inextricably join our fates, The Comet Seekers reflects how the shifting cosmos unite us all through life, beyond death, and across the whole of time.
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown
From the author of the worldwide bestseller Room: "Her greatest achievement yet...Emma Donoghue shows more than range with FROG MUSIC--she shows genius." -- Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts. In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.
Woke Up Lonely
Author: Fiona Maazel
Publisher: Graywolf Press
The dizzying new novel by Fiona Maazel, a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" * A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year * A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice * A Kansas City Star, VICE, and Largehearted Boy Best Book of the Year * One of Book Riot's "Seven Funniest Novels of 2013" * * One of the Millions's Most Anticipated Books of 2013 * An April IndieNext Pick* Thurlow Dan is the founder of the Helix, a cult that promises to cure loneliness in the twenty-first century. With its communes and speed-dating, mixers and confession sessions, the Helix has become a national phenomenon—and attracted the attention of governments worldwide. But Thurlow, camped out in his Cincinnati headquarters, is lonely—for his ex-wife, Esme, and their daughter, whom he hasn't seen in ten years. Esme, for her part, is a covert agent who has spent her life spying on Thurlow, mostly to protect him from the law. Now, with her superiors demanding results, she recruits four misfits to botch a reconnaissance mission in Cincinnati. But when Thurlow takes them hostage, he ignites a siege of the Helix House that will change all their lives forever. With fiery, exuberant prose, Fiona Maazel takes us on a wild ride through North Korea's guarded interior and a city of vice beneath Cincinnati, a ride that twists and turns as it delves into an unsettled, off-kilter America. Woke Up Lonely is an original and deeply funny novel that explores our very human impulse to seek and repel intimacy with the people who matter to us most.