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The Lemon

Set in the intersecting worlds of fine dining, Hollywood, and the media, a darkly hilarious and ultimately devastating satire about the underside of success and fame, and our ongoing complicity in devouring our cultural heroes

While filming on location in Belfast, Northern Ireland, John Doe, the universally adored host of the culinary travel show Last Call, is found dead in a hotel room in an apparent suicide. As the news of his untimely demise breaks, a group of friends, fixers, hustlers, and opportunists vie to seize control of the narrative: Doe’s chess-master of an agent Nia, ready to call in every favor she is owed to preserve his legacy; down-on-her-luck journalist Katie, who fabricates a story about Doe to save her job at a failing website; and world-famous chef Paolo Cabrini, Doe’s closest friend and confidant, who finds himself entangled with a deranged Belfast hotel worker whose lurid secret might just take them all down.

With raucous, deliciously cutting prose, crackling dialogue, and an unpredictable, tightly plotted story line—bolstered by the authors’ insider knowledge of high-end restaurants and low-end digital media—The Lemon is a darkly hilarious and ultimately devastating interrogation of the underside of success and fame, and our ongoing complicity in devouring the cultural heroes we hardly deserve.

If I Survive You

Masterfully constructed with heart and humor, the linked stories in Jonathan Escoffery’s If I Survive You center on Trelawny as he struggles to carve out a place for himself amid financial disaster, racism, and flat-out bad luck. After a fight with Topper—himself reckoning with his failures as a parent and his longing for Jamaica—Trelawny claws his way out of homelessness through a series of odd, often hilarious jobs. Meanwhile, his brother, Delano, attempts a disastrous cash grab to get his kids back, and his cousin, Cukie, looks for a father who doesn’t want to be found. As each character searches for a foothold, they never forget the profound danger of climbing without a safety net. Pulsing with vibrant lyricism and inimitable style, sly commentary and contagious laughter, Escoffery’s debut unravels what it means to be in between homes and cultures in a world at the mercy of capitalism and white supremacy. With If I Survive You, Escoffery announces himself as a prodigious storyteller in a class of his own, a chronicler of American life at its most gruesome and hopeful.

The Old Place

A bighearted and moving debut about a wry retired schoolteacher whose decade-old secret threatens to come to light and send shockwaves through her small Texas town.

Billington, Texas, is a place where nothing changes. Well, almost nothing. For the first time in nearly four decades, Mary Alice Roth is not getting ready for the first day of school at Billington High. A few months into her retirement—or, district mandated exile as she calls it—Mary Alice does not know how to fill her days. The annual picnic is coming up, but that isn’t nearly enough since the menu never changes and she had the roles mentally assigned weeks ago. At least there’s Ellie, who stops by each morning for coffee and whose reemergence in Mary Alice’s life is the one thing soothing the sting of retirement.

Mary Alice and Ellie were a pair since the day Ellie moved in next door. That they both were single mothers—Mary Alice widowed, Ellie divorced—with sons the same age was a pleasant coincidence, but they were forever linked when they lost the boys, one right after the other. Years later, the two are working their way back to a comfortable friendship. But when Mary Alice’s sister arrives on her doorstep with a staggering piece of news, it jeopardizes the careful shell she’s built around her life. The whole of her friendship with Ellie is put at risk, the fabric of a place as steadfast as Billington is questioned, and the unflappable, knotty fixture that is Mary Alice Roth might have to change after all.

Welcome to the Game

From BBC presenter Craig Henderson comes a brilliant and gripping debut thriller that races through the Motor City at a heart-stopping pace. Perfect for fans of Drive and Blacktop Wasteland, Welcome to the Game follows ex-rally driver Spencer Burnham as he tries to balance his young daughter, drug addiction, and the needs of charismatic gangster Dominic McGrath. As the temperature in the city rises and Child Protective Services circle in closer, Spencer must apply his considerable talents to finally best McGrath and swerve to avoid danger at every turn.

The Fortunes of Jaded Women

For fans of Jonathan Tropper, KJ Dell’Antonia, and Kevin Kwan, this “sharp, smart, and gloriously extra” (Nancy Jooyoun Kim, The Last Story of Mina Lee) debut follows a family of estranged Vietnamese women—cursed to never know love or happiness—as they reunite when a psychic makes a startling prediction. Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew that the Duong sisters were cursed. It started with their ancestor, Oanh, who dared to leave her marriage for true love—so a fearsome Vietnamese witch cursed Oanh and her descendants so that they would never find love or happiness, and the Duong women would give birth to daughters, never sons. Oanh’s current descendant Mai Nguyen knows this curse well. She’s divorced, and after an explosive disagreement a decade ago, she’s estranged from her younger sisters, Minh Pham (the middle and the mediator) and Khuyen Lam (the youngest who swears she just runs humble coffee shops and nail salons, not Little Saigon’s underground). Though Mai’s three adult daughters, Priscilla, Thuy, and Thao, are successful in their careers (one of them is John Cho’s dermatologist!), the same can’t be said for their love lives. Mai is convinced they might drive her to an early grave. Desperate for guidance, she consults Auntie Hua, her trusted psychic in Hawaii, who delivers an unexpected prediction: this year, her family will witness a marriage, a funeral, and the birth of a son. This prophecy will reunite estranged mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins—for better or for worse. A multi-narrative novel brimming with levity and candor, The Fortunes of Jaded Women is about mourning, meddling, celebrating, and healing together as a family. It shows how Vietnamese women emerge victorious, even if the world is against them.

Bad Fruit

For fans of My Dark Vanessa and Celeste Ng, Bad Fruit is an unforgettable portrayal of a toxic mother-daughter relationship and a young woman’s search for truth and liberation.

Just graduated from high school and waiting to start college at Oxford, Lily lives under the scrutiny of her volatile Singaporean mother, May, and is unable to find kinship with her elusive British father, Charlie. When May suspects that Charlie is having an affair, there’s only one thing that calms May down: a glass of perfectly spoiled orange juice served by Lily, who must always taste it first to make sure it’s just right.

As her mother becomes increasingly unhinged, Lily starts to have flashbacks that she knows aren’t her own. Over a sweltering London summer, all semblance of civility and propriety is lost, as Lily begins to unravel the harrowing history that has always cast a shadow on her mother. The horrifying secrets she uncovers will shake her family to its core, culminating in a shattering revelation that will finally set Lily free.

Beautiful and shocking, Bad Fruit is as compulsive as it is thought-provoking, as nuanced as it is explosive. A masterful exploration of mothers and daughters, inherited trauma and the race to break its devastating cycle, Bad Fruit will leave readers breathlessly questioning their own notions of femininity, race and redemption.

Compass

We can’t all be heroes. Some try and succeed. Others posture and pretend. And a few—just a few—set off on their hero’s quest only to discover that failure was within them all along.

Compass recounts the adventures of a man who, after traveling the world shilling stories for a major geographic magazine about historic expeditions and explorers, sets out on an adventure of his own—an ill-advised and poorly planned trip to the Arctic floe edge under the disorienting twenty-four-hour summer sun. When the ice breaks and his guide disappears, the narrator ends up alone and adrift in the hostile northern sea. He draws on his knowledge of historic expeditions to craft his own, inept, attempt at survival. As time passes and he becomes increasingly disoriented, his obsession with Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea, becomes terrifyingly real.

Moonrise Over New Jessup

Winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, this thought-provoking and enchanting debut follows the story of a young Black woman doing whatever it takes to protect her family and her community as she and her husband push for change at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. After leaving the only home she has ever known in 1957, Alice Young steps off the bus into all-Black New Jessup, Alabama, where residents have largely rejected integration as the means for Black social advancement. In this place, Alice falls in love with Raymond Campbell, whose clandestine organizing activity challenges New Jessup’s longstanding status quo and could lead to the young couple’s expulsion—or worse—from the home they both hold dear. But as Raymond continues to push alternatives for enhancing the New Jessup’s political power, Alice must find a way to balance her undying support for his underground work with her desire to protect New Jessup from the rising pressure of upheaval from inside, and outside, their side of town.

Someday, Maybe

A stunning and witty debut novel about a young woman’s emotional journey through unimaginable loss, pulled along by her tight-knit Nigerian family, a posse of new friends, and the love and laughter she shared with her husband. Onyi Nwabineli is a fresh new voice for fans of Yaa Gyasi, Queenie and I May Destroy You.

City Under One Roof

A stranded detective tries to solve a murder in a tiny Alaskan town where everyone winters in the same high-rise building, in this gripping debut by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Iris Yamashita.