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.
A moving and deeply engaging debut novel about a young Native American man finding strength in his familial identity, from a stellar new voice in literary fiction.
Told in a series of voices, Calling for a Blanket Dance takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle through the multigenerational perspectives of his family as they face myriad obstacles: his father’s injury at the hands of corrupt police, his mother’s struggle to hold on to her job and care for her husband, the constant resettlement of the family, and Ever’s own bottled-up rage at the instability all around him. Meanwhile, all of Ever’s relatives have ideas about who he is and who he should be. His Cherokee grandmother urges the family to move across Oklahoma to find security; his grandfather hopes to reunite him with his heritage through traditional gourd dances; his Kiowa cousin reminds him that he’s connected to an ancestral past. And once an adult, Ever must take the strength given to him by his relatives to save not only himself, but also the next generation of his family.
How will this young man visualize a place for himself when the world hasn’t given him a place to start with? Honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, Calling for a Blanket Dance is the story of how Ever Geimausaddle found his way to home.
When Alex and Elana move from small-town Virginia to El Paso, they are just a young married couple, each the other’s best friend, intent on a new beginning. Born in Mexico but adopted by white American Pentecostal parents, Alex is hungry to learn about the place where he was born. He spends every free moment across the border in Juárez—perfecting his Spanish, hanging with a collective of young activists, and studying Mexican professional wrestling, “lucha libre,” for his graduate work in sociology. Though Elana has enrolled at the local university as well, she feels disillusioned by academia and struggles to find her place in their new home. She also has no idea that Alex has fallen in love with Mateo, a lucha libre fighter. When Alex goes missing and Elana can’t determine whether he left of his own accord or was kidnapped, it’s clear that neither of them is able to face who they really are. Spanning their journey from Virginia to Texas to Mexico, Mesha Maren’s thrilling and fiercely intelligent follow-up to Sugar Run takes us from missionaries to wrestling matches to a luxurious cartel compound, and deep into the psychic choices that shape our identities. A sweeping novel that tells us as much about America and Mexico as it does about our own natures and desires, Perpetual West is an utterly engaging look at the false divide between high and low culture, and a suspenseful story of how harrowing events can bring our true selves to the surface.
Shruti Swamy’s debut, A House Is a Body: Stories (Algonquin Books, 2020), was a finalist for both the PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection and the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Now, Swamy brings us an accomplished and immersive coming-of-age novel set in Bombay in the 1960s and 70s. As a child, Vidya exists to serve her family, watch over her younger brother, and make sense of a motherless world. One day she catches sight of a class where the students are learning Kathak, a precise, dazzling form of dance that requires the utmost discipline and focus. Kathak quickly becomes the organizing principle of Vidya’s life, even as she leaves home for college, falls in love with her best friend, and battles demands on her time, her future, and her body. Can Vidya give herself over to her art and also be a wife in Bombay’s carefully delineated society? Can she shed the legacy of her own imperfect, unknowable mother? Must she, herself, also become a mother? Intensely lyrical and deeply sensual, with writing as rhythmically mesmerizing as Kathak itself, The Archer is about the transformative power of art and the possibilities that love can open when we’re ready.
With Libertie, the critically acclaimed and Whiting Award-winning author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman returns with an unforgettable story about the meaning of freedom. Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and hungry for something else. And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her light-skinned mother, Libertie will not be able to pass as white. When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a dark-skinned Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come. Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new novel is a soaring mother-daughter story, perfect for readers of Brit Bennett, Min Jin Lee, and Yaa Gyasi.
At seventeen, David “Lizard” Hochmeyer is nearly seven feet tall, a star quarterback, and Princeton-bound. His future seems all but assured until his parents are mysteriously murdered, leaving Lizard and his older sister, Kate, adrift and alone. Over the months, years, and decades that follow, Lizard and Kate are obsessed with piecing together the motives behind the deaths, returning time and again to their father’s missing briefcase, his shady business dealings and shaky finances, and to a famous ballerina who has threaded her way into Lizard’s and Kate’s lives. A wildly entertaining novel of murder, seduction, and revenge—rich in incident, in expansiveness of character, and in lavishness of setting—it’s a Gatsby-esque adventure, a larger-than-life quest for answers that reveals how sometimes the greatest mystery lies in knowing one’s own heart.