Fabienne is dead. Her childhood best friend, Agnes, receives the news in America, far from the French countryside where the two girls were raised—the place that Fabienne helped Agnes escape ten years ago. Now, Agnes is free to tell her story.
As children in a war-ravaged, backwater town, they’d built a private world, invisible to everyone but themselves—until Fabienne hatched the plan that would change everything, launching Agnes on an epic trajectory through fame, fortune, and terrible loss.
Ling Ma brings us eight wildly different tales of people making their way through the madness and reality of our collective delusions: love and loneliness, connection and possession, friendship, motherhood, the idea of home. From a woman who lives in a house with all of her ex-boyfriends, to a toxic friendship built around a drug that makes you invisible, to an ancient ritual that might heal you of anything if you bury yourself alive, these and other scenarios reveal that the outlandish and the everyday are shockingly, deceptively, heartbreakingly similar.
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.
In Strangers to Ourselves, a powerful and gripping debut, Rachel Aviv raises fundamental questions about how we understand ourselves in periods of crisis and distress. Drawing on deep, original reporting as well as unpublished journals and memoirs, Aviv writes about people who have come up against the limits of psychiatric explanations for who they are. She follows an Indian woman, celebrated as a saint, who lives in healing temples in Kerala; an incarcerated mother vying for her children’s forgiveness after recovering from psychosis; a man who devotes his life to seeking revenge upon his psychoanalysts; and an affluent young woman who, after a decade of defining herself through her diagnosis, decides to go off her meds because she doesn’t know who she is without them. Animated by a profound sense of empathy, Aviv’s exploration is refracted through her own account of living in a hospital ward at the age of six and meeting a fellow patient with whom her life runs parallel—until it no longer does.
With a masterful command of storytelling, Ricks deftly narrates the movement’s triumphs and defeats. He follows King and other key figures from Montgomery to Memphis, demonstrating how the philosophy of nonviolence encompassed active and even aggressive methods of confronting the Movement’s adversaries, both on the ground and in the court of public opinion. While bringing legends such as Fannie Lou Hamer and John Lewis into new focus, Ricks also highlights lesser-known figures who played critical roles in fashioning nonviolence into a potent weapon—the activists James Lawson, James Bevel, Diane Nash, and Septima Clark foremost among them. He also offers a new understanding of the Movement’s later difficulties as internal disputes and white backlash intensified. Rich with fresh interpretations of familiar events and overlooked aspects of America’s civil rights struggle, Waging a Good Waris an indispensable addition to the literature of racial justice and social change—and one that offers vital lessons for our own time.
One night in Chinatown: Our heroine, Lola, is at a work reunion dinner with her former colleagues when she ducks out to buy cigarettes and runs into an ex-boyfriend. And then . . . another. And another. The city is suddenly awash with ghosts of heartbreaks past, and what would normally pass for a coincidence becomes something much stranger. The soon-to-be-married Lola must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship but with the fact that both her best friend and her former boss, a magazine editor turned guru, might have an unhealthy, ahem, investment in the outcome. Memories of the past swirl and converge in mystical ways both comic and eerie as Lola is forced to decide if she will buy into romance, and possibly into a weird startup-slash-cult.
Ariel Price wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.
She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband? The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask. Tautly wound and expertly crafted, Two Nights in Lisbon is a riveting thriller about a woman under pressure, and how far she will go when everything is on the line. With sparkling prose and razor-sharp insights, bestselling author Chris Pavone delivers a stunning and sophisticated international thriller that will linger long after the surprising final page.
Marina Salles’s life does not end the day she wakes up dead. Instead, in the course of a moment, she is transformed into the stuff of myth, the stuff of her grandmother’s old Filipino stories—an aswang. She spent her life on the margins, knowing very little about her own life, let alone the lives of others; she was shot like a pinball through a childhood of loss, a veteran of Child Protective Services and a survivor, but always reacting, watching from a distance. Death brings her into the hearts and minds of those she has known—even her killer—as she is able to access their memories and to see anew the meaning of her own. In the course of these pages she traces back through her life, finally able to see what led these lost souls to this crushingly inevitable conclusion.
In A Tiny Upward Shove, Melissa Chadburn charts the heartbreaking journeys of two of society’s cast-offs as they find their way to each other and their roles as criminal and victim. What does it mean to be on the brink? When are those moments that change not only our lives but our very selves? And how, in this impossible world, can we rouse ourselves toward mercy?
Edie is stumbling through her twenties sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She’s also, secretly, haltingly figuring her way into life as an artist. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage—with rules. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and falling into Eric’s family life, his home. She becomes a hesitant friend to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie is the only black woman young Akila may know.
Razor-sharp, darkly comic, sexually charged, socially disruptive, Raven Leilani’s Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make sense of her life in a tumultuous era. It is also a haunting, aching description of how hard it is to believe in your own talent and the unexpected influences that bring us into ourselves along the way.
In a Massachusetts college town, ancient letters inscribe a dilapidated colonial: Delta Zeta Chi. Cross the litter-strewn lawn and follow the sound of virtual gunfire to find a group of friends shooting the breeze. Among them stands Nutella, the Apollonian Chapter president; Oprah, the effeminate reader; Five-Hour, Buckhunter, Pizza Hut, and the girl they call God. The house might appear cramped, but the brothers know that to be inside is everything.
Fraternity celebrates the debauched kinship of boys straddling adolescence and adulthood: the drunken antics, elaborate posturing, and solemn confessions that mark their first years away from home. Beneath each tender episode lies the dread of exclusion. The closeted Oprah’s hero worship gives way to real longing. A navy veteran advises on new initiation strategies, revealing an uneasy kinship between hazing and torture. And the shadow of assault hovers over every sexual encounter.
Voiced by an off-kilter chorus of the young and desperate to belong, Benjamin Nugent’s provocative collection yanks the fraternity door off its hinges, daring us to peer inside with amusement, horror, and also with love.