10 Must Read Books of 2015
(To be released by Two Dollar Radio on January 13, 2015)
Binary Star explores the journey an anorexic woman and her long distance alcoholic boyfriend embark on. Though the story is grounded by their cross-country road trip circumnavigating the United States, their journey is far from merely physical as they struggle to find meaning in a society that leaves them sick and wanting more. A book on vegananarchism that they stumble upon seems to hold the key. Stars come into play with Gerard’s astute assertion that “the psychology of stars is the psychology of the body.” As she elaborates in an interview with Two Dollar Radio: “Stars are vulnerable. They react to each other. They’re born and are alive, and their lifespans are determined primarily by their mass, which is an incredibly useful concept for someone writing about an eating disorder. The burning of a dying star became an analog for the cold burn of starvation. Stars burn out and die, or explode from pressure, or “run away,” or “dredge-up” material from their cores. They’re luminous or dim. They orbit each other. They’re drawn to each other. They’re violent, unstable. Hot and cool. How is their language ours? It just is.” A boundary-pushing new voice, Gerard is sure to captivate with her incandescent language and vision.
(To be released on February 10, 2015 by Harper Collins)
Writing with what The Guardian calls “a raw, addictive lyricism,” Sandra Newman takes an avant garde approach to the popular young adult dystopian genre with The Country of Ice Cream Star. In this bleak vision of future America, the average life expectancy is no more than 20 due to a disease known as “posies” and the nation is populated by packs of feral children and the mysterious “roos” who transform the children they capture into sex slaves and child soldiers. Newman’s story and prose are equally inventive with plot devices such as a neo-Catholic cult and booby-trapped Washington and lines such as Ice Cream Star’s description of her tribe: “a tarry sort, we skinny and long. My brother Driver climb a tree with only hands, because our bones so light, our muscles fortey strong. We flee like dragonfly over water, we fight like ten guns, and we be bell to see. Other children go deranged and unpredictable for our love.”
(To be released on April 30, 2015 by Knopf)
And now some particularly exciting news: Nobel laureate and beloved/Beloved (couldn’t resist that pun) author Toni Morrison is coming out with her 11th novel on April 30th! Exploring “the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult,” God Help the Child features Bride, whose “stunning blue-black skin” alienates her from her light-skinned mother Sweetness, Rain (a white child who confides in Bride about the abuse suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother), and Booker (Bride’s lover who is consumed by anger over the childhood murder of his brother).
(To be released on February 10, 2015 by Random House)
Get in Trouble is a collection of nine stories blending relatable realism and surreal fantasy. Familiar scenarios—birthday parties, theme parks, bars—metamorphose into bizarre tales featuring Mann Man, a superhero with the powers of Thomas Mann, pools swamped by Disney mermaids, and a vampire robot boyfriend doll. As Publishers Weekly puts it, Link “mixes humor with existential dread… like Kafka hosting Saturday Night Live.” Demonstrating an uncanny knack for bringing to life the unbelievable and linking it to our most fundamental human experiences, Link is an author you can not afford to miss!
(To be released in June 2015 by Knopf)
If you grew up devouring Judy Blume novels, rejoice because the beloved children/adolescent’s author is coming out with a novel for adults this year! Based on an actual series of plane crashes that happened in her hometown durging her youth, In the Unlikely Event explores how 3 generations deal with the effects of the crash along with a myriad of other issues including, but not limited to, first love, difficult friendships, familial issues, and career ambitions. As with her past work, Blume’s latest novel promises to be psychologically probing and immensely human.
(To be released in March 2015 by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.)
Consisting of 10 short stories set in New Mexico, Kirstin Valdez Quade’s debut collection has been described as an “emotional tour de force.” Quade explores the sinewy depths of the human heart, managing to create fresh stories that explore a common setting, each from a unique lens. Plunging into the depths of family life, coming of age, love, redemption and obsession, Night at the Fiestas is both raw and hopeful.
(To be released on March 17, 2015 by Random House)
The German word hausfrau can be translated as housewife, homemaker, or married woman. Jill Alexander Essbaum’s Hausfrau probes the inner life of Anna Benz, an American expatriate living with her Swiss husband in Zurich. Distanced from both her husband and her own self, Anna Benz tries to find herself by taking German classes, undergoing Jungian analysis, and embarking on a series of affairs. She soon becomes tangled in her affairs and lies and finds herself past the point of moral return. Provocative and intense, Hausfrau urges us to reconsider our notions of love, infidelity, marriage, and self.
(To be released on March 10, 2015 by Doubleday)
This sprawling modern tragedy traces the inner lives of four former college roommates—lawyer Jude, artist JB, architect Malcom, and actor Willem—over the course of three decades as they establish their careers in New York City. Mundane and light on plot at first, A Little Life soon plunges into the recesses of the men’s relationships and psyches, especially Jude, who struggles with a childhood trauma that still haunts him as a successful lawyer. Unique for a woman writer, Hanya Yanagihara employs only men as her primary characters, a bold move that plays out wonderfully in this affecting epic.
(To be published on January 27, 2015 by Viking Adult)
In Rebecca Scherm’s dazzling debut novel, we begin by meeting Julie, an expatriate from California, working in the outskirts of Paris. Julie, however, is actualy Grace from Tennessee and she has left behind not only two men—one, her husband and the other, the man she loves—but the consequences of a heist of her orchestration. Struggling to leave her checkered past behind, Grace unravels her own identity and forges a new one.
(To be released on February 3, 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Described as a “bildungsroman with a kick,” Disgruntled is a gritty portrait of Kenya, the daughter of Afrocentric parents who struggles to fit in and come to terms with her emerging adulthood. She navigates the usual challenges of adolescence along with fitting in at an all-white elite private school, grappling with a traumatic event, and negotiating her relationships with her step-father and father. Taking place in Philadelphia, Asali Solomon’s Disgruntled deftly delves into both the situated particularities of Kenya’s life and the universalities of coming of age.