Benson, Adrienne. The Brightest Sun. Park Row: Harlequin. Mar. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780778331278. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488028090. LITERARY
Harlequin’s new literary imprint is feeling radiant about this debut from the African-raised Benson, who returned to work there as a Peace Corps volunteer. Set in 1990s under Africa’s bright sun, it explores the lives of three women—two white American ex-pats and an indigenous Massai. Anthropologist Jane wonders if she’ll be a good mother to her newborn, lonesome Jane is just tagging along for her husband’s job, and Simi, unable to have a child, must consider her worth in a traditional society. With a 30,000-copy first printing.
Bradbury, Jamey. The Wild Inside. Morrow. 304p. ISBN 9780062741998. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062742018. lrg. prnt. LITERARY
Winner of the Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, Bradbury knows how to write; this first novel got in-house raves on LJ’s recent “Sleeper Hits” webcast. Trapper/hunter Tracy Petrikoff knows her way around the Alaskan wilderness but can’t remember what happened when she’s attacked and left unconscious in the woods. Soon, a stranger walks the edges of the forest with a knife wound Tracy might have inflicted and another shows up looking for a job and ingratiating himself with Tracy’s widowed father. What’s going on? With a 75,000-copy first printing.
Greathead, Kate. Laura & Emma. S. & S. Mar. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781501156601. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781501156632. LITERARY
A nine-time Moth StorySLAM champion, Greathead flutters in with a debut novel starring Laura, born and raised with quite the silver spoon in her mouth on Manhattan’s Upper East Side but a wandering post–flower child by 1981. Then she gets pregnant after a one-night stand and, remarkably, decides to raise little Emma within the confines of the private-school-by-winter, Hamptons-by-summer world she had renounced.
Johnson, Chelsey. Stray City. Custom House. Mar. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780062666680. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062666703. lrg. prnt. LITERARY
Armed with an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University and already much published in literary journals, Johnson turns in a debut novel about a young artist who leaves behind her Midwestern Catholic childhood for the lesbian underground of Portland, OR. At first happy, then distraught when she’s betrayed by both a friend and a lover, Andrea Morales decides to sleep with a man—and to keep the baby that results. With a 100,000-copy first printing.
Koelb, Tadzio. Trenton Makes. Doubleday. Mar. 2018. 224p. ISBN 9780385543385. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780385543392. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
“Trenton Makes, the World Takes” shouts a sign that’s long graced a bridge across the Delaware River connecting the old colonial city, state capital, and rough-tough industrial city to Pennsylvania. Koelb’s debut opens in 1946 with a woman killing her army veteran husband, Abe Kunstler, during a domestic dispute, then assuming his identity, getting a factory job, and even marrying. By 1971, both Abe’s charade and Trenton itself is crumbling. From a graduate of the University of East Anglia’s topnotch writing program who’s published reviews and essays in big venues.
Lombardo, A.G. Graffiti Palace. Sean McDonald: Farrar. Mar. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780374165918. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374716714. LITERARY
In boiling-over 1965 Los Angeles, graffiti fan Americo Monk is trying to wend his way back to the little harbor community built of shipping containers that he and his girlfriend call home. But major violence, not to mention Chinese gangsters, reputed witches, and an encounter with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, get in his way. I can’t tell you much about Lombardo, but the idea of setting The Odyssey during the 1965 Watts Riots, with surreal overtones, is awesome.
Mackin, Will. Bring Out the Dog: Stories. Random. Mar. 2018. 192p. ISBN 9780812995640. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812995657. Downloadable: Random Audio. SHORT STORIES
In the noble tradition of the soldier writer we’ve seen evolving over the last decade, here’s a story collection from a U.S. Navy veteran who completed five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan giving us the first literary depiction of a SEAL Team at war. Two of the stories first appeared in The New Yorker, with one also appearing in Best American Short Stories 2014; the remaining stories are all original.
Steavenson, Wendell. Paris Metro. Norton. Mar. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780393609783. $25.95. LITERARY
A 2011 finalist for the Orwell Prize and a 2014 Nieman Fellow at Harvard, journalist Steavenson turns to fiction to tell a different kind of truth—and does this sound good. Kit, an American journalist who spent the immediate post-9/11 years covering war in the Middle East, now lives in Paris, raising teenage son Ahmed and estranged from her Iraqi diplomat husband. Then a friend dies in the Charlie Hebdo attack, the Bataclan is stormed, and Kit must reconsider her beliefs—especially when she suspects that Ahmed is drawn to the terrorists.
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