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Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…
Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.
A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.
Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel.
Acerbic and ruefully funny, Always Happy Hour weaves tales of young women—deeply flawed and intensely real—who struggle to get out of their own way. They love to drink and have sex; they make bad decisions with men who either love them too much or too little; and they haunt a Southern terrain of gas stations, public pools, and dive bars. Though each character shoulders the weight of her own baggage—whether it’s a string of horrible exes, a boyfriend with an annoying child, or an inability to be genuinely happy for a best friend—they are united in their unrelenting suspicion that they deserve better.
These women seek understanding in the most unlikely places: a dilapidated foster home where love is a liability in “Big Bad Love,” a trailer park littered with a string of bad decisions in “Uphill,” and the unfamiliar corners of a dream home purchased with the winnings of a bitter divorce settlement in “Charts.” Taking a microscope to delicate patterns of love and intimacy, Miller evokes the reticent love among the misunderstood, the gritty comfort in bad habits that can’t be broken, and the beat-by-beat minutiae of fated relationships.
View Jan’s blog post about Always Happy Hour.
The Refugees, is a collection of perfectly formed stories written over a period of twenty years, exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.
With the coruscating gaze that informed The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration. The second piece of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.
*voting on titles for the second half of the year will occur at this meeting*
We’re all living in the wrong 2016. And it’s Tom Barren’s fault. Tom comes from the 2016 that people in the 1950s imagined we would have—a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and teleportation, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed…because it wasn’t really needed.
But despite the dazzling technology and global peace, Tom can’t seem to find his place in this perfect version of the world, and that’s before his life is turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom does the kind of thing you do when you’re heartbroken and have a time machine—something stupid.
He finds himself stranded in what seems to him to be a terrible dystopian wasteland, but which we recognize as our all-too-familiar real world: the wrong 2016. Tom is desperate to fix his mistake until he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and the woman who might just be the love of his life. Caught between his sense of responsibility to a utopian world and the unpredictable surprises of our complex, messy reality, Tom faces an impossible choice. His search for the answer takes him across continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.
On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel – in its form and voice – completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.