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Susan Conley’s Landslide

Named after the Fleetwood Mac song, the novel portrays a woman finding hope and strength even as the foundations of her life are shifting. Right at the start, the introspective narrator, Jill Archer, lays out the difficulties that permeate this domestic drama. She is raising two teenage sons, Sam and Charlie. She refers to them as “the wolves” because as they grow more distant from her, their mysterious silences make them seem like another species.

In Conversation

Kenan Trebinčević with Zachary Ginsburg

At age 11, Kenan Trebinčević found himself in the middle of a firefight, bullets ricocheting around him as he carried bread home to his family in hiding. As Muslims, they were targets of the brutal ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian War in 1993. Mortars were blowing up the street as he ran for his life. When he spotted his favorite teacher holding an AK-47, he went to him for help, but the Christian Serb turned his gun on Kenan and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed, allowing Kenan to escape, but the betrayal would be permanently etched into his memory.

Joshua Henkin’s Morningside Heights

Henkin’s latest novel Morningside Heights, delayed from publication for one year because of COVID-19, is a tragedy in which a family copes with one member’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a gracefully written book, Henkin’s best so far, that manages to be emotionally moving, without being cloying or so overwhelmingly depressive as to be unreadable.

Citizenship, Persona, and Testimony: Hafizah Geter’s Un-American

“My grass-stained knees pledge allegiance/to a country that belongs to no one/I love,” writes Hafizah Geter in the title poem of Un-American, a debut that interrogates citizenship, statehood, police brutality, and national identity.

Nawaaz Ahmed’s Radiant Fugitives

The 384-page novel is a bold, sweeping book featuring broad themes such as politics, sexuality, mixed-race marriage, and a dysfunctional family. Ahmed’s prose is imaginative and poetic, bringing readers into a week in the life of the Hussein women, comprised of sisters Seema and Tahera and mother, Nafeesa.

Essays, a Memoir, and a Work of New Fiction

In these three disparate books written by women, there are moments that shock and commonalities that illustrate the importance of diverse voices. In her new collection of essays, Jacqueline Rose writes with her usual precision about violence and its deadly grip on modern life. Black Box is the English translation of Shiori Ito’s groundbreaking account of surviving sexual violence in Japan. And in While Justice Sleeps, political powerhouse Stacey Abrams brings us a complex thriller focused on a young mixed-race woman investigating corruption at the highest levels of the US government.

Jonathan Lee’s The Great Mistake

The Great Mistake, a new novel by Jonathan Lee (High Dive), is about the life and death of Andrew Haswell Green, the fictional character who created New York. The narrator tells the story of “New York’s Famous Creator,” walking us through the steps that lead to his untimely death in 1903, while uncovering Andrew’s quiet and oftentimes lonely world.

Susan Bernofsky’s Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser

Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser (Yale University Press, 2021) is an affectionate, precise piece of writing that illustrates a man of complexities both personal and professional. It is an intimate portrait of an artist, soul-crushing in its realism, with all its valor and rigor.

An Epic Poem for Queens, NY: Carolyn Ferrell’s Dear Miss Metropolitan

In breadth and skill, insight and innovation, Dear Miss Metropolitan takes its place alongside Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 among the most profound works of literature to have emerged from crimes so horrific they became international sensations. Years in the making, emerging from a mind transformed by decades in a chrysalis, the book leaves one heaving a glorious sigh, feeling that it was well worth the wait, and harboring a secret hope that the next cocoon will crack more quickly.

The Sound of America: Jeanne Thornton’s Summer Fun

Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton is an epistolary novel that is as much mystery as cultural analysis and rewards the reader by never giving us what we expect or what we think we want.

In Conversation

David Leo Rice with Gabriel Frye-Behar

David Leo Rice’s debut collection of short fiction, Drifter: Stories, compiles roughly 10 years of writing into a single volume that screams—figuratively and, at times, literally—to be read as both a brilliant and disturbing reflection on a singularly strange decade, and as a grippingly accessible introduction to the work of an artist and storyteller with a voice and vision entirely his own.

Kevin Prufer’s The Art of Fiction

As the title of the book suggests, Prufer accomplishes this through an inventive, supple storytelling style that binds memories and hypotheticals to various fictional forms. The bulk of the collection is comprised of poems in which multiple narratives initially run parallel, then gradually angle towards one another and ultimately intersect.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2021

All Issues