New Fiction from Award Winners Appelfeld, Mosley, Norman, & More | Fiction Previews, May 2014, Pt. 5

Appelfeld, Aharon. Suddenly, Love. Schocken. May 2014. 240p. ISBN 9780805242959. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780805243154. LITERARY
Gruff and moody Ernst, a 70-year-old Red Army veteran born in the Ukraine, has lived in Israel since World War II; he lost his first wife and child to the German invaders and his second wife to divorce. He’s tended to by Irena, the single 36-year-old daughter of Holocaust survivors, and soon finds that he cares for her much more than he does for his unpublished novels. The multi-award-winning Appelfeld will make something of this poignant scenario. With a reading group guide.

Gilchrist, Ellen. Acts of God. Algonquin. May 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781616201104. $23.95. SHORT STORIES
National Book Award winner Gilchrist offers 11 stories about people who triumph, among them Arkansas teenager Marie James, who joins in an effort to locate survivors of a tornado that has decimated a nearby town, and Eli Naylor, orphaned by a flood yet able to find something meaningful in life. Gilchrist’s first collection in eight years.

Mosley, Walter. Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore. Doubleday. May 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780385526180. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385538398. Downloadable: Penguin Random Audio. LITERARY
Famed black porn queen Debbie, who sports a blonde wig and blue contacts, has just had two big surprises: she’s had an orgasm on set, and she’s come home to find her former porn star husband electrocuted in the hot tub with another woman. Now she wants out of the adult entertainment industry, but that’s not as simple as it seems. Winner of PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Mosley delivers an explicit work that should raise eyebrows…or something.

Norman, Howard. Next Life Might Be Kinder. Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780547712123. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780547712147. LITERARY
In another meditative and wrenching book from Norman, winner of a Lannan Award and twice a National Book Award finalist, Sam Lattimore quickly marries Elizabeth Church after meeting her at an art gallery and just as quickly loses her to murder. Thereafter, he’s constantly at odds with the stylish film director to whom he’s somewhat desperately sold his story, and he starts seeing—and even conversing with—Elizabeth. With at 35,000-copy first printing.

St. Aubyn, Edward. Lost for Words. Farrar. May 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780374280291. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780374711481. LITERARY
Shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize for Mother’s Milk, one of his celebrated Patrick Melrose novels, St. Aubyn has the inside track on the book awards game, which serves as the premise of his latest work. The time has come for deciding who gets the Elysian Prize for Literature, but one hopeful finds that her publisher has inadvertently submitted a cookbook instead of her novel while another gets vengeful when he’s not on the shortlist (who wouldn’t want to read The Mulberry Elephant?). Hilarity with an edge.

Wu Ming-Yi. The Man with the Compound Eyes. Pantheon. May 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780307907967. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307907974. LITERARY
Wu has won both the Taipei Book Fair Award and the China Times Open Book Award, but this is his English-language debut. On a mythical island called Wayo-Wayo, Atile’i has come of age and must follow tradition by sailing forth to sacrifice to the Sea God. Instead, he finds a floating island of trash, which collides dramatically with the Taiwan coast—just in time to keep Alice from committing suicide because her husband and son have disappeared. Soon, Atile’i and Alice join forces. Outrageously offbeat stuff with an underlying message: the island of trash recalls the actual Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a 5000-kilometer-square vortex of chewed-up, ever-spinning nonbiodegradable plastic.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.