Fiction Previews, Jul. 2014, Pt. 1: Upcoming Authors from Robin Black to Tiphanie Yanique

Black, Robin. Life Drawing. Random. Jul. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781400068562. $25. LITERARY/PSYCHOLOGICAL
Having grabbed out attention with the story collection If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, blackrobinBlack returns with a debut novel about a couple living the good, creative life in the country—she’s a painter, he’s a writer—when an alluring British woman moves into the house next door and disrupts everything. Pitched to the Lorrie Moore, Amy Bloom, and Mary Gaitskill crowds.

Harrison, Wayne. The Spark and the Drive. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781250041241. $25.99. LITERARY/COMING OF AGE
Harrison’s short story collection, Wrench, was a finalist for the Iowa Book Award, the Serena McDonald Kennedy Award, and the Spokane Prize, and his work has been featured in Best American Short Stories 2010 and on NPR’s All Things Considered. So I think we can expect a lot from this debut novel about 17-year-old Justin Bailey, who finds happiness when he starts working at the shop of renowned muscle car mechanic Nick Campbell. Then tragedy strikes Nick and his wife, Mary Ann, leaving Nick a broken man and Justin increasingly drawn to Mary Ann. With a reading group guide.

Jacob, Mira. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. Random. Jul. 2014. 512p. ISBN 9780812994780. $26. CD: Penguin Random Audio. POP FICTION/FAMILY LIFE
Having done everything from editing websites like Yahoo! Shine and to cofounding the Pete’s Reading Series in Brooklyn, Jacob shows up with a first novel that ranges from Seventies India to Eighties New Mexico to Nineties Seattle. Brain surgeon Thomas Eapen’s decision to shorten his visit to his mother’s home in India has consequences that reverberate two decades later as he starts conversing with the dead and daughter Amina must sort through the family’s past to help him. The book was bought in a five-round auction involving seven houses, and rights have been sold to seven foreign territories.

Makkai, Rebecca. The Hundred-Year House. Viking. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780525426684. $26.95. LITERARY
Husband to the heir of an estate that once sponsored an arts colony, Doug is eager to jump-start his academic career by plumbing the colony’s files. But the secrets he discovers about the colony, the house, and the family make his hair stand on end. Definitely check out this book by Makkai, who did nicely with The Borrower, an IndieNext pick and an O, The Oprah Magazine Fall Reading selection, and who has had pieces in Best American Short Stories for rotertfour years running.

Rotert, Rebecca. Last Night at the Blue Angel. Morrow. Jul. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062315281. $25.99. LITERARY/FAMILY LIFE
Set in tumultuous early 1960s Chicago, at a time when the jazz scene was thriving, this debut novel stars emerging jazz singer Naomi and her anxious young daughter, Sophia. Naomi, a headliner at the Blue Angel club for almost ten years who has made the cover of Look magazine, is a talented but destructive woman, and Sophie has grown up too fast, with her only real source of stability a man desperately in love with her mother. It’s not every debut that gets a 100,000-copy first printing, and there’s major outreach to book clubs as well.

Weil, Josh. The Great Glass Sea. Grove. Jul. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780802122155. $26. LITERARY
Weil’s novella collection, The New Valley, won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, and he was named a “5 Under 35” author by the National Book Foundation. His debut novel offers a magically twisted dystopian tale set in an alternative Russia, where twins Yarik and Dima grow up close, then grow apart even as they work together on Oranzheria, an acres-wide sea of glass lit by space mirrors that is meant to trap the citizens of Petroplavilsk in perpetual daylight. Then the billionaire owner of Oranzheria sets them up as representatives of conflicting ideologies. Whoa! With an eight-city tour to Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Charlottesville, VA; Oxford, MS; Los Angeles; and San Francisco. yanique

Yanique, Tiphanie. Land of Love and Drowning. Riverhead. Jul. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9781594488337. $27.95. HISTORICAL
A Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award winner who, like Weil, was named a “5 Under 35” author by the National Book Foundation, Yanique follows up her story collection How To Escape from a Leper Colony with this debut novel. In the early 1900s, a ship sinks off the Virgin Islands just as they are being transferred from Danish to American rule, and two sisters and their half-brother are orphaned. Fortunately, each has a distinctive magical gift. A three-generation saga from an author born on St. Thomas, VI.

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.