Literary Gems (e.g., Nancy Huston, Brian Morton) and Some Major Debuts | Fiction Previews, Sept. 2014, Pt. 5

Adcock, Siobhan. The Barter. Dutton. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780525954224. $26.95. LITERARY
In present-day Texas, Bridget feels a certain emptiness after giving up her career as an attorney barterto raise her daughter—and a certain anxiousness because she alone senses that an alien presence has entered the house. A century before, a bride from the city connects magnetically with her new husband farmer, then rejects him for the love of her child. In this debut, the parallel stories crosscut as each woman arrives at a terrible crossroads. A huge push.

Antrim, Donald. The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories. Farrar. Sept. 2014. 176p. ISBN 9780374280932. $22.  SHORT STORIES
Not just a 2013 MacArthur Fellow but named among the 20 best writers under 40 by The New Yorker in 1999, Antrim presents stories published in that magazine over the last 15 years that feature artists, writers, lawyers, teachers, and actors at their most hapless and hungry for life.

Christie, Alix. Gutenberg’s Apprentice. Harper. Sept. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062336019. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062336033. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
What better subject for a book than Peter Schoeffer, compelled by his foster father to become an apprentice to Johann Gutenberg and eventually the founder of the Frankfurt Book Fair, about to celebrate its 560 anniversary? First novelist Christie, who has studied letterpress printing, crafts a timeless story of the old giving way to the new. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Enger, Lin. The High Divide. Algonquin. Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781616203757. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616204266. CD: Highbridge Audio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
In this latest from James Michener Award winner Enger, which opens in 1886 Minnesota, blackdanceGretta Pope awakens to find her husband vanished and sends her sons after him. Soon she follows herself—deep into the badlands of Montana and lots of trouble. With an eight-city tour; look for a United for Libraries event with Enger at BookExpo America.

Huston, Nancy. Black Dance. Black Cat: Grove Atlantic. Sept. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780802122711. pap. $15. LITERARY
As he lies on his deathbed, screenwriter Milo Noirlac recalls his life, from being a foster child to writing his final screenplay with his director partner, while also summoning up ancestors ranging from French to English, German, Cree, and Gaelic. All of this to the rhythm of a ferocious Brazilian dance called the capoeira. A frequent award winner (e.g., Prix Femina, Governor General’s Award), Canadian author Huston is relentlessly fresh and perceptive, whatever she writes.

Landis, Dylan. Rainey Royal. Soho. Sept. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781616954529. $25. LITERARY
Landis got lovely reviews and sold an impressive 10,000 copies for her small-press linked-story landiscollection, Normal People Don’t Live Like This. So pay attention to her debut novel, set in 1970s Greenwich Village and featuring rebellious 14-year-old Rainey Royal, living with her jazz musician father in a rundown brownstone and battling to right her knocked-about life. Lots of in-house love; YA crossover appeal, too.

Magee, Audrey. The Undertaking. Grove. Sept. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780802122452. $25. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
Published to strong reviews in the U.K. (it “succeeds in doing what only the best historical novels can do–making the past feel present,” Independent), this debut novel by Irish author Magee tells the story of a young German soldier who agrees to marry a woman he’s never met simply to escape the eastern front during World War II for a few days. Alas, Peter Faber still finds himself on the way to Stalingrad.

Morton, Brian. Florence Gordon. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780544309869. $25.LITERARY
Winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and a PEN/Faulkner finalist, Morton offers a novel starring an audacious, outspoken 75-year-old who’s all set to write her memoirs when her son and his family return to New York from Seattle, stealing her time and her energy with their problems. Morton is a writer beloved by those in the know; join the florencegcrowd.

Thompson, Jean. The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told. Blue Rider. Sept. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780399170584. $25.95. SHORT STORIES
Thompson, author of the National Book Award finalist Who Do You Love and, more recently, The Humanity Project, offers modern retellings of classic fairy tales that show how dark and moody and timeless hungry wolves and witches who munch on children really are.

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.