Award-Worthy Authors from Ausubel to Tolstaya | Fiction Previews, Mar. 2018

Ausubel, Ramona. Awayland: Stories. Riverhead. Mar. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9781594634901. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780698410862. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. SHORT STORIES
Winner of the PEN Center USA Fiction Award and a NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award finalist for her debut novel, No One Is Here Except All of Us, Ausubel continues her elegant, risk-taking way with this first collection of short stories. Here’s your chance to be intrigued by scenarios that include a homesick mother literally fading into mist, a small-town mayor offering a prize for any baby born on Lenin’s birthday, and a chef bound for Mars who must first conquer troubles close to home.

Brown, Taylor. Gods of Howl Mountain. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781250111777. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250111784. LITERARY
As with The River of Kings and Fallen Land, Montana Prize winner Brown vivifies the rural South in his newest novel, set 1950s North Carolina. There, folk healer Granny May mixes up potions and cures while tending to her grandson, Rory, a bootlegger back from the Korean War with a wooden leg. What’s more, there’s a dark secret in Rory’s past—his institutionalized mother has remained mute for years—and he’s about to learn why.

Clement, Jennifer. Gun Love. Hogarth: Crown. Mar. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781524761684. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781524761707. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
PEN/Faulkner nominee Clement, currently president of PEN International, has written a timely novel indeed. When Pearl was born, her mother fled with her to central Florida and settled in the parking lot next to a trailer camp. (Pearl grew up in the front seat of the car, while her mother claimed the back.) They’re good friends with the trailer park folks, but this is gun country, whether for hunting, protection, or show, and the rest is tragedy.

Goldberg, Paul. The Château. Picador. Feb. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781250116093. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250116109. LITERARY
Author of the darkly hilarious The Yid, a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize and the National Jewish Book Award’s Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction, Goldberg offers a second novel featuring suddenly jobless science reporter Bill, who heads to Florida to see if he can spin a story from the suspicious death of his college roommate, a celebrated plastic surgeon. The only problem: Bill’s wily father, Melsor Yakovlevich Katzenelenbogen, who’s working all the angles to get on the condo board at a seen-better-days high rise loaded with Russian Jewish immigrants and wants Bill’s help.

Lukas, Michael David. The Last Watchman of Old Cairo. Spiegel & Grau. Mar. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780399181160. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399181177. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
In this follow-up to Lukas’s multi-award-finalist, internationally best-selling debut novel The Oracle of Stamboul, Berkeley literature student Joseph—born of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father—is drawn into his remarkable family history. For a millennium, the al-Raqb family have served as watchmen of the Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, which boasts the celebrated and perhaps magical Ezra Scroll. In the late 1880s, when sacred texts started disappearing from the synagogue, British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret come to the rescue. Based partly on true stories, pretty remarkable in itself.

Pineda, Jon. Let’s No One Get Hurt. Farrar. Mar. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780374185244. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780374717698. LITERARY
Deep in the American South, 15-year-old Pearl is squatting in a derelict boathouse with her disgraced college professor dad when she encounters wealthy wild boy Mason Boyd, aka “Main Boy,” whose father has just bought the land where Pearl is living. Clearly, theirs will not be a relationship of equals, and clearly things are going to end badly. From the author of the novel Apology, a Milkweed National Fiction Prize, whose memoir, Sleep in Me, was a Discover Great New Writers Pick.

Sarvas, Mark. Memento Park. Farrar. Mar. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780374206376. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374713416. LITERARY
Contacted by the Australian consulate, Matt Santos learns about a painting that’s no mere memento. It may have been looted from his family in Hungary during World War II, and finding the truth means rummaging around in his family history and reconnecting with his icy father and lost Jewish faith. Meanwhile, he ponders the painter and the painting in what becomes a meditation on art itself. From celebrated Elegant Variation blogger Sarvas, whose well-received debut novel, Harry, Revised, appeared in 2008.

Schutt, Christine. Pure Hollywood: And Other Stories. Grove. Mar. 2018. 144p. ISBN 9780802127617. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780802165657. SHORT STORIES
A National Book Award finalist for Florida and a Pulitzer Prize finalist for All Souls, Schutt has the credentials to back up this story collection: she’s also a two-time winner of the O. Henry Prize. The characters in these love-hurts stories range from a young mother who rejects her child with tragic consequences to a widowed actress succumbing to alcohol while living alone in the desert. Expect elegant, chiseled language; a big boost at PLA and ALA.

Tolstaya, Tatyana. Aetherial Worlds: Stories. Knopf. Mar. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781524732776. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781524732783. Downloadable: Random Audio. SHORT STORIES
Tolstaya is a literary celebrity in Russia, and why not? She’s the great grand-niece of Lev Tolstoy and granddaughter of Aleksey Tolstoy. She’s also written for the New York Review of Books and The New Yorker, with four of these 18 stories first appearing in the latter publication. The stories, many never before published, boast compelling female narrators and have settings both Soviet and revealingly post-Soviet.



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.

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