Motherhood, Mermen, & Miss Subways | Literary Fiction Previews, May 2018

Brinkley, Jamel. A Lucky Man: Stories. Graywolf. May 2018. 264p. ISBN 9781555978051. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781555979959. SHORT STORIES
An Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate, Brinkley makes his debut to good effect: it was chosen as an Indies Introduce Winter/Spring 2018 title by the American Booksellers Association. In these stories, men and boys struggle with issues of privilege, desire, responsibility, and painful family history.

Broder, Melissa. The Pisces. Hogarth: Crown. May 2018. 224p. ISBN 9781524761554. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781524761578. Downloadable: Random Audio & Books on Tape. LITERARY
A Pushcart Prize–winning poet and an essayist with a new column and the celebrated collection So Sad Today to her name, Broder now tries out fiction. Lucy, in Venice Beach to recover from a nasty breakup by dog-sitting for her sister, remains glum until she spots an exceptionally graceful swimmer braving the waves one night. But what kind of relationship can you have with a merman? Broder has a big following on her Twitter account, @sosadtoday, but this book is actually funny.

Duchovny, David. Miss Subways. Farrar. May 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780374210403. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374717568. CD: Macmillan Audio. LITERARY
In Golden Globe–winning actor Duchovny’s third novel (after Holy Cow and Bucky F*cking Dent), Emer lives contentedly in New York with boyfriend Con. But she travels down parallel paths, leading other lives and losing and regaining love in a story that draws on worldwide mythologies, especially the Irish myth of Emer and Cuchulain, but always circles back to Emer’s beloved city.

Hansen, Malcolm. They Come in All Colors. Atria. May 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781501172328. $26. LITERARY
In Hansen’s thematically important debut, biracial 13-year-old Huey Fairchild lands at New York’s elite Claremont Prep, where he’s the only nonwhite student. He’s put on academic probation when sneaking racism sets off his temper, compelling him to look back at the racially charged incidents that sent him and his mother north from Georgia a few years previously while leaving his white father behind.

Headley, Maria Dahvana. The Mere Wife. Sean McDonald: Farrar. May 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780374208431. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374715540. LITERARY
Two mothers square off in this contemporary retelling of Beowulf, with emphasis given to Grendel’s point of view. Willa lives fecklessly at Herot Hall, a gated, self-sustaining suburban community, while battle-scarred vet Dana lives in a cave in the nearby mountains with son Gren. Unaware of society’s rules, Gren wanders into Herot Hall and in the ensuing confrontation carries off Willa’s son Dylan. From a New York Times best-selling author with Nebula and Shirley Jackson nominations, going literary.

Heti, Sheila. Motherhood. Holt. May 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781627790772. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781627790789. CD: Macmillan Audio. LITERARY
Heti, who’s claimed New York Times Notable Book status for How Should a Person Be? and Times best-selling status for Women in Clothes, returns with an examination of motherhood—not the when, why, and how but the whether. Her narrator is in her late thirties, surrounded by friends having babies, considering her responsibilities to her partner and her forebears, and decidedly undecided. Heti is always original.

Kidd, Jess. Mr. Flood’s Last Resort. Atria. May 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781501180637. $26. LITERARY
In this follow-up to her attention-grabbing debut, Himself, Costa short story winner Kidd introduces us to widower Cathal Flood, who lives alone in a stuffed-to-the-rafters Gothic mansion in Dorset and resists his son’s efforts to move him to an old age home. He has an ally in determinedly cheerful caretaker Maud, but family secrets and the long-ago case of a missing schoolgirl could upend everything.

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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