More Power Debut Novels | Fiction Previews, Aug. 2018


English, Talley. Horse. Knopf. Aug. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781101874332. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101874349. Downloadable. LITERARY/COMING OF AGE
When her father abandons the family, leaving behind heartbreak and chaos, Teagan steadies herself by working hard to train Ian—that is, Obsidian, her father’s head-tossingly, fiercely beautiful, stubbornly independent-minded horse. By all accounts, not your average girl-with-horse saga; English is an award-winning poet, and you’ll see this advertised on NPR and in Granta.

Greengrass, Jessie. Sight. Hogarth: Crown. Aug. 2018. 208p. ISBN 9780525574606. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780525574620. Downloadable. LITERARY/WOMEN’S
Winner of a Somerset Maugham Award for her story collection Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It and highlighted as an emerging writer by the Independent (UK), Irish Times, and Book Riot, Greengrass hits these shores with a debut novel whose unnamed narrator chronicles her movement toward motherhood, even as she recalls the death of her own mother and summering as a child with her psychoanalyst grandmother. Key events of medical history end up as a part of the mix.

Hua, Vanessa. A River of Stars. Ballantine. Aug. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780399178788. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399178801. Downloadable. LITERARY/ASIAN AMERICAN
A columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of the glowingly reviewed small-press debut collection Deceit and Other Possibilities, Hua claims multiple awards that include a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and an Asian/Pacific Award for Literature. Here, Chinese factory clerk Scarlett Chen is pregnant by her boss/lover, who sends her to America to give birth and then betrays her. Soon she’s on the run from the maternity center with another mother-to-be.

Locascio, Lisa. Open Me. Grove. Aug. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780802128072. $25. LITERARY
In 2010, planning on studying abroad during a gap year, Roxana Olsen inadvertently ends up in Copenhagen rather than Paris and falls for her 28-year-old guide, Søren. She spends a sexually voracious summer with him in a small Danish town but is also drawn to a town outsider, a refugee from the Balkan Wars. Lots of buzz for this work by Locascio, copublisher of Joyland and editor of 7x7LA, and you have to think twice about a book described as an “intellectual, discerning, literary reader’s Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Saunders, Paula. The Distance Home. Random. Aug. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780525508748. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525508755. Downloadable. LITERARY
In the wilds of 1960s South Dakota, where Saunders grew up (both her father and her grandfather were cattle brokers), siblings Rene and Leon face relentless pressure to achieve. Their father appreciates his brainy daughter’s gift of dance, something he scorns in his equally talented but wistfully shy son. Saunders, who left home at age 15 to dance in New York and is married to renowned author George Saunders, received a postgraduate Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in the Humanities at SUNY Albany.

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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