An intelligently conceived meditation on the curative powers of storytelling.

READ REVIEW

THE COAT

A young man’s inheritance from his grandfather—a Holocaust survivor—ignites a desire to learn more about his own Jewish identity in this debut novel.

Seth Feinberg grows up in a thoroughly Jewish home, but it's one defined by ceremony and custom more than an obviously deep wellspring of faith. Seth’s paternal grandfather and grandmother are both Polish survivors of the Holocaust. (The teenager calls them Saba and Savta, “their Hebrew honorifics.”) But they rarely speak of their World War II experiences, which remain “shadows in the twilight, barely perceptible in the fading light of memory.” When Seth turns 18 years old, Saba promises him a gift, a leather coat worn by a Nazi officer. But when Saba dies, Seth is deprived of the full story behind that coat—a “single tangible piece of my family’s history”—so he’s compelled to investigate his grandparents’ backgrounds and the tragedy that tormented them. In the process, he begins to write short stories, fictional vignettes that imaginatively explore the different roles the coat could have played, some sad and others redemptive. Grunspan delicately charts Seth’s search for some fuller sense of his family’s identity, and, by extension, his own, and his struggle to understand what his grandparents endured and how they carried on. He’s poignantly baffled by the optimism that seemed necessary but impossible for their survival: “When did optimism peek through the clouds of despair? When people found surviving family or friends? With the promise of three meals a day, even if those meals were small and unfamiliar?” The author chronicles Seth’s investigation with exceeding sensitivity and thoughtfully raises questions about the healing abilities of fiction. In addition, the embedded short tales are a surprising delight and make up for the plot’s occasional tendency to lag.

An intelligently conceived meditation on the curative powers of storytelling. (glossary)

Pub Date: April 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68433-438-4

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more