A novel that questions the right of an author to appropriate stories as it defends the right of the character to live them.

LACUNA

Lucy Lurie, the character at the heart of J.M. Coetzee’s acclaimed novel Disgrace, is reimagined as a real person struggling with the aftermath of both her rape and the use of her trauma as a symbol for the ostensibly larger ordeals of a post-apartheid South Africa.

Two years ago, Lucy Lurie was raped. Her attack was particularly brutal—there were multiple assailants, all of whom were strangers—and was widely reported upon by the South African media. Lucy, who is a junior lecturer at the fictional University of Constantia in Cape Town, recovers physically from her assault, but she struggles with severe PTSD, which leaves her with debilitating anxiety and agoraphobia. Prevented from working by her psychological condition, Lucy becomes more and more isolated, her social circle eventually reduced to the company of her therapist; her friend Moira, a self-proclaimed “literary star-fucker”; and her father, who witnessed her rape but seems to have moved on. Lucy’s ongoing trauma is further complicated by the fact that the formidable John Coetzee, a former senior colleague of hers at the university, has written a literary blockbuster based on her experience. And here’s where Snyckers’ book gets tricky. Because, of course, J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace does center the violent rape of the fictional character Lucy Lurie by a group of black African farm laborers as the lacuna that shapes the book’s overarching narrative metaphor. Snyckers’ Lucy Lurie, in the tradition of Antoinette Cosway in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, insists on both the reclamation of her personal experience and the recognition of her erasure. However, unlike Rhys' Antoinette, who lives fully enmeshed in the systemic oppressions enacted upon her, Snyckers’ Lucy is a sharp, analytical thinker well versed in the post-structuralist theory that makes her argument both trenchant and assailable. Snyckers’ Lucy takes issue with her fictional counterpart’s placid acceptance of her role as “the vessel through which the new world order will be born, in the person of her brown child.” Snyckers’ Lucy would like Synckers’ Coetzee—a figure akin to the real-life author but also understood as a fiction in his own right—to acknowledge the ways in which his appropriation of her narrative was a secondary reenactment of her trauma. Her quest for that reckoning becomes the central hinge upon which this surprising, subtle, and deeply challenging book swings.

A novel that questions the right of an author to appropriate stories as it defends the right of the character to live them.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-60945-725-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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