A memorable entry into the dystopian-literature canon from a young German writer to watch.

MILK TEETH

The appearance of an outsider disrupts the lives of two women, a mother and daughter, living in an isolated, apocalyptic environment.

Edith and Skalde live in "the territory," a landscape blighted by oppressive heat. Most large animals have died off, though dogs are still pets and rabbits remain as one of the only sources of meat. Skalde, the book’s sole narrator, tends to their potato patch and does her best to grow up in the face of Edith’s indifference (Edith spends days on end lying on the couch or in the bathtub) and cruelty, both emotional and physical. Now Skalde has only her writings to keep her company. It hasn’t always been this way: From her childhood, Skalde remembers fog, damp weather, and Edith’s attention. Although they are not alone in the territory, the few other inhabitants tend to steer clear of them for reasons that Skalde doesn’t fully understand. She is resigned to their isolation, though; the one bridge to the mainland was deliberately blown up years before to keep the territory residents safe from interlopers. That’s why it shocks Skalde to come across a young girl with red hair—a clear sign that she doesn’t belong to the territory. When Skalde decides to take the girl, Meisis, back to the home she shares with Edith, she has no idea how much this will threaten the territory’s residents and how quickly whatever order was found there will unravel. Bukowski has written a lean, muscular book that dispenses with much worldbuilding or exposition, but the book’s taut shape seems to fit with Skalde’s fiercely guarded self-sufficiency. With dashes of folk horror, cli-fi, and post-apocalyptic influences, Bukowski crafts a narrative that is somehow both propulsive and elegantly spare.

A memorable entry into the dystopian-literature canon from a young German writer to watch.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-951213-35-0

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Unnamed Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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An exhilarating ride through Americana.

THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY

Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm.

They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCD–like symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New York–bound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history.

An exhilarating ride through Americana.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-73-522235-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

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CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.

Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-43-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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