A formally diverse collection with exquisitely crafted stories about longing, striving, and learning what we can control.

EACH OF US KILLERS

A slim debut full of nuanced, cleareyed tales of unvarnished humanity.

In these 15 stories, Bhatt's characters struggle against the barriers imposed on them by gender, race, class, caste, location, and familial expectations. Creating a rich array of Indian immigrants, students abroad, repatriates, and people who have never left their villages, Bhatt skillfully probes the fault lines where desire shears against limitation, revealing the complex mix of luck, history, circumstance, and grit that determines which side will dominate. In "Pros and Cons," Urmi, a 45-year-old yoga instructor who has drifted through a series of semifulfilling careers, is considering moving on from yoga, never having led a class of her own. When she makes a bid at feeling in control by having an end-of-retreat affair with a fellow teacher, she begins to trust again "in the one precious sanctuary that is ours alone, ours forever." In "Life Spring," a woman who returned to Mumbai after divorcing her husband is rehydrated by a passionate encounter, which feeds her inspiration as a baker and catalyzes her determination to create her own recipe for a successful life. In "Journey to a Stepwell," newly engaged Vidya and her mother travel to her mother's ancestral home to fulfill a prenuptial tradition. Throughout the long, crowded bus ride, Vidya badgers her mother to tell her once again the story of four beautiful, unmarried sisters; as she listens to the elegantly told legend, to which her mother appends a new ending, Vidya tries to envision the shape her future will take. And in the title story, a group of Dalit men in the tiny village of Saakarpada discuss a series of local tragedies with a journalist from Mumbai. Though he's one of their low-caste brothers, they believe the writer from the city can't comprehend the indignities, rigidity, injustices, and dangers they regularly face, and they reveal only certain details, determined to manage their affairs in the same way they always have. Though, as in most collections, not every story stands at the same level, there are more than enough gems of polish and depth to satisfy.

A formally diverse collection with exquisitely crafted stories about longing, striving, and learning what we can control.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73336-726-4

Page Count: 180

Publisher: 7.13 Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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