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


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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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.


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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A curious fetishization of outsiders, outlaws, and the down-and-out.


This debut novel from Walking Dead actor Reedus follows three thematically connected yet narratively unrelated people as they journey to find themselves.

Hunter, a heavily tatted Iraq War vet and self-proclaimed gearhead, attacks his boss at the bike shop after catching him kicking a dog. “Hunter was old school,” the narrator says, rough-hewn but with strong moral fiber and a heart of gold. After learning his father died in a “mysterious house fire” in California, Hunter hops on his Buell S1 motorcycle alongside his buddies Nugget and Itch for a cross-country haul to execute the will. Meanwhile, a wealthy 65-year-old executive named Jack is mugged while traveling aimlessly through South America, neither the first nor the last of his hardships. Jack abandoned his cushy, bloodless office lifestyle after his dying mother told him to “run and never look back,” words he continuously labors to unpack. Finally, Anne, an abused teenage girl in Tennessee, steals her father’s savings and .38 revolver and runs away from home, clobbering her brother upside the head with a cast-iron skillet when he tries to stop her. She connects with her friend Trot, and they join a community of train-hoppers. Co-written by Bill, the story reads like a pastiche of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the latter of which is name-dropped as “great” by multiple characters. Though occasionally hitting some beautiful imagery of the American heartland, Reedus falls victim to implausible dialogue—“Fabiola, you are reading me like a stock report,” Jack says—and overcooked language: “flesh the color of a high-dollar medium-roast coffee bean.” Frequently wordy summaries do little to develop the thinly sketched characters; we know nearly as much about them on Page 25 as on Page 250.

A curious fetishization of outsiders, outlaws, and the down-and-out.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-09-416680-3

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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