A novel that suffuses the senses.


Citizens of an island nation learn the ways that magic both blesses and curses their lives.

In Popisho, every child is born with "cors": their own particular type of magical power. They become acolytes to those who can teach them skills or are assisted by obeah women, whose “sole purpose was to curate magic.” For Anise, her cors is ironic: She is a healer and diagnostician, though she cannot heal whatever causes her own babies to be stillborn. Xavier’s cors is the ability to conjure any flavor into food with his hands; he is the country’s "macaenus," chosen by the gods to feed every citizen once, at the right time: "a man born to cook just for your individual appetite….He gave you what you needed, and that wasn’t just food: it was inspiration.” As the novel opens, Xavier has been tapped by Popisho’s governor to cook for his daughter, Sonteine, and her fiance on their wedding night—out of turn for a meal from the macaenus. Sonteine appears to have no cors while her twin brother, Romanza, has brought equal consternation to their powerful family by becoming acolyte—and lover—to an “indigent” man, a class of citizen who lives off the land. When a blast of magic affects all the island’s women at the same time, it brings these characters together in new ways and changes everyone’s understanding of love and community. Ross, who lives in England and was raised in Jamaica, wheels kaleidoscopically through different points of view and backward and forward in time, offering readers a cross section of her invented country: its politics, religion, economy, food. Her novel carves out a place in the canon of memorable works of magical realism alongside Midnight’s Children and One Hundred Years of Solitude, but it's also totally itself, a raunchy, sly, colorful exploration of individual and collective identity.

A novel that suffuses the senses.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-3746-0245-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.


The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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


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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