Drawing from genres as diverse as horror, humor, and historical fiction, Kupersmith creates a rich and dazzling spectacle.

BUILD YOUR HOUSE AROUND MY BODY

A wide-ranging first novel that peels back the layers of a haunted Vietnam.

Winnie is just 22 when she moves in with her great aunt and two surly cousins in Saigon to teach English at the Achievement! International Language Academy. Winnie feels herself to be unexceptional in every way: Half White American, half Vietnamese, she sees herself as having “the muddy ambiguity of the middle.” (In a "taupe” bathroom stall, she gloomily wonders if she is blending into the walls.) She’s also a frankly terrible English teacher, and she lives in fear of being found out by her zealous expat colleagues. But Winnie is finally settling into life in Saigon with her boyfriend, Long, when she suddenly goes missing. Kupersmith, herself of Vietnamese heritage, interweaves Winnie’s life in Vietnam with other people's stories, all linked together by a supernatural bond: There’s the daughter of a prominent pepper company owner, who disappeared into the forest a generation before Winnie and was rescued under mysterious circumstances. There’s the team at Saigon Spirit Eradication, a kind of Vietnamese Ghostbusters, only the head of the organization, known as the Fortune Teller, is not what he appears to be. The novel also dips into Vietnam’s pre- and post-colonial history with French characters to explore the ways in which war creates another kind of hauntedness. There’s even a possessed dog. Any description of the book could make it sound like too many spinning plates, but Kupersmith manages the whirl with dexterity and confidence. The novel is epic enough in scope to require a character list and several pages of maps, but the pages fly as the reader is compelled to figure out how all the narratives will eventually collide.

Drawing from genres as diverse as horror, humor, and historical fiction, Kupersmith creates a rich and dazzling spectacle.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9332-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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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: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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