Our survey of books first published overseas that are making their way to America
Susan Barker photographed by Derek Anson.
U.K.: July 3, 2014 | Doubleday
U.S.: Aug. 18, 2015 | Touchstone
Wang Jun ekes out a living in gruelling 12-hour shifts as a taxi driver in dusty, polluted, crowded Beijing. His mundane life with his pretty masseuse wife and their adored daughter, Echo, in Apartment 404 is thrown into disarray by a series of letters from the mysterious Watcher, who claims to have known him in five previous lives. Wang’s past incarnations take the reader on ...
David Gates photographed by Mary McCormick
David Gates is many things. He’s a former journalist for Newsweek. A musician playing in three bands. A teacher in the University of Montana’s MFA program. He’s a writer, of course, and lately he’s been a writer wondering if he’s past his prime.
This is a trend for characters in his new book—his first in 16 years—A Hand Reached Down To Guide Me, a moving and nuanced collection of stories and one novella filled with aging artists, parents ...
Authors of WAR OF THE ENCYLCOPAEDISTS
Christopher Robinson & Gavin Kovite
If you didn’t know better, you’d assume that Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite were brothers by the way they talk together.
Even speaking from two different locations for a conference call interview, they find a natural rhythm together, they finish each other’s thoughts, and they are quick to laugh. It’s the sort of chemistry that shows itself in the pages of their first novel, War of the Encyclopaedists, which they wrote together over the span of five years. ...
Sharon Bolton photographed by John Coutts.
Sharon Bolton may not do wonders for Falkland Islands tourism. “I adore the feeling that when night falls, when the airplanes and the ships stop running, there is no escape,” she says. Perhaps not the best way to draw people to the remote British archipelago, but the perfect setting for a crime novel like Bolton’s latest stand-alone, Little Black Lies. Though Lies owes some of its darkness to unhealed wounds from the Falklands War, which took place over a ...
Nell Zink photographed by Fred Filkorn
Reading Nell Zink’s Mislaid is a profoundly disorienting experience. The novel, which recounts the saga of an ill-advised marriage between Lee, a gay professor, and Peggy, his lesbian student, in 1960’s Virginia and the complications that ensue when they start a family, is aggressively unlike most literary fiction. (Fittingly so, since Zink despises many of the conventions of contemporary novels and says she modeled the book on Viennese operetta instead.) Unfortunately, it also means that when she asks for my impressions of the novel, I cast about rather ineffectually before blurting out ...
Jabari Asim photographed by Shef Reynolds II
Jabari Asim has always liked the word “strong.” It was, in fact, the working title for his first novel, Only the Strong—subtitled, intriguingly, An American Novel—which takes place in Gateway City (a thinly veiled St. Louis) in the years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. “You need a solid community to have strength,” Asim says.
Only the Strong looks at St. Louis at a time when the notion of community strength, through troubled ...
Jim Shepard photographed by Barry Goldstein
Jim Shepard isn’t obscure; he is—as he puts it—“semi-obscure. It doesn’t seem to me something I should be bitter about.” He acknowledges that few writers are truly famous—fiction and poetry is itself an increasingly obscure endeavor—but says that, “even among literary writers, it’s not like I’m a household name by any means.”
The nicer way of saying this is to call him a “writer’s writer” (he jokes that he has heard this term for much of his ...
Mark Z. Danielewski
Mark Z. Danielewski knows he’s embarking on a journey as unlikely as it is impressive. “On one hand it’s ridiculously ambitious,” Danielewski says. “But, on the other, maybe it’s just a little more transparent about an ambition that many people have in their profession.”
Danielewski, almost certainly America’s most renowned and popular experimental writer, is already known for exploring and expanding the novel’s outer edges. Yet his newest project is an undertaking that will take him years, even ...