"Foreign Influence" is Kirkus' preview of books first published overseas. Below are several books already making waves abroad.
U.K.: Apr. 21, 2016 | William Heinemann
U.S.: Aug. 9, 2016 | Henry Holt
The 19th-century Hindu saint Sri Ramakrishna has long fascinated British novelist Barker. Prone to trances, ecstatic fits, and sudden swoons into unconsciousness, Ramakrishna was “cherished and celebrated” from childhood. In an afterword which betrays her extensive reading on her subject, Barker describes her novel ...
Dan Vyleta photographed by Michael Lionstar.
A smoldering high-stakes fantasy adventure with twisting philosophical undertones, acclaimed novelist Dan Vyleta’s latest defies easy categorization. Smoke—set at an elite boarding school in an alternate Victorian England—is lush, dark, and terrifying. It is intellectually rigorous. It is also quietly tender. It feels like classic children’s literature, except that it’s also the stuff of nightmares. Here, moral impurity is not an idea but a physical reality: commit a sin and Smoke pours out of you, stinking, repulsive, leaving its ...
Charles Bock photographed by Nina Subin.
There can be a thin line between fiction and memoir—and it’s often hard to see where that line falls. Just this week I deleted a sentence from a review that said a debut novel had “an autobiographical feel”; many people assume that first novels are based on the author’s life, but who’s to say they’re not just beautifully imagined fiction?
Occasionally writers will make it clear that they’re drawing from their own experience. Kathryn Harrison, for example, wrote a novel ...
Ann Leary photographed Catherine White.
Ann Leary hopes she’s not stirring up a hornet’s nest by declaring her fascination with WASPs.
“Are we not supposed to say ‘New England WASPs’?” Leary says. “I hope that’s not derogatory now. ‘People I’ve known who come from old family money’? I’m fascinated by their relationship with money, which is so different from anyone I’ve ever known.”
Leary (The Good House, 2013; Outtakes from a Marriage, 2008), who grew up mainly in the Midwest, resides in a ...
Tess Taylor photographed by Lisa Beth Anderson.
To begin with, a confession: I am a little suspicious of poetic projects that aim to discuss an aspect of life that poets rarely engage in themselves. Maybe this comes from too many conversations with graduate student poets who aspire to, say, go into a factory or a fast food restaurant for a few days—and then write about the experience in the kind of elevated verse that only a fellow poetry PhD could parse. How much trouble can I get ...
Our preview of books first published overseas
I Am No One
U.K.: Feb. 9, 2016 | Atlantic Books
U.S.: July 4, 2016 | Tim Duggan Books
Divorced and lonely, Jeremy O’Keefe has returned to New York after a decade teaching at Oxford University. He becomes convinced he is being observed and followed yet cannot imagine why he would be of interest to any secret service. Perhaps it’s all in the mind? But how to explain the email he didn’t write, the sinister parcels that arrive ...
Stephanie Danler photographed by Nick Voderman.
Stephanie Danler’s debut novel, Sweetbitter, begins with a perfect amuse-bouche:
“You will develop a palate.”
“It’s a command from a voice from the future, that first line,” says Danler, who intended the second-person start as an homage to Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City. (McInerney reciprocated with an enthusiastic blurb for the back jacket.)
“The entire plot is in that sentence, ‘You will develop a palate,’ ” she says. “Nothing else really happens, except this young woman ...
Anton DiSclanfani photographed by Nina Subin.
Several years ago, on a Houston freeway overpass, a graffiti artist scrawled “be someone.” Depending on which Houstonian you ask, this is an empowering statement or a cheesy platitude (or, somehow, both?). Either way, to people outside the city, this must seem forehead-slapping in its obviousness. Be someone, sure; what else would you be? But what Houstonians know—and what makes this artistic statement at least a little pointed—is that Houston has always been a place of personal rediscovery and ...