It’s hard to publish a second novel—unless, perhaps, you’re Donna Tartt or Marilynne Robinson or another writer whose first got so much acclaim that readers will wait years to see what you’ll do next. Otherwise, second novels don’t have the glamour of debuts, and it can be hard to interest journalists in splashy profiles of their authors. (Two counterexamples are A Little Life and Delicious Foods, whose authors, Hanya Yanigahara and James Hannaham, were recently on the cover of Kirkus Reviews.) Here are some recently published second novels that deserve your attention:
Orient (May 5) by Christopher Bollen
Mills Chevern (“You know by now that Mills Chevern isn’t my real name”) arrives in Orient, on the North Fork of Long Island, as an adolescent drifter. He leaves a somewhat more established figure in the community, both suspect and savior. What happens in between is the subject of all kinds of speculation in Bollen's leisurely yarn, for his arrival coincides with a rash of murders in the placid community, a haven for the well-to-do and a slew of real estate agents, developers, and artists (“the sex was miserable, but they were artists who craved misery”) who depend on those richies for their livelihoods.
Where They Found Her (April 14) by Kimberly McCreight
Accustomed to writing lifestyle articles, reporter Molly Sanderson—a recent transplant to upscale Ridgedale with her English-professor husband and young daughter—never expected her first hard-news story to involve a dead baby. She's still reeling from her own miscarriage, and when an unidentified newborn girl is found in the woods near the college campus, it hits close to home.
The Household Spirit (June 9) by Tod Wodicka
An unconventional friendship arises between two damaged people sharing a lonely upstate New York road.…Howie lives alone, 20 years divorced and just turned 50. He’s estranged from his daughter, who’s 24, the same age as Emily, the woman he watches behaving oddly outside the house next door as the novel opens. He watched years earlier when Emily’s young mom came home pregnant, delivered, and soon after died with her own mother in a car crash, leaving the infant with her grandfather, Peppy. He watched when Emily nursed Peppy until he passed away. “Wodicka’s fluid, expressive prose—dotted with quotable observations often as odd as his players—serves well his weaving of such a convincing, unexpected story from eccentricity, pain, and need,” our reviewer wrote. —L.M.
Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.