Abraham Lincoln, Immigration, and Glamping: Winter 2017 Fiction Preview

Abraham Lincoln, Immigration, and Glamping: Winter 2017 Fiction Preview

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Baby, it’s cold outside. So instead of bundling up to brave the elements, why not curl up inside with a book and a mug of something hot and comforting? No matter what kind of novel you prefer, this season has the perfect book for every reader. Sophie Kinsella fans are in luck, as the author of the beloved Shopaholic series is back with a new book about the pitfalls of perfection. Readers who have obsessed over George Saunders’ short stories for years can finally dive into his first novel-length endeavor, which is about a mourning Abraham Lincoln. So what are you waiting for? Take off your winter boots and stay a while.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?

Love and race

Author, filmmaker, and activist Kathleen Collins died almost three decades ago, but this collection of her short stories is finally making its way onto shelves this winter. Collins dissects relationships and issues of race and gender, taking readers into the lives of black men and women living in the 1960s. At under 200 pages, this volume might feel light, but these stories are emotionally vibrant and incisive in a way that really packs a wallop. This impressive collection earned starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, making it one of the most critically acclaimed releases of the season.

On shelves: December 6

The Gardens of Consolation

Political shifts

Talla and Sardar Amir married in the 1920s in Iran, at a time when the country was undergoing tremendous changes. Talla was nine years old. The couple gave birth to a son years later in 1933, and named him Bahram. This son grows up to be very different from his parents: He learns to read and to write, and even receives a scholarship to go to college. These experiences have a profound impact on his identity and beliefs, and he joins a nationalist group while at school. All the while, woven into the narrative is Iran’s tremendously shifting political situation. Readers will be fascinated by the differences in Bahram’s politics as compared to those of his parents, and will gain insight into 20th century Iranian history.

On shelves: December 6

History of Wolves

The days get shorter and the nights get cold

This may be Emily Fridlund’s first book, but based on its reception (including starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly) we sure hope it isn’t her last. Readers will meet Linda, a teenage girl living in Minnesota who tends to spend a lot of time by herself. When the Gardners move in across the lake, however, Linda becomes fixated with them. As she gets to know them, she begins to suspect they have a secret. This book walks a fine line between fiction and thriller—readers are sure to feel a pit deepening in their stomachs as they turn its pages. Rural Minnesota winters will take on a profound darkness in this gripping tale.

On shelves: January 3

Savage Theories

Braided stories

Travel to Buenos Aires in this debut novel from Pola Oloixarac that has already won accolades and a devout following in Argentina. Three stories intertwine in this book: the tale of Rosa obsessing over her professor, the adventures of a young couple named Kamtchowsky and Pabst, and a historical thread about a Dutch anthropologist who studies violence. These stories might sound disconnected, but Oloixarac combines them brilliantly. Kirkus raved in a starred review, “While there are echoes of [Jorge Luis] Borges and [Roberto] Bolaño here, the synthesis of ideas and the manic intelligence are wholly new. Brilliant, original, and very fun to read.”

On shelves: January 10

Lucky Boy

Crossing borders

Kavya and Soli’s lives converge in this novel from Shanthi Sekaran. Soli has immigrated to the United Streets from Mexico, and dreams of making a better life for herself. Kavya lives in Berkeley, California, where she is very aware of being a disappointment to her family. Kavya is unable to get pregnant, and Soli discovers she is pregnant after arriving in the U.S. Soon, the two women’s lives will touch, and neither one will ever be the same again. Soli’s son, Ignacio (nicknamed Nacho), will also be deeply affected. This book delves into the question of illegal immigration, and readers just might emerge from its pages seeing the issue a little differently than before.

On shelves: January 10

Homesick for Another World

Let me go home

You likely remember Ottessa Moshfegh as the author of the critically acclaimed 2015 novel Eileen. Now, Moshfegh is back with a collection of short stories about relationships and alienation, and it has already earned rave reviews ahead of its release. Dark subject matter and dark humor commingle in this unique collection. Publishers Weekly wrote in a starred review, “The author’s acute insight focuses obsessively, uncomfortably, humorously on excreta, effluvia, and human foible, drilling to the core of her characters’ existential dilemmas. Moshfegh is a force.”

On shelves: January 17

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan

Origami

Three stories about immigration, Ireland, and Judaism form a beautiful harmony in this exciting new novel from Ruth Gilligan. The Greenberg family knew they wanted to leave Lithuania, but instead of going to America, the family accidentally ends up in Ireland. Shem Sweeney suddenly and inexplicably loses the ability to speak. A journalist soul-searches regarding the meaning of identity and the possibility of conversion. The stories might seem totally disconnected, but Gilligan will entertain and amaze readers when she brings the threads together in Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, which earned rave reviews from a variety of outlets.

On shelves: January 24

4 3 2 1

The road not taken

Paul Auster’s new novel, 4 3 2 1, has the approximate dimensions of a phonebook (read: it’s big) and we couldn’t be more excited about it. This book follows the four lives of Archibald Isaac Ferguson—but you can call him Archie. Here, Auster writes about four identical Archie Fergusons and the parallel lives they lead in mid-20th century America. The Archies mature, learn, grow, and fall in and out of love in different and fascinating ways. For any reader who loves the thought of parallel universes and alternate realities, Auster’s latest is sure to delight.

On shelves: January 31

Autumn

To every thing there is a season

This new novel from Ali Smith is the first in a four-part series, each installment dealing with a different season. Smith’s subject is time itself: how it moves, how it feels, and what it all means. In Autumn, readers meet Elisabeth, a woman living in London who is having trouble renewing her passport. The Guardian is billing Autumn as the first post-Brexit novel, and all of the feelings and confusion associated with that specific point in time permeate the emotional content of this book. The literary world is abuzz about this interesting series, and we can’t wait to see what Ali Smith does next.

On shelves: February 7

The Refugees

Home away from home

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen returns with this collection of short stories about Vietnamese refugees. Nguyen reflects at length on home, identity, and the scars that history can leave on individuals. Refugees are an important subject for Nguyen, who wrote in a New York Times op-ed: “I am a refugee who, like many others, has never ceased being a refugee in some corner of my mind.” Here, he weaves tales about the experiences of those individuals and families, and his words will stay with the readers long after they turn the final page.

On shelves: February 7

My Not So Perfect Life

We used to have it all

Attention shopaholics: Sophie Kinsella (of Confessions of a Shopaholic fame) is back with a new novel about what happens when a “perfect” life falls apart. Katie Brenner had it all. She was living a glamorous life in London with a fancy job and a budding workplace romance. That is, until she got fired. Now Katie has to move back home and cope with her real life—not the life she had been busy selecting filters for on her Instagram account—and find a way to get back on her feet while working for her family’s glamping business. When an opportunity arises for Katie to punish Demeter, the boss who fired her, Katie must look long and hard at her own life and priorities. This book just might make readers rethink perfection.

On shelves: February 7

Lincoln in the Bardo

A ghost story

We feel pretty confident when we say that this will probably be one of 2017’s biggest novels. George Saunders has made a name for himself writing off-kilter short stories with real emotional heart, but with Lincoln In the Bardo, Saunders begins his career as a novelist. This story concerns a mourning Abraham Lincoln, whose son Willie has died of typhoid at age 11. Lincoln visits his son’s grave and encounters the ghosts who inhabit the graveyard where Willie rests. Formally unusual and stunningly impressive, this novel will undoubtedly win Saunders new devotees while thrilling his existing fans.

On shelves: February 14

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