(3) coming soon May releases that look very good to me.
Nitro Mountain; Lee Clay Johnson
Knopf- May 2016
An astonishing, even shocking debut written with both humor and heart by, as John Casey puts it, “a natural-born writer who inhabits every one of his characters—the good, the bad, and those who swing back and forth.”
Set in a bitterly benighted, mine-polluted corner of Virginia, Nitro Mountainfollows a group of people bound together by alcohol, small-time crime and music. There’s Leon, a hapless bass player who can embroil himself in trouble just by getting out of bed in the morning. And his would-be girlfriend, Jennifer, who’s living with Arnett, the town’s most dangerous thug—and hoping Leon will help her poison him. And there’s Arnett himself, a psychopath for the ages—albeit so charming and deranged, so strikingly authentic, that he arrests the reader’s attention at first sight and holds it fast. His mirror image, a singer-songwriter named Jones, has his own moral issues, though at least he’s tryingto be a good man. The bright if battered soul who pulls us through this story is Jennifer, a vulnerable yet strong woman struggling heroically to survive the endemic hopelessness and violence that have surrounded her since birth.
Relentless? Yes, of course, but never remotely gratuitous. Every single moment is shot through with the pain and misery that inspire so much of the music these people love more than life itself.
Dear Fang, With Love; Rufi Thorpe
Knopf - May 2016
A bold, spellbinding novel featuring one of the most fascinating protagonists in recent memory, Dear Fang, With Love tells the story of seventeen-year-old Vera—ravishing, troubled, wildly intelligent—who travels to Europe with her estranged father, hoping that an immersion in history might help them forget his past mistakes and her uncertain future.
Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after a decade of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera's life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother's homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? Skillfully weaving family mythology and Lithuanian history with a story of mental illness, inheritance, young love, and adventure, Rufi Thorpe has written a breathtakingly intelligent, emotionally enthralling book.
The Veins of the Ocean; Patricia Engel
Grove Press - May - 2016
“Engel has an eye for detail. She knows how to drown the reader in a sense of enchantment... She writes exquisite moments.”—Roxane Gay, The Nation
Reina Castillo is the alluring young woman whose beloved brother is serving a death sentence for a crime that shocked the community, throwing a baby off a bridge—a crime for which Reina secretly blames herself. With her brother's death, though devastated and in mourning, Reina is finally released from her prison vigil. Seeking anonymity, she moves to a sleepy town in the Florida Keys where she meets Nesto Cadena, a recently exiled Cuban awaiting with hope the arrival of the children he left behind in Havana. Through Nesto’s love of the sea and capacity for faith, Reina comes to understand her own connections to the life-giving and destructive forces of the ocean that surrounds her as well as its role in her family's troubled history, and in their companionship, begins to find freedom from the burden of guilt she carries for her brother’s crime.
Set in the vibrant coastal and Caribbean communities of Miami, the Florida Keys, Havana, Cuba, and Cartagena, Colombia, with The Veins of the Ocean Patricia Engel delivers a profound and riveting Pan-American story of fractured lives finding solace and redemption in the beauty and power of the natural world, and in one another.