Lisa Rohrbaugh

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Songs in Ursa Major

Inspired by the folk rock scene of the late ’60s and early ’70s (and reputedly by the relationship between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell) this superbly crafted debut novel immerses readers in a story of family, love, and music from the first page. Brodie makes a point about the destructive force of drug abuse, and bears witness to unsavory business practices in the music industry. This book would make a wonderful movie; readers will long for an album of Jane’s songs to go with it.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The characters seem so real that readers will find themselves searching the internet, hoping to find that Opal and Nev are actual people. Walton has penned a true wonder of a debut novel, bringing real events into her story. Walton has a true storytelling voice, and her writing is impeccable.

The Ardent Swarm

Winner of the prestigious Prix de la Francophonie, Tunisian-born, Paris-based Manai’s first book to be translated into English is a fascinating account of parallel conflicts between bees and hornets and between villagers and fanatics. The enormous talent on display here recommends a second reading to relish the author’s storytelling ability.

The Rib King

Finely written and worth a second read, this novel would be a fantastic choice for book discussion groups. With complete faithfulness to the text, it could also make an excellent movie.

Aria

Exploring motherhood and personal relationships as well as the chaotic upheavals in revolutionary Tehran, this debut offers a powerful lead character in Aria. But its minor characters are just as memorable, with the narrative revealing how their circumstances have shaped their personalities. Highly recommended, especially for book groups.

Nightshade

McAfee delivers a spellbinding tale exploring the price artists, and especially female artists, must pay to achieve their ambitions, with issues of sexual politics, marriage, and children folded into the mix. Highly recommended and an exceptional choice for discussion groups.

Bottled Goods

Drawing on Romanian folklore and a few touches of magic realism, this novella-in-flash-fiction by the Romanian-born van Llewyn is a wonder. Long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The Bad Muslim Discount

A born storyteller, Masood has crafted a fast-paced page-turner with plenty of insightful commentary on religion, family, love, and national politics in this debut novel that is expertly written and a joy to read; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 5/6/20.]

Zero Zone

After finishing this cinematic novel, some readers will be compelled to start again at page one to discover how O’Connor (A Perfect Universe) pieces together his suspenseful, incredibly well-written narrative and to contemplate the artworks described.

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