Stephen Schmidt

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The Innocents

Similar to Crummey’s Sweetland as it delves into the minutiae of life on a northerly island, this novel can be tough going at times, but fans of narrative travel writing will appreciate Crummey’s descriptive flourishes. The relentless bleakness is alleviated by the cinematic depiction of the surrounding wilderness, with Crummey’s prose recalling that of Jim Crace in its strange, archaic terminology and sense of timelessness, and the conclusion is strangely moving.

The Water Dancer

Coates cites Toni Morrison and E.L. Doctorow as huge influences in writing this book, and the scope and seriousness on display here would make them both proud. The author can be didactic, unable to escape the weight of his message, but when he allows the action to unfold, the story becomes a work of wonder. Essential for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]


The novel’s global range is impressive and the interconnected stories and overall tone will appeal to readers who enjoyed Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.]

The Organs of Sense

Great fun and notable for its singular style, playful tone, and sense of economy (Sachs covers a huge amount of ground in just over 200 pages), this impressive debut is for fans of George Saunders and Vladimir Nabokov. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/18.]



Distinctive in his look at Iraq, Murphy can also be strident as he touches upon foreign intervention, gun control, Far Right conspiracy theorists, the taboo of being gay in the Middle East and much more. How readers view the book may depend on how they feel about these issues themselves. [See Prepub Alert, 11/19/18.]

The Electric Hotel

Smith tries to cover too much territory, but Ballard is finely rendered, and there are quite a few edge-of-your-seat moments. Recommended to fans of Graham Moore's The Last Days of Night and Amor Towles's The Gentleman from Moscow. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]

Outside Looking In

While it may be hard to get behind many of the deeply flawed characters, there is much to learn and enjoy here, as Boyle takes us deep inside the lives of Leary and his convention-bashing acolytes, offering a brisk read that provides much food for thought. Boyle fans will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 8/15/18.]

99 Nights in Logar

While the writing is beautiful throughout, this novel ultimately asks a lot of the reader. Its chimerical nature may be a bit off-putting, and several scenes of animal cruelty can be tough to read. Still, libraries specializing in world literature will want to have this on hand as a fine example of the meeting of modern and traditional storytelling. [See Prepub Alert, 7/9/18.]

Killing Commendatore

Those familiar with the author's inventive writing will certainly devour this, as will readers seeking challenging and thoughtful fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 4/30/18.]

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