Literary Debut Novels from Award-Winning Authors | Fiction Previews, January 2019

Czapnik, Dana. The Falconer. Atria. Jan. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781501193224. $25. LITERARY Having done editorial work at numerous sports organizations, Czapnik won an Emerging Writers Fellowship from the Center for Fiction in 2017 and arrives with a novel featuring brash, streetwise 17-year-old Lucy. Often the only girl playing basketball on the public courts and crushing on wealthy best friend and pickup teammate Percy, Lucy would like to measure success by more than just dollars and romance, but it’s tough. Johnson, Daisy. Everything Under. Graywolf. Jan. 2019. 272p. ISBN 9781555978266. pap. $16. LITERARY Winner of the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Prize, among other awards, Oxford, England–based Johnson follows the short story collection Fen with a reenvisioning of the Oedipus myth. Her heroine, Gretel, was raised on a houseboat on Oxford’s canals by a mother who abandoned her when Gretel reached her teens, and now Gretel is trying to find her. That means facing the bonak, a creature living in the canal that embodies everything Gretel fears. Kochai, Jamil Jan. 99 Nights in Logar. Viking. Jan. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9780525559191. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780525559207. Downloadable. LITERARY It’s always persuasive to hear that a writer attended Iowa Writers’ Workshop, but Pakistan-born, California-raised Kochai is publishing his first novel even before graduating. When 12-year-old Marwand returns after six years to Afghanistan, he tries to befriend Budabash, the fearsome dog who, Cerberus-like, guards the family compound in Logar. Instead, Marwand loses a finger, Budabash escapes, and the 99-day hunt for him illuminates truths about Afghan society within a mythic framework. Mackintosh, Sophie. The Water Cure. Doubleday. Jan. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9780385543873. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385543880. Downloadable. LITERARY Winner of the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize and the 2016 Virago/Stylist Short Story competition, Mackintosh turns out dystopian feminist chills about three sisters living on an island and rigorously protected from the predations of mainland men by their father, the only man they’ve ever seen. Then he disappears shortly before two men and a boy wash ashore (making it past buoys and barbed wire), and the sisters must deal with sexual frisson, sibling rivalry, and real fear. Lots of buzz. Tshuma, Novuyo Rosa. House of Stone. Norton. Jan. 2019. 400p. ISBN 9780393635423. $26.95. LITERARY In Robert Mugabe’s tumultuous Zimbabwe, Zamani is so desperate to claim the couple he lodges with as his parents, having never known his own, that he lies to them about the whereabouts of their missing son and plies recovering alcoholic Abednego with whiskey to get him to tell stories of the past. Thus do we learn about the depredations of British colonization, the revolutionary fight that turned Rhodesia into Zimbabwe, and continuing unrest there even as we’re given a finely engraved portrait of obsession. Zimbabwe-born, Houston-based Tshuma won the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for her short story collection, Shadows. Vijay, Madhuri. The Far Field. Grove. Jan. 2019. 448p. ISBN 9780802128409. $27. LITERARY Pushcart Prize winner Vijay’s debut novel features Shalini, who leaves Bangalore for a high-in-the-sky Himalayan village in Kashmir, sensing that her mother’s recent death is linked to the decade-long absence of a charming Kashmiri salesman who used to visit the family frequently. When she gets there, she must instead confront Kashmir’s political turmoil and tensions within the village that force her to make momentous choices.

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