Joy Humphrey

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Fates and Furies

Like a classic tragedy, Groff's novel offers high drama, hubris, and epic love, complete with Greek chorus-like asides. A singular and compelling literary read, populated with extraordinary characters; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/16/15.]

The Beautiful Bureaucrat

Suspenseful, creepy, and distinct, this work is sparse in style but elaborate in wordplay. For readers who like their literary fiction with a side of sf. [See Prepub Alert, 2/23/15.]

Flood of Fire

Filled with politics and personal struggles, sex and sea battles, this suspenseful tale with well-researched detail and compelling characters will be of particular interest to fans of historical novels with a military focus. [See Prepub Alert, 3/2/15.]

The Given World

Riley tentatively connects with many characters and then loses them, and it is sometimes hard to keep track of all these downtrodden souls. There is a meaninglessness to Riley's experiences that don't seem to amount to anything in the end except a general exhaustion. However, debut novelist Palaia's prose is hypnotizing, and her fresh descriptions make the sadness portrayed bearable. This is a somber literary read but not without a dark beauty. [See Prepub Alert, 10/27/14.]

The Tusk That Did the Damage

Fascinating facts and fiction about elephants are presented, and James's gift for the side-by-side portrayal of different cultures is evident here, as in her previous books. The complexity of the issues involved make this a perfect book club choice. [See Prepub Alert, 9/29/14.]

Bonita Avenue

Published in Buwalda's native Holland in 2010, this award-winning debut novel is flat-out extraordinary. The rich layer of detail would be impressive when applied to one topic, but Buwalda creates multiple complex worlds around vastly different subjects: the porn industry, mathematics, music, and judo, among others. An outstanding literary suspense story that will appeal to a wide range of readers. [See Prepub Alert, 7/14/14.]

Welcome to Braggsville

Johnson's (Hold It 'Til It Hurts) observations about race are both piercing and witty, making this edgy novel so much more complex than a send-up of the South and liberal academe. Johnson is at his best when he's the most straightforward; chapters that take off in stream-of-consciousness Southern dialect unnecessarily confuse the story. But those with a love for linguistic romps will want to take on this literary dark comedy. [See Prepub Alert, 8/11/14.]

Above Us Only Sky

Young-Stone has written a novel that's both fanciful and brutally realistic, soaring as it does between angelic beings and heartless dictators. From America to Lithuania, from past to present, this is a heart-wrenching tale for literary fiction fans and particularly for readers interested in World War II.


Saramago's novel is a delightful creation of characters with universal appeal. Readers will want to explore his other works after reading this gem. [See Prepub Alert, 6/8/14.]

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