Lawrence Rungren

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Wild Houses

A remarkably resonant portrait of everyday lives in Ireland. Barrett’s gritty and raucous first novel features the hallmarks of his acclaimed short story collections Homesickness (a New York Times Best Book) and Young Skins: linguistic dexterity in the service of fully realized characters and vivid depictions of hard-scrabble small-town Irish life.

The Enchanters

This novel shows that Ellroy is as captivating and undeniably readable as ever.

America Fantastica

O’Brien’s comic touch leavens what is at heart a grim vision of a society infiltrated by political lies that ultimately multiply until they come to fill the whole of American life.

Above the Fire

An extraordinary national disaster becomes a journey of bonding and healing for a father and son wounded by loss, in a work that is surprisingly tender given the terrifying adversity its main characters face.

Those We Thought We Knew

While the novel has several major characters, the fulcrum of the story is Det. Green, whose investigation forces her to confront the history and attitudes she has always conveniently ignored. The result is a powerful novel that pushes beyond Joy’s (When These Mountains Burn) rural noir to confront timely issues.

Be Mine: A Frank Bascombe Novel

While not the best of the four Bascombe novels (e.g., Let Me Be Frank with You), it is still a worthy conclusion to a series that ranks with Updike’s “Rabbit” novels for its incisive take on American life across several decades.

Gone to the Wolves

Wray deftly explores late adolescence with its roller-coaster intensity of friendship and the music that binds everything together, in this case heavy metal and its mythological fantasies, which here become all too darkly real.

A Broken People’s Playlist: Stories (from Songs)

Garricks’s Nigeria is a land broken by rapid change, and his characters have been broken psychologically and spiritually by it as well, living lives filled with longing and disappointment and seeking an ever-elusive redemption.

On the Savage Side

Narrated by the deceased Arc, McDaniel’s novel is by turns stark and poetic, a bleak and solemn elegy to lives that in another place and time might have been lived on the beautiful side. It’s also a tale of a nation unraveling, drowning in rivers of hopelessness and drug addiction.

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