Release date: 09/01/2008
Superb prose and psychological insights distinguish Loehfelm's debut. Because Staten Island bartender John Sanders Jr. was regularly physically abused as a child by his father, he reacts at first with indifference to the news that John Senior has been killed, execution style, by an unknown assailant. The death has a greater impact on Sanders's sister, Julia, who returns from Boston to make the necessary arrangements and to attempt to reconnect with her brother to create some sense of family from their mutual childhood trauma. While Sanders channels some of his frustration and anger into a search for answers, the emphasis is on family relationships rather than mystery solving. Loehfelm excels in making Staten Island itself a palpable presence, brilliantly evoking the reek of the world's largest landfill that gives the novel its name, as well as the despair of the local residents. (Aug. 21) Note: Loehfelm is the winner of Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award, a contest in which PW reviewed manuscript submissions.