Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
And the Girls Worried Terribly

Dot Devota. Noemi (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-934819-32-6

..
Devota's rhapsodic, much-anticipated debut packs so much tension, unsettling exuberance, and rigor into its lines that each poem feels ready to burst off the page. Whether "facing the self that cannot be identified" or "wearing heavy metals as two-bit cannibals emerge," Devota retains a white-hot pitch where anger, jubilee, disgust, hilarity, and dismay smolder together in the same stanzas. Pursued by an unnamed dread—and intensified by mid-line enjambments that both accelerate and give them pause—Devota's poems are also startlingly optimistic in their willingness to relinquish control of the poem to the lines themselves: "From a pile of rubble," she writes, "grass grows water streams through/ people stay buried, light cannot/ be unrecognizable/ we think/ we forget it/ actually is, literally, other worldly." The self in conflict with itself is Devota's battleground, where we remain "the body in the bag/ and the dilemma of dragging it"; just as we attempt to get closer to ourselves through others, we find that "you are my life you ruined." The danger of this double bind is beautifully addressed in the book's final poem, where Devota warns us that if we give away the body and relinquish the self, "it will/ turn out you/ miss having a place to visit." (Dec.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Other Side of Midnight

Simone St. James. NAL, $14 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-451-41949-1

..
St. James (The Haunting of Maddy Clare) stages a thoroughly gripping murder mystery in the spiritualist world of 1920s London. Ellie Winter and her mother were well-known mediums until they were discredited by psychic researcher James Hawley. Since her mother's death, Ellie has kept a low profile as a finder of "lost things." But the murder of Gloria Sutter, a famous psychic and Ellie's onetime friend, brings back more than memories. Gloria's brother, George, wants Ellie to investigate her death. James warns Ellie not to trust George—and offers his own help. Under increasing pressure from George and the unnerving interest of Scotland Yard, Ellie fears she's losing what little psychic ability she has. Each secret she and James uncover brings them closer to the truth, and deeper into danger as dark family history is revealed. St. James's intense story drips with atmosphere and emotion. Set in the time between world wars when spiritualist belief ran high, this briskly paced mystery offers action, romance, and a puzzle that proves talking to the dead isn't a game—and can be deadly. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Buddha's Return

Gaito Gazdanov, trans. from the Russian by Bryan Karetnyk. Pushkin (pushkinpress.com), $18 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-78227-059-1

..
Gadzanov's previous novel to be translated into English, The Spectre of Alexander Wolf, a masterly Dostoevskian and noir-ish narrative of doubled identities, turns out to have only been a taste of the dizzying strangeness to which this novel ascends. A troubled student experiences a crisis and "dies,"only to be arrested by a mysterious—and dysfunctional—bureaucracy working for the "Central State." Released into the nightlife of Paris, the unnamed student becomes acquainted, and eventually obsessed, with one Pavel Alexandrovich Scherbakov, a former beggar who has become a glamorous arriviste. Together, they spend nights discussing philosophy, religion, and literature—but Pavel Alexandrovich retains connections from the Paris criminal underworld and is drawn into the schemes of Zina and Lida, a vicious mother-daughter team, even as the student begins to be visited by an enigmatic lieutenant calling himself the Gentleman, who insinuates that there may be more than lucky accident behind Pavel Alexandrovich's change in fortune. When Pavel Alexandrovich is murdered—and his prize golden Buddha stolen—the Central State takes the student into custody as the perpetrator; but at this juncture, it's not even clear who is dead, who is living, and where the cycle of betrayal and mistaken identity will end. This is an excellent novel by any standard, and especially remarkable for joining the philosophical underpinnings of the Russians with the intrigue of a French thriller. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
She Will Build Him a City

Raj Kamal Jha. Bloomsbury, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62040-904-6

..
Jha (Fireproof) constructs a surreal study of the longing and loneliness of three nameless characters in a world that shifts between menacing and romantic, comical and violent, demonic and endearing. Woman is confronted with her daughter's sudden return home; Man comes undone in a nightmarish descent into desire and violence; and Child, an abandoned baby boy, is adored by a TB-stricken nurse and sheltered by a contingent of animals and spirits. The return of Woman's daughter exposes secrets hidden after the death of Woman's husband—and the daughter's heartbreaking grief and disastrous affair. "Whatever happened to me... whatever happens to us from now on doesn't matter to anyone except us," Woman says about her reunion with her daughter. Yet their reconciliation is linked by a cascade of unintended consequences to Child's uncertain future, which triggers the desires and dreams of everyone around him, and Man's erotic, murderous obsession with a "Balloon Girl." Jha's dense, evocative tales of urban India are mesmerizing and magical. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Lost Child

Caryl Phillips. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-19137-5

..
Phillips (A Distant Shore) spins a disturbing and tragic tale of a broken family in the north of England, sprawling across time and generations, and drawing inspiration from Wuthering Heights. The story begins by the docks of Liverpool as a seven-year-old boy "hovers protectively over his afflicted mother," a woman haunted by her time in the West Indian fields, abandoned by her lovers, and now nearing death. This ghastly introduction telegraphs a difficult path ahead in the modern story of Monica Johnson, a willful young Oxford University student, who rushes from her bully of a father, Ronald, an officious school master, into a marriage and children with Julius Wilson, an older history graduate student on a scholarship from his home country, an unnamed Carribbean island. The point of view shifts among Monica and her three children as the characters attempt to connect despite their self-destructive tendencies, notably anger sublimated into pride. Philips's use of not only the story of Heathcliff and Mr. Earnshaw but of the complicated home life of the Brontë sisters and their beloved failure of a brother will appeal to lovers of their canon. But, as well realized and evocative this story is, it's more gloom than romance on the moors. The book reverberates with pain and dislocation more gothic than any howling ghost. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Meeting the English

Kate Clanchy. St. Martin's/Dunne, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-05977-2

..
In this trenchant debut novel, poet and memoirist Clanchy (Antigona and Me) reveals her humor, humanity, and striking facility with language amid potentially tragic events. The felling of a onetime famous playwright, Phillip Prys, by a stroke in his London home mirrors the dismantling of authoritarian world powers in 1989. Earnest and sensitive 17-year-old Struan Robertson, persuaded by his English teacher to apply for a position as Phillip's caretaker, travels from central Scotland to meet Phillip's dysfunctional family—his children, Juliet and Jake; their mother, Myfanwy; and his current wife, Shirin—whose compassion for Phillip varies. The summer is exceptionally hot, and while their elders struggle variously to adjust to Phillip's incapacity, the younger generation is in heat. By the novel's end, all the characters have faced trials that uncover inner tenderness. Clanchy shifts the narrative perspective among Struan, Phillip, Juliet, and Myfanwy, interlacing poignant analogy, vivid description, and nuanced characterization with arresting metaphor. A glossary of English slang would be useful for most American readers, but this novel will amuse and captivate regardless. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
In Wilderness

Diane Thomas. Bantam, $26 hardcover (320p) ISBN 978-0-8041-7695-8

..
Thomas (The Year the Music Changed) writes hauntingly of obsession and survival in this dark, unusual love story set in the 1960s. Ad exec Katherine Reid, after contracting a mysterious and seemingly terminal illness, leaves her old life behind and moves into a mountain cabin with a sleeping bag, a few personal items, and a gun, determined to live what's left of her life in solitude. However, she doesn't count on meeting Danny, a young Vietnam vet and former college student who comes back from his time in combat irreparably damaged, and suffering from what today would be diagnosed as severe post-traumatic stress. Danny, who lives in an abandoned house nearby, rapidly becomes dangerously obsessed with Katherine, who at first is not sure what to make of the young man who appears in her front yard one day. As the two interact, passion quickly flares—but it could have deadly consequences. As the author moves her characters through the seasons of 1966, 1967, and 1968, she offers a deep and unforgettable look into how tragedy and madness can shape lives. Written from the points of view of two suffering people, the story takes on an almost surreal, lyrical quality. Riveting and raw. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Forgiveness 4 You

Ann Bauer. Overlook, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 9781468310238

..
Former Catholic priest Gabriel McKenna is working in a bookstore when advertising executive Madeline Murray walks in. Like most people who meet him, she feels compelled to confess her sins. When Gabe helps her come to terms with her guilt, she decides that he has a natural talent for absolution, and thinks of a brilliant marketing scheme—forgiveness for hire—but is unaware that Gabe's own hidden sins might implicate the business. Gabe's first-person narrative is interspersed with the electronic missives of Madeline's staff and their particularly delightful "marketing" material (sample tagline: "Expert Exonerations for Everyday Sins"). Bauer (Forever Marriage) has hit upon a thought-provoking concept: Can confession and absolution function in a non-religious setting? Can absolution be purchased and, if so, from whom? But though the concept itself reaches towards the literary, the novel reads more like the steamy romances Gabe sells at the bookstore. Creative takes on confession and forgiveness (quoting everything from Oscar Wilde to, of course, the Bible) drown in unbelievable and cliché-filled prose. The great idea and solid plot wish for better writing quality to match. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Epitaph

Mary Doria Russell. Ecco, $27.99 (592p) ISBN 978-0-06-219876-1

..
This isn't your great-grandfather's O.K. Corral. Russell (Doc) breathes new life into the well-worn western saga of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday's infamous shoot-out in the Arizona Territory town of Tombstone, largely by using as its entry point the story of Josie Marcus, who escapes her Jewish immigrant family in San Francisco to become a performer. She ends up in Tombstone as the lover of Johnny Behan, sheriff of Cochise County. This brings her to the attention of Wyatt Earp, a deputy marshal who is Behan's rival for political power. Josie loses interest in Behan and falls in love with Wyatt. All things eventually converge with the 30-second shootout at the O.K. Corral with a gang of cattle rustlers known as the Cow Boys. In the aftermath, Wyatt rides out on a quest for revenge. Although the gunfight itself plays almost as an anti-climax, Russell dramatizes how the bloody events of October 26, 1881, echo through western legend as Wyatt moves on to the Alaskan goldfields, and then to Hollywood in the 1920s to have his biography written. Drawing its title from the name of Tombstone's leading newspaper, this novel does indeed function as the last word for a western sense of justice and vengeance. This novel is a raucously Hogarthian depiction of how the West was truly lived. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Life of a Counterfeiter

Yasushi Inoue, trans. from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich. Pushkin Press (pushkinpress.com), $18 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-78227-002-7

..
The three powerful stories collected here were written by Inoue in the years following WWII, giving readers a nuanced glimpse of the postwar psyche. The title story is a masterly meditation on fate and obscurity. A journalist who has been comissioned to write the biography of the great artist Keigaku is drawn into the story of Keigaku's most sucessful counterfeiter, Hara Hosen. WWII acts as a framework for the journalist's own life, and readers track the subtle change in his perception of the world and Hosen through the blithe pre-war years, the grim descent to surrender, and the difficult years that followed. In "Reeds," the narrator uses three vivid childhood memories to ponder the intersection of memory and perception. How can a single moment hold so much weight, while the adults involved in the memory have no recollection of the scene? In "Mr. Goodall's Gloves," the same narrator thinks back on his great-grandfather's mistress, Grandma Kano, who raised him. He remembers her kindness fondly, but his reflection is colored by the awareness that her lowly status as a mistress in a morally strict environment must have made for an isolated life. Inoue's prose is simple without being austere, a perfect vehicle for these beautiful stories full of pathos for those lonely souls who live in the shadows. This haunting, elegiac trio makes clear Inoue's position as a Japanese literary master. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/27/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.