Exploring the art of prose


New books: week of April 9!

Here’s a quick look at some of the great books out this week. Happy pub day to all!


Therese Bohman, Eventide
Other Press

From Kirkus Reviews: “A perceptive novel about early-middle-age angst as an art history professor realizes the constraints on her sexual and professional lives. Karolina Andersson seems to have, if not the perfect life, at least a lot more to be contented with than to be dissatisfied over. She’s a professor at the University of Stockholm and has a rich intellectual life as well as interesting colleagues. But, now in her early 40s, she’s coming off a failed long-term relationship and feels restless and disaffected… Bohman (The Other Woman, 2016, etc.) is an adroit novelist with deep insights into the mind and heart of Karolina, a complex character whose restlessness, irresolution, and search for meaning make every one of her actions, both hesitancies and uncertainties, plausible and psychologically rich. Intelligent, impassioned, and compelling, Bohman’s latest explores complex inner worlds with great sensitivity and insight.”


Jez Burrows, Dictionary Stories

From Kirkus Reviews: “An A to Z collection of atmospheric short stories composed entirely of example sentences from dictionaries. Designer and illustrator Burrows turns an artist’s eye to these delicate, intricately constructed microfictions. It started, he explains in the introduction, with a single line, culled from the definition of “study” in the New Oxford American Dictionary: “He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery.” With rules about the kinds of tiny edits he could make (changing pronouns, adding conjunctions, etc.), he set about assembling short stories from the bones of example sentences. Without forcing them, he achieves a remarkably diverse set of tales, assembling them much as one would a puzzle, finding which pieces fit together and then organizing them under general subject headings such as “apocalypse, the,” “gossip,” and “optimism.”…The stories are wickedly short but exquisitely rendered, accompanied by whimsical, minimalist illustrations by the author. A fabulist remix of the English language and a tribute to clever lexicographers everywhere.”

Watch a trailer.
Read excerpts here.


Madeline Miller, Circe
Little, Brown

From Publishers Weekly: “Miller follows her impressive debut (The Song of Achilles) with a spirited novel about Circe’s evolution from insignificant nymph to formidable witch best known for turning Odysseus’s sailors into swine. Her narrative begins with a description of growing up the awkward daughter of Helios, the sun god. She does not discover her gift for pharmakeia (the art of using herbs and spells) until she transforms her first love, a poor fisherman, into a god… Weaving together Homer’s tale with other sources, Miller crafts a classic story of female empowerment. She paints an uncompromising portrait of a superheroine who learns to wield divine power while coming to understand what it means to be mortal.”

Watch Miller read an excerpt.


Jo Nesbø, Macbeth
Hogarth Shakespeare

From Publishers Weekly: “In this ambitious entry in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, bestseller Nesbø (The Thirst and 10 other Harry Hole novels) transmutes Macbeth into a crime novel set in 1970s Scotland. Macbeth heads the SWAT team in a dreary city called Capitol, determined to take down criminal gangs and to clean up the corrupt local government, a goal shared by Duncan, Capitol’s upstanding police chief… The themes will resonate well with contemporary readers, but, at nearly 500 pages, the story feels bloated. It’s a clever reengineering of one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies, but may disappoint Nesbø’s fan base.”

Watch Nesbø discuss the book.


Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Heads of the Colored People
37 Ink/Atria

From Kirkus Reviews: “A bold new voice, at once insolently sardonic and incisively compassionate, asserts itself amid a surging wave of young African-American fiction writers. In her debut story collection, Thompson-Spires flashes fearsome gifts for quirky characterization, irony-laden repartee, and edgy humor. All these traits are evident in a epistolary narrative entitled “Belles Lettres,” which tells its story through a series of increasingly snarky notes exchanged between two African-American mothers via the backpacks of their young daughters, the only two black students in their class at a California private school, who are engaged in some stressful and, at times, physical conflict with each other…It seems difficult for even the most experienced storyteller to achieve an appealing balance of astringency and poignancy, and yet Thompson-Spires hits that balance repeatedly, whether in the darkly antic “Suicide, Watch,” in which an especially self-conscious young woman named Jilly struggles with how best to commit suicide (and to tell her friends about it on social media), or in the deeply affecting “Wash Clean the Bones,” whose churchgoing protagonist struggles with her soul over whether she should raise her newborn son in a racist society. In an era when writers of color are broadening the space in which class and culture as well as race are examined, Thompson-Spires’ auspicious beginnings auger a bright future in which she could set new standards for the short story.”

Read an interview with Thompson-Spires.
Read “Whisper to a Scream.”