Fiction

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Friday Black
Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame. Friday Black. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

 "An excitement and a wonder: strange, crazed, urgent and funny...The wildly talented Adjei-Brenyah has made these edgy tales immensely charming, via his resolute, heartful, immensely likeable narrators, capable of seeing the world as blessed and cursed at once." -- George Saunders

"This book is dark and captivating and essential...A call to arms and a condemnation. Adjei-Brenyah offers powerful prose as parable. The writing in this outstanding collection will make you hurt and demand your hope. Read this book." -- Roxane Gay

A piercingly raw debut story collection from a young writer with an explosive voice; a treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it's like to be young and black in America. From the start of this extraordinary debut, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country. These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In "The Finkelstein Five," Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unforgettable reckoning of the brutal prejudice of our justice system. In "Zimmer Land," we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And "Friday Black" and "How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King" show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all. Entirely fresh in its style and perspective, and sure to appeal to fans of Colson Whitehead, Marlon James, and George Saunders, Friday Black confronts readers with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope.

A treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it's like to be young and black in America. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country. Readers are left with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope." -- adapted from info provided

Bastard Out of Carolina
Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina. New York: Plume, 1993. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Bone, an illegitimate child in a family of social outcasts, sees her mother's happiness with her new husband and will not tell when the stepfather begins abusing her in the 1950s.
Salt Houses
Alyan, Hala. Salt Houses, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past, between displacement and home ... On the eve of her daughter Alia's wedding, Salma reads the girl's future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is up rooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967. Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia's brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can't escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Soon Alia's children begin families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities. Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand--one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can't go home again"-- Provided by publisher.
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The Gone Dead
Benz, Chanelle. The Gone Dead. New York: Ecco, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Billie James' inheritance isn't much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day, and she hasn't been back to the South since. Thirty years later, Billie returns but her father's home is unnervingly secluded: her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger."--Book cover flap.
The Runaways
Bhutto, Fatima. The Runaways. London, New York: Verso, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Anita lives in Karachi's biggest slum. Her mother is a maalish wali, paid to massage the tired bones of rich women. But Anita's life will change forever when she meets her elderly neighbour, a man whose shelves of books promise an escape to a different world. On the other side of Karachi lives Monty, whose father owns half the city and expects great things of him. But when a beautiful and rebellious girl joins his school, Monty will find his life going in a very different direction. Sunny's father left India and went to England to give his son the opportunities he never had. Yet Sunny doesn't fit in anywhere. It's only when his charismatic cousin comes back into his life that he realises his life could hold more possibilities than he ever imagined. These three lives will cross in the desert, a place where life and death walk hand in hand, and where their closely guarded secrets will force them to make a terrible choice" -- Publisher description.

Go Home!
Buchanan, Rowan Hisayo, ed. Go Home!. First Feminist Press edition. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Asian diasporic writers imagine "home" in the twenty-first century through an array of fiction, memoir, and poetry."
Lilith's Brood
Butler, Octavia E. Lilith's Brood. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2000. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Lilith Lyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected, by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: Their own children. This is their story."

Parable of the Sower
Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"In 2025 California, an eighteen-year-old African American woman, suffering from a hereditary trait that causes her to feel others' pain as well as her own, flees northward from her small community and its desperate savages." -- (Source of summary not specified)

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Little Reef and Other Stories
Carroll, Michael. Little Reef and Other Stories. Madison, WI: Terrace Books, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"From Key West to Maine, this collection of stories depicts the lives of characters who are no longer provincial but are not yet cosmopolitan. These women and their gay male friends are B-listers of a new, ironic, media-soaked culture. They live in a rich but increasingly divided America, a weirdly paradoxical country increasingly accepting of gay marriage but still marked by prejudice, religious strictures, and swaths of poverty and hopelessness. Carroll shows us people stunned by the shock of the now, who have forgotten their pasts and can't envision a future."

Stella Maris: & Other Key West Stories
Carroll, Michael. Stella Maris: & Other Key West Stories. Brooklyn, NY: Turtle Point Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"When Cuban fisherman first spotted the Key West lighthouse floating in Florida waters, they called her Stella Maris, Star of the Sea. It's a beacon that draws people from everywhere seeking the end-of-the-line bohemian oasis that can still be found amidst the condo share towers, chain stores, and Redneck Riviera clientele. And it's a mecca for gay men and the women who love them. Sue Kaufman Prize-winning author Michael Carroll knows the territory intimately. His stories wind in and out of the bars and guesthouses and lives of this singular paradise: a memorial for a drag queen held at the vicar's Victorian leads to uneasy encounters; two southern sisters on a cruise ship holiday are up against the ravages of alcohol, estrangement, and deadly weather. Newly divorced gay men (already a phenomenon) lick their wounds and bask in the island's lasting social twilight. At the all-male, clothing-optional resort, guys of all ages fall into one another's paths, enjoy themselves as they please, and surprise one another on their views and preconceptions. Stella Maris is about the verities of illness and death. The past and its prisoners, AIDS, the young and not so young man's realization of his own mortality. It's about the unpredictable nature of life, and of survival. It's about new beginnings and final recognitions."--Amazon.com.
Your House Will Pay
Cha, Steph. Your House Will Pay. New York: Ecco, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it's been since the unrest of the early 1990s. But Grace Park and Shawn Matthews have their own problems. Grace is sheltered and largely oblivious, living in the Valley with her Korean-immigrant parents, working long hours at the family pharmacy. She's distraught that her sister hasn't spoken to their mother in two years, for reasons beyond Grace's understanding. Shawn has already had enough of politics and protest after an act of violence shattered his family years ago. He just wants to be left alone to enjoy his quiet life in Palmdale. But when another shocking crime hits LA, both the Park and Matthews families are forced to face down their history while navigating the tumult of a city on the brink of more violence"-- Amazon.com
Bestiary
Chang, K-Ming. Bestiary. New York: One World, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"One evening, Ma tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman's body, named Hu Gu Po. She hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt leaves red on everything she touches; another aunt arrives with eels in her belly. All the while, Daughter is falling for her neighbor, a girl named Ben with mysterious powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother's letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies an old Taiwanese myth–and that she will have to bring her family's secrets to light in order to change their destiny. With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the magical realist aesthetic of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family's history from Mainland China to Taiwan, from Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages, and womanhood"– provided by publisher.

The Water Dancer
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. The Water Dancer. New York: One World, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
 "Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage -- and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child -- but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn't understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram's private rebellion. Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he's ever known. So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia's proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind -- but to do so, he must first master his magical gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss."-- Provided by publisher.
Waiting for the Waters to Rise
Condé, Maryse, and Richard Philcox. Waiting for the Waters to Rise. New York: World Editions, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Babakar is a doctor living alone, with only the memories of his childhood in Mali. In his dreams, he receives visits from his blue-eyed mother and his ex-lover Azelia, both now gone, as are the hopes and aspirations he's carried with him since his arrival in Guadeloupe. Until, one day, the child Anaïs comes into his life, forcing him to abandon his solitude."--Back cover
I Wished
Cooper, Dennis. I Wished. New York, NY: Soho Press, Inc. 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"For most of his life, Dennis Cooper believed the person he had loved the most and would always love above all others was George Miles. In his first novel in ten years, Dennis Cooper writes about George Miles, love, loss, addiction, suicide, and how fiction can capture these things, and how it fails to capture them. Candid and powerful, I Wished is a radical work of shifting forms. It includes appearances by Santa Claus, land artist James Turrell, sentient prairie dogs, John Wayne Gacy, Nick Drake, and George, the muse for Cooper's acclaimed novels Closer, Frisk, Try, Guide, and Period, collectively known as "The George Miles Cycle." In revisiting the inspiration for the Cycle, Dennis has written a masterwork: the most raw, personal, and haunted book of his career"-- Provided by publisher.
American Dirt
Cummins, Jeanine. American Dirt. First U.S. edition. New York: Flatiron Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"También de este lado hay sueños. Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. Even though she knows they'll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy-two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia's husband's tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same. Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia-trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier's reach doesn't extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to? American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed when they finish reading it. A page-turner filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page, it is a literary achievement."– provided by publisher.
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Patsy
Dennis-Benn, Nicole. Patsy. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A Jamaican woman leaves her daughter behind to immigrate to New York, where the happier life she expected is difficult to find as an undocumented worker." -- adapted from jacket description.

"When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, she looks forward leaving Pennyfield, the beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where they were raised. Her plans don't include her overzealous, evangelical mother-- or her own five-year-old daughter, Tru. When Patsy arrives in Brooklyn, she survives as an undocumented immigrant, working as a bathroom attendant and nanny. Meanwhile, Tru builds a faltering relationship with her father back in Jamaica, grappling with her own questions of identity and sexuality, and trying desperately to empathize with her mother's decision." -- adapted from jacket
Spit Baths
Downs, Greg. Spit Baths. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"With a reporter's eye for the inside story and a historian's grasp of the ironies in our collective past, Greg Downs affectionately observes some of the last survivors of what Greil Marcus has called the old, weird America. Living off the map and out of sight, folks like Embee, Rudy, Peg, and Branch define themselves by where they are, not by what they eat, drink, or wear.

The man who is soon to abandon his family in "Ain't I a King, Too?" is mistaken for the populist autocrat of Louisiana, Huey P. Long--on the day after Long's assassination. In "Hope Chests," a history teacher marries his student and takes her away from a place she hated, only to find that neither one of them can fully leave it behind. An elderly man in "Snack Cakes" enlists his grandson to help distribute his belongings among his many ex-wives, living and dead. In the title story, another intergenerational family tale, a young boy is caught in a feud between his mother and grandmother. The older woman uses the language of baseball to convey her view of religion and nobility to her grandson before the boy's mother takes him away, maybe forever.

Caught up in pasts both personal and epic, Downs's characters struggle to maintain their peculiar, grounded manners in an increasingly detached world."

Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas
Dumas, Henry. Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas. Second edition. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
 "Championed by Toni Morrison and Walter Mosley, Dumas's fabulist fiction is a masterful synthesis of myth and religion, culture and nature, mask and identity. From the Deep South to the simmering streets of Harlem, his characters embark on real, magical, and mythic quests. Humming with life, Dumas's stories create a collage of midcentury Black experiences, interweaving religious metaphor, African cosmologies, diasporic folklore, and America's history of slavery and systemic racism. Henry Dumas was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, in 1934 and moved to Harlem at the age of ten. He joined the air force in 1953 and spent a year on the Arabian Peninsula. Upon his return, Dumas became active in the civil rights movement, married, had two sons, attended Rutgers University, worked for IBM, and taught at Hiram College in Ohio and at Southern Illinois University. In 1968, at the age of thirty-three, he was shot and killed by a New York City Transit Authority police officer."--Amazon.com.
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Washington Black
Edugyan, Esi. Washington Black. New York: Vintage Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born. When his master's eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or "Titch," is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist. He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash's head, Titch abandons everything to save him. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life."

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