Fiction

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Redeployment
Klay, Phil. Redeployment. New York: The Penguin Press, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Mortuary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains-of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming. Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation"– Provided by publisher.

Kitchen Curse: Stories
Kurniawan, Eka, Annie Tucker, Tiffany Tsao, Maggie Tiojakin, and Benedict R. O'G Anderson. Kitchen Curse: Stories. London: Verso, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Hailed as a Southeast Asian Gabriel Garcia Marquez for the exuberant beauty of his prose and the darkly comic surrealism of his stories, Eka Kurniawan is the first Indonesian writer to be nominated for a Man Booker Prize. Here is his first collection of short stories–Indonesian literature's characteristic form–to be translated into English. A man captures a caronang, a strange, intelligent dog that walks upright, and brings it home, only to provoke an all-too-human outcome. A girl plots against a witch doctor whose crimes against her are, infuriatingly, like any other man's. Eka Kurniawan's freewheeling imagination explores the turbulent dreams of an ex-prostitute, the hapless life of a perpetual student, victims of an anticommunist genocide, the travails of an elephant, even the vengeful fantasies of a stone. Dark, sexual, scatological, violent, and mordantly funny, these fractured fables span city and country, animal and human, myth and politics. Like nothing else, Kurniawan's stories bury themselves in the mind. His characters and insights are at once hauntingly familiar, peculiar, and twisted."–Publisher description
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Whereabouts: A Novel
Lahiri, Jhumpa. Whereabouts: A Novel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A marvelous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Lowland and Interpreter of Maladies–her first in nearly a decade. Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home, an engaging backdrop to her days, acts as a confidant: the sidewalks around her house, parks, bridges, piazzas, streets, stores, coffee bars. We follow her to the pool she frequents and to the train station that sometimes leads her to her mother, mired in a desperate solitude after her father's untimely death. In addition to colleagues at work, where she never quite feels at ease, she has girl friends, guy friends, and "him," a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. But in the arc of a year, as one season gives way to the next, transformation awaits. One day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun's vital heat, her perspective will change. This is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel she wrote in Italian and translated into English. It brims with the impulse to cross barriers. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement"– provided by publisher.
Interpreter of Maladies: Stories
Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies: Stories. Second Mariner Books edition. Boston: Mariner Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this stunning debut collection unerring charts the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations. In stories that travel from India to America and back again, Lahiri speaks with universal eloquence to everyone who has ever felt like a foreigner."–Provided by publisher.

The Other Americans
Lalami, Laila. The Other Americans. New York: Pantheon Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"From the Pulitzer Prize finalist, author of The Moor's Account–a timely and powerful new novel about the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant that is at once a family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story, all of it informed by the treacherous fault lines of American culture. Nora Guerraoui, a jazz composer, returns home to a small town in the Mojave after hearing that her father, owner of a popular restaurant there, has been killed in a suspicious hit-and-run car accident. Told by multiple narrators–Nora herself, Jeremy (the Iraq war veteran with whom she develops an intimacy), widow Maryam, Efrain (an immigrant witness to the accident who refuses to get involved for fear of deportation), Coleman (the police investigator), and Driss (the dead man himself), The Other Americans deftly explores one family's secrets and hypocrisies even as it offers a portrait of Americans riven by race, class, and religion, living side by side, yet ignorant of the vicissitudes that each tribe, as it were, faces" – provided by publisher.

Pachinko
Lee, Min Jin. Pachinko. First trade paperback edition. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. PACHINKO follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity"– provided by publisher.
The Topeka School
Lerner, Ben. The Topeka School. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of '97. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting 'lost boys' to open up. They both work at a psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. Adam is a renowned debater, expected to win a national championship before he heads to college. When a group of seniors bring loner Darren Eberheart into the social scene, Adam is unaware that Darren is one of his father's patients. When a disastrous event occurs, Adam feels partly responsible."--Provided by publisher.
The Paternity Test
Lowenthal, MIchael. The Paternity Test. Madison, WI: Terrace Books, 2012. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Having a baby to save a marriage--it's the oldest of cliches. But what if the marriage at risk is a gay one, and having a baby involves a surrogate mother? Pat Faunce is a faltering romantic, a former poetry major who now writes textbooks. A decade into his relationship with Stu, an airline pilot from a fraught Jewish family, he fears he's losing Stu to other men--and losing himself in their "no rules" arrangement. Yearning for a baby and a deeper commitment, he pressures Stu to move from Manhattan to Cape Cod, to the cottage where Pat spent boyhood summers. As they struggle to adjust to their new life, they enlist a surrogate: Debora, a charismatic Brazilian immigrant married to Danny, an American home rebuilder. Gradually, Pat and Debora bond, drawn together by the logistics of getting pregnant and away from their spouses. Pat gets caught between loyalties--to Stu and his family, to Debora, to his own potent desires--and wonders: is he fit to be a father? In one of the first novels to explore the experience of gay men seeking a child through surrogacy, Michael Lowenthal writes passionately about marriages and mistakes, loyalty and betrayal, and about how our drive to create families can complicate the ones we already have. The Paternity Test is a provocative look at the new "family values."" - publisher description.

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Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
Machado, Carmen Maria. Her Body and Other Parties: Stories. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Presents a collection of short stories about the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in 'Especially Heinous, ' Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes." --Adapted from publisher description.
What We Are: A Novel
Malae, Peter Nathaniel. What We Are: A Novel. New York: Grove/Atlantic, 2011. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"This novel of a young Samoan-American’s search for authenticity is “a rollercoaster ride inside the haunted house of American multi-cultural sin and shame” (Sherman Alexie). The twenty-eight-year-old mixed-race son of a Samoan immigrant, Paul Tusifale is desperate to find his place in an American culture that barely acknowledges his existence. Within the Silicon Valley landscape of grass-roots activists and dotcom headquarters, where the plight of migrant workers is ever-present, Paul drifts on and off the radar. An unemployed drifter who defiantly—even violently—defends those in need, Paul soon discovers that life as an urban Robin Hood will never provide the answers he seeks. So he decides to try the straight-and-narrow: getting a job, obeying the law, and reconnecting with his family. Along the way, Paul moves through the lives of sinister old friends, suburban cranksters, and septuagenarian swingers. A dynamic addition to America’s diverse literature of the outsider, What We Are brings to life the pull of a departed father’s homeland, the anger of class divisions, the noise of the evening news, and the pathos of the disengaged."
Where the Wild Ladies Are
Matsuda, Aoko, and Polly Barton. Where the Wild Ladies Are. First Soft Skull edition. New York: Soft Skull Press, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"In this witty and exuberant collection of linked stories, Aoko Matsuda takes the rich, millenia-old tradition of Japanese folktales-shapeshifting wives and foxes, magical trees and wells-and wholly reinvents them, presenting a world in which humans are consoled, guided, challenged, and transformed by the only sometimes visible forces that surround them. A busybody aunt who disapproves of hair removal; a pair of door-to-door saleswomen hawking portable lanterns; a cheerful lover who visits every night to take a luxurious bath; a silent house-caller who babysits and cleans while a single mother is out working. Where the Wild Ladies Are is populated by these and many other spirited women-who also happen to be ghosts. This is a realm in which jealousy, stubbornness, and other excessive "feminine" passions are not to be feared or suppressed, but rather cultivated; and, chances are, a man named Mr. Tei will notice your talents and recruit you, dead or alive (preferably dead), to join his mysterious company"– provided by publisher.
Quarantine: Stories
Mehta, Rahul. Quarantine: Stories. P.S. New York: Harper Perennial, 2011. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"With buoyant humor and incisive, cunning prose, Rahul Mehta sets off into uncharted literary territory. The characters in Quarantine--openly gay Indian-American men--are Westernized in some ways, with cosmopolitan views on friendship and sex, while struggling to maintain relationships with their families and cultural traditions. Grappling with the issues that concern all gay men--social acceptance, the right to pursue happiness, and the heavy toll of listening to their hearts and bodies--they confront an elder generation's attachment to old-country ways. Estranged from their cultural in-group and still set apart from larger society, the young men in these lyrical, provocative, emotionally wrenching, yet frequently funny stories find themselves quarantined."
A Place for Us
Mirza, Fatima Farheen. A Place for Us. First US edition. New York: SJP for Hogarth, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A story of family identity and belonging follows an Indian family through the marriage of their daughter, from the parents' arrival in the United States to the return of their estranged son. As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister's footsteps. And their estranged son, Amar, returns to the family for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride. What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture?" -- adapted from jacket.
The Speed of Dark
Moon, Elizabeth. The Speed of Dark. 1st ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 2013. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"An exploration into the world of an autistic man who is offered a chance to try a brand-new experimental 'cure' for his condition. He must decide if he should submit to a surgery that might completely change the way he views the world, and the very essence of who he is."
Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories
Morales, Jennifer. Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"When Johnquell, an African American teen, suffers a serious accident in the home of his white neighbor, Mrs. Czernicki, his community must find ways to bridge divisions between black and white, gay and straight, old and young. Set in one of the nation’s most highly segregated cities—Milwaukee, Wisconsin—Meet Me Halfway tells stories of connections in a community with a tumultuous and divided past. In nine stories told from diverse perspectives, Jennifer Morales captures a Rust Belt city’s struggle to establish a common ground and a collective vision of the future.

Morales gives life to multifaceted characters—white schoolteachers and senior citizens, Latino landlords, black and Puerto Rican teens, political activists, and Vietnam vets. As their lives unfold in these stories, we learn about Johnquell’s family—his grandparents’ involvement in the local Black Panther Party, his sister’s on-again, off-again friendship with a white classmate, and his aunt’s identity crisis as she finds herself falling in love with a woman. We also meet Johnquell’s mother, Gloria, and his school friend Taquan, who is struggling to chart his own future.

As an activist mother in the thick of Milwaukee politics, Morales developed a keen ear and a tender heart for the kids who have inherited the city’s troubled racial legacy. With a critical eye on promises unfulfilled, Meet Me Halfway raises questions about the notion of a “postracial” society and, with humor and compassion, lifts up the day-to-day work needed to get there."
The Bluest Eye
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume, 1994. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different. The story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, the tragic heroine of Toni Morrison's haunting first novel, grew out of her memory of a girlhood friend who wanted blue eyes. Shunned by the town's prosperous black families, as well as its white families, Pecola lives with her alcoholic father and embittered, overworked mother in a shabby two-room storefront that reeks of the hopeless destitution that overwhelms their lives. In awe of her clean well-groomed schoolmates, and certain of her own intense ugliness, Pecola tries to make herself disappear as she wishes fervently, desperately for the blue eyes of a white girl. In her afterward to this novel, Morrison writes of the little girl she once knew: "Beauty was not simply something to behold, it was something one could do. The Bluest Eye was my effort to say something about that; to say something about why she had not, or possibly never would have, the experience of what she possessed and also why she prayed for so radical an alteration. Implicit in her desire was racial self-loathing. And twenty-years later I was still wondering about how one learns that. Who told her? Who made her feel that it was better to be a freak that what she was? Who had looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale? The novel pecks away at the gaze that condemned her."

The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories
Motoya, Yukiko, and Asa Yoneda. The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories. First Soft Skull edition. New York: Soft Skull, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique, which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking commuters struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon, until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A saleswoman in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won't come out of the fitting room, and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her spouse's features are beginning to slide around his face to match her own. In these eleven stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien--and find a doorway to liberation. The English-language debut of one of Japan's most fearlessly inventive young writers"--Back cover.
Convenience Store Woman
Murata, Sayaka, and Ginny Tapley Takemori. Convenience Store Woman. First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition. New York: Grove Press, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers' style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society's expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko's contented stasis--but will it be for the better? Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko's thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind. Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amélie ." -- (Source of summary not specified).

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New Waves
Nguyen, Kevin. New Waves. New York: One World, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Lucas and Margo are fed up. Margo is a brilliant programmer tired of being talked over as the company's sole black employee, and while Lucas is one of many Asians at the firm, he's nearly invisible as a low-paid customer service rep. Together, they decide to steal their tech start-up's user database in an attempt at revenge. The heist takes a sudden turn when Margo dies in a car accident, and Lucas is left reeling, wondering what to do with their secret–and wondering whether her death really was an accident. When Lucas hacks into Margo's computer looking for answers, he is drawn into her secret online life and realizes just how little he knew about his best friend. With a fresh voice, biting humor, and piercing observations about human nature, Kevin Nguyen brings an insider's knowledge of the tech industry to this imaginative novel. A pitch-perfect exploration of race and start-up culture, secrecy and surveillance, social media and friendship, New Waves asks: How well do we really know each other? And how do we form true intimacy and connection in a tech-obsessed world?"–
Good Kings Bad Kings: A Novel
Nussbaum, Susan. Good Kings Bad Kings: A Novel. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
The residents at a facility for disabled young people in Chicago build trust and make friends in an effort to fight against their living conditions and mistreatment.

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