Fiction

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Real Life
Taylor, Brandon. Real Life. New York: Riverhead Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A novel of rare emotional power that excavates the social intricacies of a late-summer weekend – and a lifetime of buried pain. Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends – some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with a young straight man, conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community"–
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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Vuong, Ocean. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. New York: Penguin Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Brilliant, heartbreaking, tender, and highly original - poet Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born–a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam–and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity"–
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Lot: Stories
Washington, Bryan. Lot: Stories. New York: Riverhead Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys. Around him, others live and thrive and die in Houston's myriad neighborhoods: a young woman whose affair detonates across an apartment complex, a ragtag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, hurricane survivors, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, a reluctant chupacabra. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot explores trust and love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms." (Publisher's description)
Memorial
Washington, Bryan. Memorial. New York: Riverhead Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant. Benson is a Black day care teacher. They've been together for a few years, but now they're not sure why they're still a couple. There's the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other. When Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Houston for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he discovers the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together, but their time together ends up meaning more than they ever could have predicted. As both men change, will it make them stronger together, or fracture everything they've ever known? -- adapted from jacket

Winter in the Blood
Welch, James. Winter in the Blood. Penguin classics. New York: Penguin, 2008. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Narrated by a young Native American living on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana, Winter in the Blood is the story of a man living out the tragedy of his people. Intelligent, sensitive, and self-destructive, he is haunted by the untimely deaths of his father and older brother and the shards of his once proud heritage. He sleepwalks through his days working on his stepfather's cattle ranch and consoles himself with alcohol and women. An ironic epiphany provides a tie to the vast land of his ancestors and an alternative to despair.
The Nickel Boys
Whitehead, Colson. The Nickel Boys. New York: Doubleday, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
" As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men." In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy." (Publisher's summary)
Written on the Body
Winterson, Jeanette. Written on the Body. New York: Vintage, 1994. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

From the cover:

The most beguilingly seductive novel to date from the author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Winterson chronicles the consuming affair between the narrator, who is given neither name nor gender, and the beloved, a complex and confused married woman.

"At once a love story and a philosophical meditation."--New York Times Book Review.

Carpentaria
Wright, Alexis. Carpentaria. New York: Atria International, 2006. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Steeped in myth and magical realism, this story exposes the heartbreaking realities of Aboriginal life as indigenous tribes fight to protect their natural resources, sacred sites, and above all, their people.
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A Little Life
Yanagihara, Hanya. A Little Life. New York: Anchor Books, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
A Little Life follows four college classmates-broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara's stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.
Interior Chinatown
Yu, Charles. Interior Chinatown. New York: Vintage, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Every day Willis Wu leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He's a bit player here too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy-- and he sees his life as a script. After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he has ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family, and what that means for him in today's America." -- from publisher's description.
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How Much of These Hills Is Gold
Zhang, C. Pam. How Much of These Hills Is Gold. New York: Riverhead Books, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape-trying not just to survive but to find a home. Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future. Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and reimagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it's about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home."

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