In this masterful novel of inheritance and loss, Sonya Chung (Long for This World) proves herself a worthy heir to Marguerite Duras, Hwang Sun-won, and James Salter. Spanning generations and divergent cultures, The Loved Ones maps the intimate politics of unlikely attractions, illicit love, and costly reconciliations. Charles Lee, the young African American patriarch of a biracial family, seeks to remedy his fatherless childhood in Washington, DC, by making an honorable choice when his chance arrives. Years later in the mid-1980s, uneasy and stymied in his marriage to Alice, he finds a connection with Hannah Lee, the teenage Korean American caregiver whose parents’ transgressive flight from tradition and war has left them shrouded in a cloud of secrets and muted passion. A shocking and senseless death will test every familial bond and force all who are touched by the tragedy to reexamine who their loved ones truly are–the very meaning of the words. Haunting, elliptical, and powerful, The Loved Ones deconstructs the world we think we know and shows us the one we inhabit.
“I would never witness anything interesting. I would never write anything beyond memos and flap copy and travel itineraries. I would simply love my wife and my daughters and hold them close and continue to take in meaningless midweek doubleheaders and mismanage the selling strategies of our midlist titles and ride along whatever middling currents I could manage until I washed up on some predictable shore.”
It’s the late Nineties on the Upper West Side and book publicist David Felb (née Felber, née Felberstein) can sense his world shrinking. He is stuck in the slow lane at “a venerable second-tier publishing house” and feeling the encroaching changes technology will bring as he struggles to maintain a bond with his wife and three young daughters. Into the void steps Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap, a tweed-clad, waxed-mustached nineteenth-century baseball legend with still impeccable timing who died penniless and obscure and seems to need something from Felb. Or is it the other way around? Felb dutifully goes to weekly psychiatrist appointments at his wife’s insistence, but when his hard-to-reach baseball-mad teenage daughter develops her own fascination, he can feel a chance to recapture something lost.
Daniel Paisner’s enchanting new novel about neurosis, intimacy, and balancing familial needs while juggling two careers and the demands of modern life is also a charming and memorable parable about losing your mind and finding yourself in the age of anxiety.
On Bittersweet Place is the powerful coming-of-age story of Lena Czernitski, a young Russian Jew whose family flees their homeland in the Ukraine after the October Revolution. The story unfolds in Chicago during the Jazz Age of the 1920’s, where Lena’s impoverished family has settled and where she must traverse the early years of adolescence. Lena’s new world is large and beautiful and full of promise, but it is also cold and unwelcoming and laden with danger. Ronna Wineberg delivers a moving, universal story of family, self-discovery, young love, and the always relevant experience of the immigrant, the refugee, the outsider struggling to create a new home and a better life in an unfamiliar place.
In these collected stories of deeply human, flawed men and women in search of connection, consolation and better odds, Dallas Hudgens once again taps into the powerful and resonant view of ordinary lives made less so that has earned him national praise for his novels, Drive Like Hell and Season of Gene. In a Nation’s Capital fully occupied by the ninety-nine percent, going about the business of their lives, and in Detroit, Buffalo, Winnipeg, Oxnard and Tampa, life lays down its rhythm in dreams, promises and bills, the truth in neon light through the hazy smoke, and the telltale beat of inconstant hearts, foreclosures, and the everyday rigors of smoking, drinking, working, parenting, cheating, and praying that just one break could make it. America, down on her luck, ready for redemption, has never looked closer than this, or more like us.