10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in October 2018

Clear your October calendar: this month is packed with tempting new novels and story collections.

Unsheltered
by Kingsolver, Barbara
Award-winning author Kingsolver presents yet another compelling story braced with social commentary and tethered to the natural world. Willa Knox’s family is struggling with debt, disability and unemployment under the roof of a disintegrating inherited house. In a parallel narrative 150 years earlier, science teacher Thatcher Greenwood has been reprimanded for teaching Darwinism to the mortification of his wife and mother-in-law. “Exceptionally involving and rewarding… in this enveloping, tender, witty, and awakening novel of love and trauma, family and survival, moral dilemmas and intellectual challenges, social failings and environmental disaster, Kingsolver insightfully and valiantly celebrates life’s adaptability and resilience, which includes humankind’s capacity for learning, courage, change, and progress.” (Booklist)

Friday Black
by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
A protégé of George Saunders confronts racism, consumerism and violence in stories that are raw, haunting, surreal and satirical in this debut collection. “Edgy humor and fierce imagery coexist in these stories with shrewd characterization and humane intelligence, inspired by volatile material sliced off the front pages… Corrosive dispatches from the divided heart of America.” (Kirkus Reviews)

One Part Woman
by Perumal Murugan
Happily married couple Ponna and Kali experience good fortune in many areas of their lives—but they cannot conceive a child. After years of infertility, their desperation pushes them to take drastic measures. “This beautiful novel from Murugan, winner of the Translation Prize from India’s National Academy of Letters, plunges readers into Tamil culture through a story of love within a caste system undergoing British colonization in the early 19th century… Murugan’s touching, harrowing love story captures the toll that infertility has on a marriage in a world where having a child is the greatest measure of one’s worth.” (Publishers Weekly) One Part Woman is on the longlist for the National Book Award for literature in translation, announced earlier this month.

The Proposal
by Jasmine Guillory
Nikole (Nik) Paterson looks like a jerk in front of a stadium of people when she turns down her boyfriend’s very public proposal at a Dodgers game but fortunately Carlos Ibarra comes to her rescue. When Nik and Carlos start a rebound romance, neither of them expects it to get serious. If The Proposal is anything like its predecessor (The Wedding Date, 2018) expect a fun and sexy multicultural romance. “Delightful. A charming book for the modern romance lover.” (Kirkus) And, you can meet author Jasmine Guillory at our Litquake event on October 19!

Sugar Land
by Tammy Lynne Stoner
In 1923 rural Texas, 19-year-old Dara has fallen for her best friend Rhodie. In order to hide her forbidden love, she flees to a job as a cook at the Sugar Land Prison, where she befriends the incarcerated Blues singer Lead Belly and tries to stay in the closet by marrying the prison warden. “Dara's story is a postcard of small-town Texas life from Prohibition through civil rights, tracing the treatment and awareness of gay people through these decades. The love child of Fannie Flagg and Rita Mae Brown, Stoner is sure to win her own devoted following with this ravishing debut.” (Kirkus)

Useful Phrases for Immigrants
by May-Lee Chai
This slim volume of stories looks at the lives of people in China and the Chinese diaspora around the globe, touching on issues of class, sexuality, identity and relationships. “With her masterful short story collection, Chai proves with exquisite craftsmanship that less can be so much more… The concise tales in this literary gem linger in the mind long after the pages are turned.” (Booklist)

Training School for Negro Girls
by Camille Acker
Acker's debut collection of stories focuses on the lives of black women of varied ages, in different time periods and across the socioeconomic spectrum in Washington D.C. “The women navigate social mores, gentrification, and their own insecurities… Beautifully rendered characters struggle to find a sense of themselves in their complex lives.” (Booklist)

Family Trust
by Kathy Wang
Stanley Huang, a first-generation Taiwanese American immigrant who found success in Silicon Valley, is probably worth millions. Now he is dying from pancreatic cancer, and each of his family members has their own reasons to hope for a windfall inheritance. “While many are comparing this novel to Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians, it's much more about family relationships than about the wealth the Huang family displays. It's also about the machinations of Silicon Valley… Readers who enjoy complicated novels about family issues will find this engrossing work impossible to put down.” (Library Journal)

White Dancing Elephants 
by Chaya Bhuvaneswar
Bhuvaneswar captured the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize for these short stories examining a range of experiences and moods. “The 17 stories in this debut collection take place around the world, exploring queer and interracial love, extramarital affairs, and grief over the disappearances of loved ones. The book provocatively probes the aftermath—the aftermath of death, of grim diagnoses, of abandonment, of monumental errors in judgment. Passages jump back and forth in time to dissect how the consequences of a fraught event shape and unravel the lives of innocent casualties... An exuberant collection.” (Kirkus)

What We Owe 
by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde
50-year-old Nahid made a life in Sweden after fleeing from Iran as a young revolutionary. Now she’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer and she must face her demise, her relationships and her past. “Spare and devastating… Nahid's sentences are short and thrillingly brutal, and the result is exhilarating. Hashemzadeh Bonde, unafraid of ugliness and seemingly unconcerned with likability, has produced a startling meditation on death, national identity, and motherhood. Always arresting, never sentimental; gut-wrenching, though not without hope.” (Kirkus)

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