Virtually Browse Our New Indie Fiction Releases Late Summer/Early Fall 2020

Do you miss browsing the new book section at the library and finding books you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered? Here’s what’s new in fiction on our shelves from smaller presses and lesser known authors.

Some of us love looking over a bestseller list or recent book award announcements for reading ideas (like the recently announced Booker and National Book Award nominations for example). But maybe you’re someone who misses perusing our new book section, searching for a more obscure gem.  Since you can’t browse our stacks in person, here’s a list of new fiction titles available at the library from independent publishers, university presses and books in translation.

Descriptions in italics provided by the publishers. 

Alligator & Other Stories by Dima Alzayat
The award-winning stories in Dima Alzayat’s collection are luminous and tender, whether dealing with a woman performing burial rites for her brother in “Ghusl,” or a great-aunt struggling to explain cultural identity to her niece in “Once We Were Syrians.” …Alligator and Other Stories is haunting, spellbinding, and unforgettable, while marking Dima Alzayat’s arrival as a tremendously gifted new talent.
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The Bitch by Pilar Quintana, translated by Lisa Dillman
Colombia’s Pacific coast, where everyday life entails warding off the brutal forces of nature. In this constant struggle, nothing is taken for granted. Damaris lives with her fisherman husband in a shack on a bluff overlooking the sea. Childless and at that age “when women dry up,” as her uncle puts it, she is eager to adopt an orphaned puppy. But this act may bring more than just affection into her home.
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Bluebeard's First Wife by Sŏng-nan Ha
Disasters, accidents, and deaths abound in Bluebeard’s First Wife. A woman spends a night with her fiancé and his friends, and overhears a terrible secret that has bound them together since high school. A man grows increasingly agitated by the apartment noise made by a young family living upstairs and arouses the suspicion of his own wife when the neighbors meet a string of unlucky incidents. A couple moves into a picture-perfect country house, but when their new dog is stolen, they become obsessed with finding the thief, and in the process, neglect their child. Ha’s paranoia-inducing, heart-quickening stories will have you reconsidering your own neighbors.
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Breathing Through the Wound by Víctor del Árbol, translation by Lisa Dillman
A widowed painter is commissioned by a grieving woman to paint a portrait of the man who killed her son and in trying to understand his subject, is pulled deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld of Madrid. 
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Brunch and Other Obligations by Suzanne Nugent
The only thing reclusive bookworm Nora, high-powered attorney Christina, and supermom-in-training Leanne ever had in common was their best friend, Molly. When Molly dies, she leaves mysterious gifts and cryptic notes for each of her grieving best friends, along with one final request: that these three mismatched frenemies have brunch together every month for a year. Filled with heartwrenching scenes and witty prose, Brunch and Other Obligations explores the intricate dynamics of girlhood acquaintances who are forced to reconnect as women. This upbeat novel reminds readers that there's hope for getting through the hard times in life--with a lot of patience, humor, and a standing brunch date.
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Coyote Blues by Karen F. Williams
Riley Dawson, psychotherapist and shape-shifter, has her world turned upside down when Fiona Bell, her one true love, returns.
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The Fallen by Carlos Manuel Álvarez
A powerful, unsettling portrait of family life in Cuba, Carlos Manuel Álvarez’s first novel is a masterful portrayal of a society in free fall. Diego, the son, is disillusioned and bitter about the limited freedoms his country offers him as he endures compulsory military service. Mariana, the mother, is unwell, prone to mysterious seizures, and forced to relinquish control over the household to her daughter, Maria, who has left school and is working as a chambermaid in a state-owned tourist hotel. The father, Armando, is a committed revolutionary, a die-hard Fidelista who is sickened by the corruption he perceives all around him. As each member of the family narrates seemingly quotidian and overlapping events, they grow increasingly at odds for reasons that remain elusive to them.
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The Fire in His Wake by Spencer Wolff
The Fire in His Wake, Spencer Wolff’s exuberant debut novel, tells the story of two men swept up in refugee crises of the twenty-first century: Simon, a young employee at the UNHCR in Morocco, and Arès, a Congolese locksmith left for dead in the wake of ethnic violence.
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Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey
Rowan Kelly knows she's lucky. After all, if she hadn't been adopted, she could have spent her days in a rice paddy, or a windowless warehouse assembling iPhones--they make iPhones in Korea, right? Either way, slowly dying of boredom on Long Island is surely better than the alternative. But as she matures, she realizes that she'll never know if she has her mother's eyes, or if she'd be in America at all had her adoptive parents been able to conceive. Rowan sets out to prove that she can be someone's first choice. After running away from home--and her parents' rules--and ending up beaten, barefoot, and topless on a Pennsylvania street courtesy of Bad Boy Number One, Rowan attaches herself to Never-Going-to-Commit. When that doesn't work out, she fully abandons self-respect and begins browsing Craigslist personals. But as Rowan dives deeper into the world of casual encounters with strangers, she discovers what she's really looking for.
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Kiss Me Every Day by Dena Blake
Wynn Jamison is turning thirty. Her career has made her rich, but her love life is sorely lacking. She's okay with that until she spends her birthday dinner with the woman who could've changed it all. There's only one problem. She's married to Wynn's sister. Carly Evans is tired of her wife ignoring her needs to put her career first. Family has always been important to her, and Jordan just doesn't seem to care. A freak thunderstorm rages during the night, and Wynn finds herself catapulted back in time to the day she made the worst decision of her life -- stepping aside to let her sister romance Carly. Reliving the day over and over again, Wynn must decide what is most important: success, loyalty, or love. Given a second chance at happiness, will she take the opportunity and change her destiny?
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Little Blue Encyclopedia: (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante
The playful and poignant novel Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) sifts through a queer trans woman's unrequited love for her straight trans friend who died. A queer love letter steeped in desire, grief, and delight, the story is interspersed with encyclopedia entries about a fictional TV show set on an isolated island. The experimental form functions at once as a manual for how pop culture can help soothe and mend us and as an exploration of oft-overlooked sources of pleasure, including karaoke, birding, and butt toys. Ultimately, Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) reveals with glorious detail and emotional nuance the woman the narrator loved, why she loved her, and the depths of what she has lost.
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Lucky Ticket by Joey Bui
A highly original collection of stories by a talented young writer. In the comic-tragic eponymous story, 'Lucky Ticket', the narrator, a genial, disabled old man, whose spirit is far from crushed, sells lottery tickets on a street corner in bustling Saigon. In 'Mekong Love', two young people in a restrictive society try to find a way to consummate their relationship-in an extraordinary tropical landscape. In 'Abu Dhabi Gently', a story of dreams and disappointment, of camaraderie and disillusionment, a migrant worker leaves Vietnam to earn money in the UAE in order to be able to marry his fiancee. 'White Washed' depicts a strained friendship between two students in Melbourne, the Vietnamese narrator and a white girl. What does it mean to be Asian? What does it mean to be white? And what makes up identity?
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Mansour's Eyes by Ryad Girod, translated by Chris Clarke
Mansour al-Jazaïri is on his way to his public execution. As his faithful friend Hussein looks on, the crowd calls for his head. Gassouh! Gassouh! It is a time when age-old rituals play out amid skyscrapers and are replayed on smartphone screens in the air-conditioned corridors of shopping malls. Set over the course of a single day in the Saudi Arabian capital, Mansour’s Eyes weaves together several historical pasts: the time of Mansour’s great-grandfather, the Emir Abdelkader; that of Algerian independence; and that of another Mansour, Mansur Al-Hallaj, a Sufi mystic executed in 922. In this lyrical and ambitious novel, Ryad Girod looks at the post-Arab Spring world as its drive toward modernity threatens to sever its relationship with the ethos of Sufi thought and mysticism.
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My Favorite Girlfriend Was a French Bulldog by Legna Rodríguez Iglesias
My Favorite Girlfriend was a French Bulldog is a novel told in fifteen stories, linked by the same protagonist, our narrator, who--in her own voice and channeling the voices of others--creates an unsparing, multigenerational portrait of her native Cuba. Though she feels suffocated by the island and decides to leave, hers is not just a political novel--nor just a queer novel, an immigrant novel, a feminist novel--but a deeply existential one, in which mortality, corporeality, bureaucracy, emotional and physical violence, and the American Dream define the long journey of our narrator and her beloved pet dog, who gives the book both its title and its unforgettable ending.
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Neotenica by Joon Oluchi Lee
Set in the Bay Area of the early 2000s, Neotenica is a novel of encounters: casual sex, arranged-marriage dates, cops, rowdy teenagers, lawyers, a Sapphic flirtation, a rival, a child, and two important dogs. At the center of it are Young Ae, a Korean-born ballet dancer turned PhD student, and her husband, a Korean-American male who inhabits an interior femininity, neither transgender nor homosexual, but a strong, visceral femininity nonetheless.
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Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future by Sheree R. Thomas
The stories collected in Nine Bar Blues weave emotion, spirit, and music, captivating readers with newfound alchemy and the murmurs of dark gods. Rooted in rhythm, threaded with magic, these tales encompass worlds that begin in river bottoms, pass through spectral gates, and end in distant uncharted worlds. These stories describe the pain that often accompanies the confines of sanctuary and the joy that is inextricably bound to the troubles of hard living.
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No Presents Please: Mumbai Stories by Jayanta Kāykiṇi, translated by Tejaswini Niranjana
An eclectic mix of short stories set in Mumbai focus on the different experiences of those in the vibrant city, including a bachelor who receives a strange wedding proposal and a young girl who tries to comfort her father. …these resonant stories, recently awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, take us to photo framers, flower markets, and Irani cafes, revealing a city trading in fantasies while its strivers, eating once a day and sleeping ten to a room, hold secret ambitions close.
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Outside the Lines by Ameera Patel
Drug addict Cathleen is kidnapped and her distracted, middle-class family fails to notice her absence; Zilindile, who services Cathleen's drug habit, and his Muslim Indian girlfriend Farhana, struggle to make sense of their relationship despite their very different backgrounds; and domestic worker Flora and the silent Runyararo, who was painting Cathleen's house until accused by Cathleen's father of stealing, become entangled with romance and criminals, leading to the ultimate tragedy.
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The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier
To recover from a cataclysmic war, the Harvest was instituted to pass blood to those affected by radiation. But this charitable act has led to a society segregated entirely by blood type. Government blood contractor, Patriot, rewards your generous gift based on the compatibility of your donation, meaning that whoever can give the most, gets the most in return. While working as a reaper taking collections for the Harvest, Willa chances upon an idea to resurrect an obsolete technique that could rebalance the city. But in her quest to set things into motion, she uncovers a horrifying secret that cuts to the heart of everything.
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The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya
Ramiza Shamoun Koya reveals the devastating cost of anti-Muslim sentiment in The Royal Abduls, her debut novel about a secular Indian-America family. Evolutionary biologist Amina Abdul accepts a post-doc in Washington, DC, choosing her career studying hybrid zones over a faltering West Coast romance. Her brother and sister-in-law welcome her to the city, but their marriage is crumbling, and they soon rely on her to keep their son company. Omar, hungry to understand his roots, fakes an Indian accent, invents a royal past, and peppers his aunt with questions about their cultural heritage. When he brings an ornamental knife to school, his expulsion triggers a downward spiral for his family, even as Amina struggles to find her own place in an America now at war with people who look like her. With The Royal Abduls, Koya ignites the canon of post-9/11 literature with a deft portrait of second-generation American identity.
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The Runaways by Fatima Bhutto
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.
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Scorpionfish by Natalie Bakopoulos
After the unexpected deaths of her parents, academic Mira returns to her childhood home in Athens. On her first night back, she encounters a new neighbor, a longtime ship captain who has found himself, for the first time in years, no longer at sea. As one summer night tumbles into another, Mira and the Captain’s voices drift across the balconies of their apartments, disclosing details and stories: of careers, of families, of love.For Mira, love has so often meant Aris, an ex-boyfriend and rising Greek politician who has recently become engaged to a movie star. There is, too, her love for her dear friend Nefeli—a well-known artist who came of age during the military dictatorship—as well as Dimitra and Fady, a couple caring for a young refugee boy. Undergirding each relationship is the love that these characters have for Athens, a beautiful but complicated city that is equal parts lushness and sharp edges.
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The Shame by Makenna Goodman
Alma and her family live close to the land: they raise chickens and sheep, they make maple syrup. Every day Alma's husband leaves for his job at a nearby college while she stays home with their young children, cleans, searches for secondhand goods online, and reads books by the women writers she adores. Then, one night, she abruptly leaves it all behind--speeding through the darkness, away from their Vermont homestead, bound for New York. In a series of flashbacks, Alma reveals the circumstances and choices that led to this moment. The joys and claustrophobia of their remote life through the passing of each season. Her fears and uncertainties about motherhood. The painfully awkward faculty dinners. Her feelings of loneliness and failure. And her growing fascination with Celeste: the mysterious ceramicist and self-loving doppelganger whose story begins as inspiration for Alma before turning into a powerful obsession.
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Shine of the Ever by Claire Rudy Foster
By turns tender and punk-tough, Shine of the Ever is a literary mix tape of queer voices out of 1990's Portland. This collection of short stories explores what binds a community of queer and trans people as they negotiate love, screwing up, and learning to forgive themselves for being young and sometimes foolish.
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Shooting Down Heaven by Jorge Franco Ramos, translated by Andrea Rosenberg
After twelve years away, Larry comes home to his native country of Colombia after his father, an old associate of Pablo Escobar, is murdered. Larry returns to collect his remains from a mass grave and give him a proper burial…but not before a reunion with his childhood friend, Pedro. Pedro picks him up at the airport to take him directly to the Alborada celebration—a popular festival where fireworks explode over Medellín, and the entire city loses its inhibitions. Faced by an uncertain reality, Larry is forced to confront his family’s turbulent history and reclaim himself from the dark remnants of a city still trying to rediscover itself.
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A Short Move by Katherine Hill
In a small Virginia town in 1971, a high school football star runs out on his pregnant girlfriend. Six years later, that child meets his father for the first time and discovers the athlete within. Before long he is on the fast-track to the NFL, coached by a relentless Vietnam veteran uncle, nourished by a patient working mom, and defended by an ambitious girlfriend, all of whom tie their own hopes to his career. When he finally makes it, as Mitch "Wilk" Wilkins, New England's fearsome middle linebacker, it all seems preordained. Then, almost immediately, his life begins to fall apart: a billionaire owns him, his marriage is on the rocks, and his body is betraying him in stages. As Mitch and his wounded family press on, seeking meaning in a relentlessly incentive-driven and forward-moving life, the sacrifices necessary for success in sports—and in attaining the âAmerican Dream—are laid painfully and tragically bare.
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The Summer of Kim Novak by Håkan Nesser
Sweden in the ’60s. Erik and his friend Edmund spend their vacation by a forest lake daydreaming about Ewa, a young substitute teacher with an uncanny resemblance to the actress Kim Novak. The boys are having the time of their lives until a shocking discovery disrupts their world. Twenty-five years later, Erik comes across a newspaper article about unsolved crimes and is overwhelmed by memories and questions from that summer of his youth. What actually happened back then? The Summer of Kim Novak has all the tension and mystery of Nesser’s world-famous thrillers, combined with a coming-of-age tale of remarkable psychological precision.
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Tea by the Sea by Donna Hemans
A seventeen-year-old taken from her mother at birth, an Episcopal priest with a daughter whose face he cannot bear to see, a mother weary of searching for her lost child: Tea by the Sea is their story-that of a family uniting and unraveling. To find the daughter taken from her, Plum Valentine must find the child's father who walked out of a hospital with the day-old baby girl without explanation. Seventeen years later, weary of her unfruitful search, Plum sees an article in a community newspaper with a photo of the man for whom she has spent half her life searching. He has become an Episcopal priest. Her plan: confront him and walk away with the daughter he took from her. From Brooklyn to the island of Jamaica, Tea by the Sea traces Plum's circuitous route to find her daughter and how Plum's and the priest's love came apart.
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They Say Sarah by Pauline Delabroy-Allard, translated by Adriana Hunter
A literary sensation in France, this poetic, thrilling debut charts the all-consuming passion between two women and the ruin it leaves in its wake. A thirty-something teacher drifts through her life in Paris, raising a daughter on her own, lonely in spite of a new boyfriend. And then one night at a friend's tepid New Year's Eve party, Sarah enters the scene like a tornado--a talented young violinist, she is loud, vivacious, appealingly unkempt in a world where everyone seems preoccupied with being 'just so.' Thus begins an intense relationship, tender and violent, that will upend both women's lives. In gorgeous, evocative prose, Pauline Delabroy-Allard perfectly captures the pull of a desire so strong that it blinds us to everything else.
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To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life by Hervé Guibert
First published by Gallimard in 1990, To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life describes, with devastating, darkly comic clarity, its narrator's experience of being diagnosed with AIDS. Guibert chronicles three months in the penultimate year of the narrator's life as, in the wake of his friend Muzil's death, he goes from one quack doctor to another, describing the progression of the disease and recording the reactions of his many friends.
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The Tree and the Vine by Dola De Jong
When Bea meets Erica at the home of a mutual friend, this chance encounter sets the stage for the story of two women torn between desire and taboo in the years leading up to the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Erica, a reckless young journalist, pursues passionate but abusive affairs with different women. Bea, a reserved secretary, grows increasingly obsessed with Erica, yet denial and shame keep her from recognizing her attraction. Only Bea's discovery that Erica is half-Jewish and a member of the Dutch resistance--and thus in danger--brings her closer to accepting her own feelings.
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Whiteout Conditions by Tariq Shah
Ant is back in Chicago for a funeral, and he typically enjoys funerals. Since most of his family has passed away, he finds himself attracted to their endearing qualities: the hyperbolic language, the stoner altar boy, seeing friends in suits for the first time. That is, until the tragic death of Ray ― Ant’s childhood friend, Vince's teenage cousin. Ray was the younger third-wheel that Ant and Vince were stuck babysitting while in high school, and his sudden death makes national news. In the depths of a brutal Midwest winter, Ant rides with Vince through the falling snow to Ray’s funeral, an event that has been accruing a sense of consequence. With a poet’s sensibility, Shah navigates the murky responsibilities of adulthood, grief, toxic masculinity, and the tragedy of revenge in this haunting Midwestern noir.
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The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana by Maryse Condé
Born in Guadeloupe, Ivan and Ivana are twins with a bond so strong they become afraid of their feelings for one another. When their mother sends them off to live with their father in Mali they begin to grow apart, until, as young adults in Paris, Ivana's youthful altruism compels her to join the police academy, while Ivan, stunted by early experiences of rejection and exploitation, walks the path of radicalization. The twins, unable to live either with or without each other, become perpetrator and victim in a wave of violent attacks.
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Wretchedness by Andrzej Tichý, translated by Nichola Smalley
Waiting by the canal in Malmö, a young cellist meets a disorientated junkie. The encounter sends him into a turmoil of memories, voices and associations. As the cellist oscillates between present and past, he is paralysed by doubt and confusion and he begins to question his own place in society.
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