The TNB Book Club


Available from Red Hen Press

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“Gripping, moving, and vital, Unseen City asks how human life might defy its lifespan—in the throes of love, the conviction of belief, and each person’s mark upon a city that will survive them. For two days, I laughed at Amy Shearn’s wry humor and gasped at her gorgeous sentences; I couldn’t put this brilliant book down until its perfect final line (and I’m haunted still—which is appropriate, I suppose)!” —Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, bestselling author of June and Bittersweet

A multi-generational portrait of New York and the unexpected connections between a lonely Brooklyn librarian, a widower returning to his roots, and a ghost still lingering in a home that was once part of an activist-founded farming settlement.

In a city teeming with stories, how do lost souls find one another? It’s a question Meg Rhys doesn’t think she’s asking. Meg is a self-identified spinster librarian, satisfied with living with her cat, stacks of books, and her dead sister’s ghost in her New York City apartment. Then she becomes obsessed with an intriguing library patron and the haunted house he’s trying to research. The house has its own story to tell too, of love and war, of racism’s fallout and the ghost story that is gentrification, and of Brooklyn before it was Brooklyn. What follows is an exploration of what home is, how we live with loss, who belongs in the city and to whom the city belongs, and the possibilities and power of love.


Available from W.W. Norton

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“Nick Flynn writes like a wicked angel―heartbreaking and challenging yes, but with an undercurrent of comfort that comes from the fact that you can trust this voice. We need this book, now more than ever.” —Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

A searing memoir from critically acclaimed author Nick Flynn, on how childhood spills into parenthood.

When Nick Flynn was seven years old, his mother set fire to their house. The event loomed large in his imagination for years, but it’s only after having a child of his own that he understands why. He returns with his young daughter to the landscape of his youth, reflecting on how his feral childhood has him still in its reins, and forms his memories into lyrical bedtime stories populated by the both sinister and wounded Mister Mann.

With the spare lyricism and dark irony of his classic, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Flynn excavates the terrain of his traumatic upbringing and his mother’s suicide. This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire unravels the story of the fire that Flynn had to escape, and the ways in which, as an adult, he has carried that fire with him until it threatens to burn down his own house. Here Nick confronts his failings with fierce candor, even as they threaten to tear his family apart. His marriage in crisis, Flynn seeks answers from his therapist, who tells him he has “the ethics of a drowning man.”

This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire takes us on the journey of a man struggling to hold himself together in prose that is raw and moving, sharp-edged and wry. Alternating literary analysis and philosophy with intimate memoir, Flynn probes his deepest ethical dilemmas.


Available from Doubleday

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“[A] playful and unflinching debut…This infectious evocation of a young woman’s slackerdom will appeal to fans of Halle Butler and Ottessa Moshfegh, and will make it difficult not to root for the troubled and spirited pizza girl.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Named a most anticipated book of 2020 by Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Time, People, BuzzFeed, Travel + Leisure, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, and more.

In the tradition of audacious and wryly funny novels like The Idiot and Convenience Store Woman comes the wildly original coming-of-age story of a pregnant pizza delivery girl who becomes obsessed with one of her customers.

Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl in suburban Los Angeles, our charmingly dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She’s grieving the death of her father (whom she has more in common with than she’d like to admit), avoiding her supportive mom and loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.

Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighborhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickled-covered pizzas for her son’s happiness. As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other toward middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.

Bold, tender, propulsive, and unexpected in countless ways, Jean Kyoung Frazier’s Pizza Girl is a moving and funny portrait of a flawed, unforgettable young woman as she tries to find her place in the world.


Available from Graywolf Press

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“Diaz’s collection is no doubt one of the most important poetry releases in years, one to applaud for its considerable demonstration of skill, its resistance to dominant perspectives and its light wrought of desire.” —The New York Times Book Review

Natalie Diaz’s highly anticipated follow-up to When My Brother Was an Aztec, winner of an American Book Award

Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages―bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers―be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality.

Diaz defies the conditions from which she writes, a nation whose creation predicated the diminishment and ultimate erasure of bodies like hers and the people she loves: “I am doing my best to not become a museum / of myself. I am doing my best to breathe in and out. // I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.” Postcolonial Love Poem unravels notions of American goodness and creates something more powerful than hope―in it, a future is built, future being a matrix of the choices we make now, and in these poems, Diaz chooses love.


Available from Rare Bird Books

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The Fitzgeralds are buttressed by wealth and privilege, but they are also buffeted by crisis after crisis, many of their own creation. Even so, they live large, in love and in strife, wielding power, combating adversaries and each other. The Good Family Fitzgerald is a saga of money and ambition, crime and the Catholic Church, a sprawling, passionate story shaped against a background of social discord.

Padraic Fitzgerald is the up-from-nothing, aging patriarch whose considerable business interests appear anything but legitimate, but he has bigger problems than law enforcement. A widower, Paddy becomes enmeshed with a young woman who will force him to re-examine his cardinal assumptions. Meanwhile, he has cultivated thorny relationships with his four children, all of whom struggle over the terms of connection with their father. Anthony―oldest son, principled criminal defense attorney, designated prince of the family―and his cherished Francesca are devastated by tragedy. In the aftermath, Frankie comes to play a vital role in Fitzgerald lore. Philip is a charismatic Catholic priest spectacularly torn between his lofty ideals and aspirations and his all-too-human flaws and longings. Matty has wandered aimlessly, but once he finds his purpose, he precipitates turmoil in all quarters. Colleen, the youngest, is a seeker who styles herself the outsider and the conscience of the clan. Her hands are full, as no Fitzgerald is left untested or unscathed, and by the end the whole family, as well as those venturing into their realm, will be stunned into illumination.


Available from Overlook Press

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Starling Days is an exquisite rendering of love, sadness, and misunderstanding.” —The Paris Review

The moving new novel by the author of Harmless Like You, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and NPR Great Read

On their first date, Mina told Oscar that she was bisexual, vegetarian, and on meds. He married her anyhow. A challenge to be met. She had low days, sure, but manageable. But now, maybe not so much . . . Mina is standing on the George Washington Bridge late at night, staring over the edge, when a patrol car drives up. She tries to convince the policeman she’s not about to jump, but he doesn’t believe her. Oscar is called to pick her up.

With the idea of leaving New York for London—a place for Mina “to learn the floorplan of this sadness”—Oscar arranges a move. In London, Mina, a classicist, tries grappling with her mental health issues by making lists. Of WOMEN WHO SURVIVED—Penelope, Psyche, Leda. Iphigenia, but only in one of the tellings. Of things that make her HAPPY—enamel coffee cups. But what else? She at last finds a beam of light in Phoebe, and friendship and attraction blossom until Oscar and Mina’s complicated love is tested.

A gorgeously wrought novel, variously about love, mythology, mental illness, Japanese beer, and the times we need to seek out milder psychological climates, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Starling Days—written in exquisite prose rich with lightly ironic empathy—is a complex and compelling work of fiction by a singularly gifted young writer.

Available from Graywolf Press

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“In this outrageous piece of rural noir and pitch-perfect characterization, Unferth recalls Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang with a dose of vegan-minded quirk. This entertaining, satisfying genre turn shows off Unferth’s range, and readers will be delighted by the characters’ earnest crusade.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

Two auditors for the US egg industry go rogue and conceive a plot to steal a million chickens in the middle of the night—an entire egg farm’s worth of animals. Janey and Cleveland—a spirited former runaway and the officious head of audits—assemble a precarious, quarrelsome team and descend on the farm on a dark spring evening. A series of catastrophes ensues.

Deb Olin Unferth’s wildly inventive but utterly plausible novel is a heist story of a very unusual sort. Swirling with a rich array of voices, Barn 8 takes readers into the minds of these renegades: a farmer’s daughter, a former director of undercover investigations, hundreds of activists, a forest ranger who suddenly comes upon forty thousand hens, and a security guard who is left on an empty farm for years. There are glimpses twenty thousand years into the future to see what chickens might evolve into on our contaminated planet. We hear what hens think happens when they die. In the end the cracked hearts of these indelible characters, their earnest efforts to heal themselves, and their radical actions will lead them to ruin or revelation.

Funny, whimsical, philosophical, and heartbreaking, Barn 8 ultimately asks: What constitutes meaningful action in a world so in need of change? Unferth comes at this question with striking ingenuity, razor-sharp wit, and ferocious passion. Barn 8 is a rare comic-political drama, a tour de force for our time.

Available from Feminist Press

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“A rich, deeply felt novel about family ties, immigration, sexual longing, faith, and desire. Simultaneously raw and luminous.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Uprooted from her comfortable life in Bogotá, Colombia, into an ant-infested Miami townhouse, fifteen-year-old Francisca is miserable and friendless in her strange new city. Her alienation grows when her mother is swept up into an evangelical church, replete with Christian salsa, abstinent young dancers, and baptisms for the dead.

But there, Francisca also meets the magnetic Carmen: opinionated and charismatic, head of the youth group, and the pastor’s daughter. As her mother’s mental health deteriorates and her grandmother descends into alcoholism, Francisca falls more and more intensely in love with Carmen. To get closer to her, Francisca turns to Jesus to be saved, even as their relationship hurtles toward a shattering conclusion.

Available from Rare Bird Books

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In The White Album, Joan Didion famously wrote that “a place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively…loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image.” Cruising in her Daytona yellow Corvette Stingray, taking it all in behind dark glasses, Joan Didion claimed California for all time. Slouching Towards Los Angeles is a multi-faceted portrait of the literary icon who, in turn, belongs to us.

This collection of original essays covers the turf that made Didion a sensation―Hollywood and Patty Hearst; Malibu, Manson and the Mojave; the Summer of Love and the Central Park Five―while bringing together some of the finest voices of today’s Los Angeles and beyond. Slouching Towards Los Angeles is a love letter and thank you note; personal memoir and social commentary; cultural history and literary critique. Fans of Didion, lovers of California, and fellow writers alike will all find something to dig into, in this rich exploration of the inner and outer landscapes Joan Didion traveled, shaping our own journeys in the process.

Available from Golden Antelope Press

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“A book about power, race, privilege and the failings we inherit” —Michelle Hoover, author of Bottomland

“A poignantly told story of ruminative remembrance”— Kirkus Reviews

In 2004, when middle-aged Walker Maguire is called to the deathbed of his estranged father, his thoughts return to 1974. He’d worked that summer at the auto factory where his dad, an unhappily retired Air Force colonel, was employed as plant physician. Witness to a bloody fight falsely blamed on a Mexican immigrant, Walker kept quiet, fearing his white co-workers and tyrannical father. Lies snowball into betrayals, leading to a life-long rift between father and son that can only be mended by the past coming back to life and revealing its long-held secrets. You Can See More From Up Here is a coming-of-age tale about the illusion of privilege and the power of the past to inform and possibly heal the present.

Available from Rare Bird Books

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“Abigail Tarttelin is a fearless writer.”
―Emily St. John Mandel

From the award-winning author of Golden Boy, a riveting novel that traces one girl’s journey to understand what happened to her best friend, and what it might mean to be a girl.

Eastcastle, England in the late 1990s is a peaceful, rural community where children disappear into wheat fields to play until nightfall. There are no mobile phones and no cause to worry. For families, it’s a place that allows the ultimate freedom, and this is the way eleven-year-old Thera Wilde and her friends are brought up: free.

So when Thera’s best friend goes missing, Thera assumes Billie is off on another adventure. Then detectives come to question Thera at school, and she realises the worst has happened. Thera starts to ask, what is a pervert? Why are girls particularly at risk? And why do the men around her think she’s theirs to touch? Questions the adults around her don’t want to answer.

Meanwhile, Billie has entered the realm of the dead girls; the girls that go missing and who no one finds. Does Thera really see her ghost, or is she hallucinating, mentally marked by the horror of losing her friend? The investigation continues. The rural police are slow, and overwhelmed by the unexpected nature of the case.

Urged on by what she believes to be Billie’s ghost, Thera decides to find out what happened to her friend. It’s the 90s. Girls can do anything. Thera will hunt down the killer herself.

An authentic, tender portrayal of a young girl’s grief and determination in the face of unbearable loss, as well as a smart, suspenseful exploration of how we talk to young girls about the men who would hurt them. Dead Girls is Tarttelin’s riveting, fiercely feminist follow up to critically-acclaimed LAMBDA Finalist and ALEX Award winner, Golden Boy.

Available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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“It’s a rare memoir that reads like a thriller, but Adrienne Brodeur’s Wild Game manages to do just that. Beautifully written and harrowing, the book left me breathless.” —Richard Russo, author of The Destiny Thief and Empire Falls

A daughter’s tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity.

On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me.

Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life—and her mother—on her own terms.

Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us.

Available from OR Books

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“A searing critique of U.S. imperialism that couldn’t be more perfectly timed in its release.” ―Dahr Jamail, author of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption

At 21, Belén left the U.S. and didn’t look back. Alone, far off the beaten path in places like Syria and Tajikistan, she confronts violence, lechery, and places where it’s hard to find a good glass of wine, and reflects on what it means to be an American in a largely American-made mess of a world.

After growing up in Washington, D.C. and Texas, and then attending Columbia University in New York, Belén Fernández ended up in a state of self-imposed exile from the United States. From trekking―through Europe, the Middle East, Morocco, and Latin America―to packing avocados in southern Spain, to marrying a Palestinian-Lebanese man, to witnessing the violent aftermath of the 2009 coup in Honduras, the international travel allowed her by an American passport has, ironically, given her a direct view of the devastating consequences of U.S. machinations worldwide. For some years Fernández survived thanks to the generosity of strangers who picked her up hitchhiking, fed her, and offered accommodations; then she discovered people would pay her for her powerful, unfiltered journalism, enabling―as of the present moment―continued survival.

In just a few short years of publishing her observations on world politics and writing from places as varied as Lebanon, Italy, Uzbekistan, Syria, Mexico, Turkey, Honduras, and Iran, Belén Fernández has earned a place alongside Martha Gellhorn and Susan Sontag as one of the most trenchant observers of American actions abroad.

Available from Tyrant Books

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Vincent and Alice and Alice has everything I’ve always loved about Shane’s work—the vivid imaginative force field, the mordant humor—while also marking a commanding departure. This is a novel of great intimacy and heart, one that held me close and moved me deeply.” – Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel

From the visionary author of Light Boxes, a mind-bending office comedy, and a touching modern love story set against the backdrop of an ever-increasingly disorienting America.

Being home all the time is depressing, so I tell my boss “I’m ready for anything” in the strongest conference call voice in the world while driving my hand into a family-sized bag of tortilla chips. Without a future, no Alice, I’m ready for an adventure.

Meet Vincent. After his divorce from Alice he’s lost his way, and is mindlessly working for the State, counting down the days till retirement. When his boss tells him to participate in a program that promises not only to increase productivity, but show him his “ideal life” he thinks: what’s the harm? Others have seen new marked improvements in productivity and personal happiness. Willing to try anything to move away from the heartbreak of Alice, Vincent reluctantly complies. But what the program shows him, is that his ideal life is simply Alice. She’s back. Is she real? A clone? A hologram? Despite the lingering questions, Vincent eases back into love and begins to live his life again with Alice, that is, until the real Alice returns.

A novel about work, love, and how to live in the present moment, Vincent and Alice and Alice flings us through a shockingly funny and tender-hearted world just a few degrees different from our own, one that introduces us to a wild cast of characters, including the enigmatic CEO of PER, Dorian Blood, a mysterious under-cover cop, and the acid-tongued Elderly, a man living in his car who may be the only one who understands how to live in reality.

Available from Dzanc Books

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“In these wistful, expansive stories, Peg Alford Pursell holds up a mirror to our lives and relationships. The stories excavate the lives of her narrators with honesty and clear, luminous prose. They are mysterious in the way the best fiction is―their truths echoing long after you turn the page.”
―Karen E. Bender, National Book Award finalist and author of Refund

Following her acclaimed debut, Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow, award-winning author Peg Alford Pursell explores and illuminates love and loss in 78 hybrid stories and fables. A Girl Goes into the Forest immerses readers in the complex desires, contradictions, and sorrows of daughters, wives, and husbands, artists, siblings, and mothers.

In forests literal and metaphorical, the characters try, fail, and try again to see the world, to hear each other, and to speak the truth of their longings. Powerful, lyrical, and precise, Pursell’s stories call up a world at once mysterious and recognizable.

A Girl Goes into the Forest invites fans of Lydia Davis and Helen Oyeyemi into a world where “no one can deter a person from her mistakes.”