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The TNB Book Club

x298Available from Custom House Books / HarperCollins

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“For originality, richness of prose and depth of characterization is unlikely to be bettered this year … one of the most memorable historical novels of the past decade.” –Sunday Times (London)

Costa Book Award Finalist and the Waterstones (UK) Book of the Year 2016

“I loved this book. At once numinous, intimate and wise, The Essex Serpent is a marvelous novel about the workings of life, love and belief, about science and religion, secrets, mysteries, and the complicated and unexpected shifts of the human heart—and it contains some of the most beautiful evocations of place and landscape I’ve ever read. It is so good its pages seem lit from within. As soon as I’d finished it I started reading it again.”—Helen MacDonald, author of H is for Hawk

An exquisitely talented young British author makes her American debut with this rapturously acclaimed historical novel, set in late nineteenth-century England, about an intellectually minded young widow, a pious vicar, and a rumored mythical serpent that explores questions about science and religion, skepticism, and faith, independence and love.

When Cora Seaborne’s brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend.

While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. Eager to investigate, she is introduced to local vicar William Ransome. Will, too, is suspicious of the rumors. But unlike Cora, this man of faith is convinced the rumors are caused by moral panic, a flight from true belief.

These seeming opposites who agree on nothing soon find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart—an intense relationship that will change both of their lives in ways entirely unexpected.

Hailed by Sarah Waters as “a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author,” The Essex Serpent is “irresistible . . . you can feel the influences of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Hilary Mantel channeled by Perry in some sort of Victorian séance. This is the best new novel I’ve read in years.”

y450-293Available from Harper

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“Lidia Yuknavitch is a writer who, with each ever more triumphant book, creates a new language with which she writes the audacious stories only she can tell. The Book of Joan is a raucous celebration, a searing condemnation, and fiercely imaginative retelling of Joan of Arc’s transcendent life.” –Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist

The 25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017, Elle magazine

The 32 Most Exciting Books Coming Out in 2017, BuzzFeed

50 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2017, Nylon magazine

33 New Books to Read in 2017, The Huffington Post

Most Anticipated, The Great 2017 Book Preview, The Millions

The bestselling author of The Small Backs of Children offers a vision of our near-extinction and a heroine—a reimagined Joan of Arc—poised to save a world ravaged by war, violence, and greed, and forever change history, in this provocative new novel.

In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet’s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless, pale-white creatures floating in isolation, inscribing stories upon their skin.

Out of the ranks of the endless wars rises Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader who turns CIEL into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule—galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force that lives within her and communes with the earth. When de Men and his armies turn Joan into a martyr, the consequences are astonishing. And no one—not the rebels, Jean de Men, or even Joan herself—can foresee the way her story and unique gift will forge the destiny of an entire world for generations.

A riveting tale of destruction and love found in the direst of places—even at the extreme end of post-human experience—Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan raises questions about what it means to be human, the fluidity of sex and gender, and the role of art as a means for survival.

9780670025350Available from Viking

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The One-Eyed Man delivers blistering, hilarious social satire and apocalyptic hijinks with the best of them, but what you have after the smoke clears is a deep, moving novel about love and grief. Ron Currie is a many-eyed and many-hearted wonder.” – Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

From the “startlingly talented” (New York Times) author of Everything Matters!—the compelling story of a man who takes everything far too literally, and his adventures as the star of a reality TV show

“Nobody writing today walks the knife edge of cynicism and sentiment more bravely, intelligently and confidently than Ron Currie. By turns hilarious and heartfelt, The One-Eyed Man is a revelation, a wonder.” –Richard Russo

Ron Currie’s three previous works of fiction have dazzled readers and critics alike with their originality, audacity, and psychological insight. A writer of unique vision and huge imagination, Currie excels at creating complex, troubled, yet endearing characters, and his work has won comparison to everyone from Kurt Vonnegut to George Saunders.

K., the intriguing narrator of Currie’s new novel, joins the ranks of other great American literary creations who show us something new about ourselves. Like Jack Gladney from White Noise, K. is possessed of a hyper-articulate exasperation with the world, and like Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces, he is a doomed truth teller whom everyone misunderstands. After his wife Sarah dies, K. loses his metaphorical capacity, becoming so wedded to the notion of clarity that he infuriates everyone, friends and strangers alike. When he intervenes in an armed robbery, K. finds himself both an inadvertent hero and the star of a new reality television program. Together with Claire, a grocery store clerk with a sharp tongue and a yen for celebrity, he travels the country, ruffling feathers and gaining fame at the intersection of American politics and entertainment. But soon, through a conflagration of biblical proportions, he discovers that the world will fight viciously to preserve its delusions about itself.

K.’s quixotic effort to fully understand the world he lives in makes for a singular and engaging novel, one which further establishes Ron Currie’s position as one of today’s rising stars in fiction.

29983711Available from Grand Central Publishing

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“In 1930s Korea, an earnest young woman, abandoned by the lover who has gotten her pregnant, enters into a marriage of convenience that will take her to a new life in Japan. Thus begins Lee’s luminous new novel Pachinko–a powerful meditation on what immigrants sacrifice to achieve a home in the world. Pachinko confirms Lee’s place among our finest novelists.” —Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her

A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of A Fine Balance and Cutting for Stone.

Profoundly moving and gracefully told, Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life.

So begins a sweeping saga of exceptional people in exile from a homeland they never knew and caught in the indifferent arc of history. In Japan, Sunja’s family members endure harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty, yet they also encounter great joy as they pursue their passions and rise to meet the challenges this new home presents. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, they are bound together by deep roots as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

51ipt8e0vzlAvailable from Algonquin Books

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“Funny, sad, and smart, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a brilliant meditation on love, loss and loneliness. Part wacky road novel, part romantic comedy, Tom McAllister’s debut novel flies along yet reaches deep.” —Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset

For Hunter Cady, meeting Kait was the greatest thing that ever happened to him. Otherwise unmotivated, he spent roughly half his twenty-nine years accomplishing very little, which makes him about fifteen in terms of real-life experience. But he’s the luckiest man on earth when it comes to his wife. Beautiful and confident, Kait is somehow charmed by Hunter’s awkwardness and droll humor. So when she dies quite suddenly, Hunter is crushed. Numb with grief, he stumbles forward the only way he knows how: by running away. To the dismay of her family, Hunter takes Kait’s ashes with him and heads west.

They had always meant to travel. Soon enough, he finds himself–and Kait–in encounters with characters even quirkier than he is: an overzealous Renaissance Faire worker; a raucous yet sympathetic troop of bachelorettes; a Chicago couple and their pet parrot, Elvis. He meets a much older man still searching for the wife who walked out on him years ago. Along the way are glimpses of Hunter and Kait’s beautiful, flawed, very real marriage and the strength it gives Hunter, even when contemplating a future without it. Insightful, wry, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a testament to the power of love.

tdr_bookcover_reactive_grandeAvailable from Two Dollar Radio

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“Woozy, touching… a novel that delivers an unexpected love letter to Cape Town, painting it as a place of frustrated glory. The Reactive often teems with a beauty that seems to carry on in front of its glue-huffing wasters despite themselves.” —Marian Ryan, Slate

From the winner of the PEN International New Voices Award comes the story of Lindanathi, a young HIV+ man grappling with the death of his brother, for which he feels unduly responsible. He and his friends—Cecelia and Ruan—work low-paying jobs and sell anti-retroviral drugs (during the period in South Africa before ARVs became broadly distributed). In between, they huff glue, drift through parties, and traverse the streets of Cape Town where they observe the grave material disparities of their country.

A mysterious masked man appears seeking to buy their surplus of ARVs, an offer that would present the friends with the opportunity to escape their environs, while at the same time forcing Lindanathi to confront his path, and finally, his past.

With brilliant, shimmering prose, Ntshanga has delivered a redemptive, ambitious, and unforgettable first novel.

laluz_new-jersey-meAvailable from Rare Bird Books

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“Gritty and loud, raucous and real, but still somehow hushed and holy—like a love story told in the blacklight room at the back of a Spencer’s Gifts.” —Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

New Jersey Me explores an ensemble cast of unique characters, including Blackwater’s hometown nuclear power plant; a beauty named Baby, Baby’s hell-bent-for-prison boyfriend, Terry; a Mary Kay mom high on Vicodin and Bloody Marys; and an old old tree with a taste for blood. The son of the local police chief, Mark dreams of escaping the small town’s conflicting and oppressive codes of manhood. In the meantime, though, Mark lives a boy’s life, Blackwater-style: netting fish that have been killed by sudden coldwater emissions from the nuclear plant; kidnapping a chimp from the local circus; selling dirty socks to a local eccentric who may hold the key to Mark’s escape; dating a one-legged girl; and observing the increasingly mysterious behavior of his best friend, Jimmy.

51qbloltnclAvailable from Relegation Books

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“A gorgeous multigenerational saga of love and race, loss and belonging…Every last one of Chung’s characters is wholly alive and breathtakingly human…Elegant and empathetic, a book impossible to put down.” —Kirkus (starred review)

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.

26530351Available from Liveright

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“One of the most stunningly beautiful novels in recent years…Dennis-Benn’s writing is so assured, so gorgeous, that it’s hard to believe Here Comes the Sun is a debut novel…it feels like a miracle.” —Michael Schaub, NPR

In this radiant, highly anticipated debut, a cast of unforgettable women battle for independence while a maelstrom of change threatens their Jamaican village.

Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis-Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman―fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves―must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.

9781250097101Available in trade paperback from Picador

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“Franzen may well now be the best American novelist. He has certainly become our most public one, not because he commands Oprah’s interest and is a sovereign presence on the best-seller list—though neither should be discounted—but because, like the great novelists of the past, he convinces us that his vision unmasks the world in which we actually live . . . A good writer will make an effort to purge his prose of clichés. But it takes genius to reanimate them in all their original power and meaning.” —Sam Tanenhaus, The New Republic

A magnum opus for our morally complex times from the author of Freedom

Young Pip Tyler doesn’t know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she’s saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she’s squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother–her only family–is hazardous. But she doesn’t have a clue who her father is, why her mother chose to live as a recluse with an invented name, or how she’ll ever have a normal life.

Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with The Sunlight Project, an organization that traffics in all the secrets of the world–including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic provocateur who rose to fame in the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now on the lam in Bolivia, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn’t understand, and the intensity of her response to him upends her conventional ideas of right and wrong.

Purity is a grand story of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder. The author of The Corrections and Freedom has imagined a world of vividly original characters–Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers–and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Purity is the most daring and penetrating book yet by one of the major writers of our time.

51y28tNrnGL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Harper

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“A discreetly sexy novel…of romantic suspense.” —New York Times Book Review

From the New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep, a sensational new psychological thriller about a woman with a secret identity that threatens to destroy her.

How well can you really know another person? How far would you go to find the truth about someone you love?

When Julia learns that her sister has been violently murdered, she must uncover why. But Julia’s quest quickly evolves into an alluring exploration of own darkest sensual desires. Becoming involved with a dangerous stranger online, she’s losing herself…losing control…perhaps losing everything. Her search for answers will jeopardize her marriage, her family, and her life.

A tense and unrelenting novel that explores the secret lives people lead—and the dark places in which they can find themselves—Second Life is a masterwork of suspense from the acclaimed S. J. Watson.

31aYhx22AJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Graywolf

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“Max Porter has written one of the only accurate representations of grief I have ever found in literature. He combines verse, narrative, essay, myth, drama, jokes, bad dreams, and the language of therapy in a way that seems magical, permanent, utterly integrated, as impossible to distill to its components as it would be impossible to remove or isolate grief from love, or from life itself. Says Crow of grief, ‘It is everything. It is the fabric of selfhood.’” —Sarah Manguso, author of The Guardians and Ongoingness

Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar—a man adrift in the wake of his wife’s sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons, who, like him, struggle in their London flat to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised.

In this moment of violent despair they are visited by Crow—antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and babysitter. This self-described “sentimental bird,” at once wild and tender, who “finds humans dull except in grief,” threatens to stay with the wounded family until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss lessens with the balm of memories, Crow’s efforts are rewarded and the little unit of three begins to recover: Dad resumes his book about the poet Ted Hughes; the boys get on with it, grow up.

Part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s extraordinary debut combines compassion and bravura style to dazzling effect. Full of angular wit and profound truths, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is a startlingly original and haunting debut by a significant new talent.

cover-innocentsAvailable from Scribner

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“Dana Spiotta is one of my favorite living writers and in this wondrous and mysterious novel, a spectacular and subtle meditation onsight and sound, she seems almost to channel Jean-Luc Godard: Innocents and Others, like classic JLG,is brilliant, and erotic, and pop.” —Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers

From “a major, unnervingly intelligent writer” (Joy Williams)…“rich, funny, learned, and tonally fresh” (Jeffrey Eugenides), comes a novel about aspiration, film, work, and love.

Dana Spiotta’s new novel is about two women, best friends, who grow up in LA in the 80s and become filmmakers. Meadow and Carrie have everything in common—except their views on sex, power, movie-making, and morality. Their lives collide with Jelly, a loner whose most intimate experience is on the phone. Jelly is older, erotic, and mysterious. She cold calls powerful men and seduces them not through sex but through listening. She invites them to reveal themselves, and they do.

Spiotta is “a wonderfully gifted writer with an uncanny feel for the absurdities and sadnesses of contemporary life, and an unerring ear for how people talk and try to cope today” (The New York Times). Innocents and Others is her greatest novel—wise, artful, and beautiful.

Final Cover Electric PeakAvailable from Artistically Declined Press

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I’m From Electric Peak is a schizophrenic valentine from the broken heart of America. Bud Smith writes with his foot on the gas, driving his damaged characters across the mystic beauty of a country intent on destroying them.” —Kevin Maloney, author of Cult of Loretta

Kody loves Teal Carticelli. He has broken out of the Mayweather, a home for wayward youth, following his threat to blow up his high school with a fertilizer bomb. Kody is on his way to see Teal’s parents, because they forced her to get an abortion. They are about to put Teal on an airplane to Italy, and he might never see her again. But Kody has a gun in his pocket and he is climbing down the water tower to go and pay the Carticelli’s a visit. True love / true wreckage.

51w0uIUWPML._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Available now in paperback from Algonquin Books

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“In The Daylight Marriage, there are two mysteries–the whereabouts of a missing woman and the vagaries of the human heart. Heidi Pitlor explores both of these enigmas with equal mastery, merging a shocking crime story with an incisive portrait of a failed marriage. The result is a novel that is fast-moving, emotionally complex, and ultimately heartbreaking.” —Tom Perrotta, bestselling author of The Leftovers and Nine Inches

Hannah was tall and graceful, naturally pretty, spirited and impulsive, the upper-class young woman who picked, of all men, Lovell—the introverted climate scientist who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon, they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.

But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She has become withdrawn. His work affords him a convenient distraction. And then, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes.

For the first time, Lovell is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife–and to their life together–readers follow Hannah on that single day when a hasty decision proves irrevocable.

With haunting intensity, a seamless balance of wit and heartbreak, and the emotional acuity that author Heidi Pitlor brings to every page, The Daylight Marriage mines the dark and delicate nature of a marriage.