Fiction

The Story That Takes Hold

Ishmael Beah writes lyrically in Radiance of Tomorrow about a village recovering from the horrors of war

by Michael Ray Taylor

September 18, 2014 In 2007, Ishmael Beah received widespread praise for his memoir, A Long Way Gone, a troubling account of his life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. In his first novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, Beah lyrically explores a village much like his own as it struggles toward normal life after a wartime massacre. Beah will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ugly Magic

In John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van, a disfigured young man struggles with his demons

by Sean Kinch

September 16, 2014 With Wolf in White Van, John Darnielle, singer and lyricist for The Mountain Goats, has produced an LP of a novel that delves into the damaged psyche of a disfigured young man who retreats into a role-playing game he has invented, a fantasy world where he—and others—can feel safe. Darnielle will discuss Wolf in White Van at Parnassus Books in Nashville on September 24, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

Published Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Ethnic Identity Theft

In Joshua Ferris’s To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, cyber-stalking leads to personal revelation

by Sean Kinch

September 15, 2014 The new novel by Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, tells the story of a Manhattan dentist, Paul O’Rourke, whose practice is in perfect working order but whose personal life is an unqualified mess. Ferris, who is on the short list for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, will appear at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville on October 11, 2014, at 3 p.m. in Room 1AB at the Nashville Public Library. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Monday, 15 September 2014

Victorian Chills and Thrills

The Phantom Coach by Michael Sims is a supernatural smorgasbord

by Tina LoTufo

September 11, 2014 In The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories, seasoned anthology editor Michael Sims has compiled a book sure to send a shiver down the spine of even the most skeptical reader. Included are all the standard tropes of the genre: haunted houses, the walking dead, cursed objects, and eerie landscapes, as well as the expected Victorian flourishes of fainting females and their brave but clueless male champions. Sims will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Thursday, 11 September 2014

No Graceland

Stephen Schottenfeld’s Bluff City Pawn explores the Great Recession’s impact on Memphis through the lens of a well-meaning pawn broker’s scheme to save his failing business

by Ed Tarkington

September 10, 2014 Huddy Marr, the protagonist of Stephen Schottenfeld’s Bluff City Pawn, knows guns—and gold, and guitars, and jewelry. He also knows that the blood bank replacing the liquor store next door to his pawn shop signals the last, irreversible step in the decline of his particular neck of a slumping city. In his debut novel, Schottenfeld capably shows Memphis as the home of a different kind of blues. Schottenfeld will appear at the University of Memphis on September 16, 2014, at 8 p.m. in the Bluff Room of the University Center. He will also appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014. Both events are free and open to the public.

Published Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The World Remade

In Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, a death onstage heralds the collapse of the modern era

by Emily Choate

September 8, 2014 A novel with enormous scope and an ambitious time-jumping structure, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven paints its post-apocalyptic world in both bold brushstrokes and tiny points of background detail. Mandel will discuss Station Eleven at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville on Oct. 10-12.

Published Monday, 8 September 2014

The Weight of Love

Set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War, Katy Simpson Smith’s assured debut considers the complexities of human relationships

by Faye Jones

September 5, 2014 The Story of Land and Sea, Katy Simpson Smith’s debut novel, considers parental love, faith, and friendship in coastal North Carolina at the end of the American Revolution. Smith will appear at Parnassus Books in Nashville on September 11, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

Published Friday, 5 September 2014

Peering Backward

Antonya Nelson’s characters see cause and effect in their own lives—too late to change the outcome

by Susannah Felts

September 3, 2014 Antonya Nelson has often been praised as one of the great contemporary writers of the short story. With Funny Once, her newest collection, she more than delivers on that reputation with nine stories and a novella that are object lessons in exquisitely crafted literary fiction. Antonya Nelson will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Hell is Other People (and Other Ghosts)

In Rooms, Lauren Oliver explores the secrets that haunt both the living and the dead

by Faye Jones

August 28, 2014 Lauren Oliver, internationally bestselling author of young-adult novels, makes her debut for adults with Rooms, a ghost story. In the novel, Richard Walker’s death brings home his bitter ex-wife and estranged children, and memories associated with the house add to tensions between them. But they are not the only ones trapped by memories of this house: Alice and Sandra, now ghosts who once lived and died there, have their secrets, too. Lauren Oliver will appear at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville on October 10-12. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Note So Pure

Nickolas Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs sends four small-town friends into a tangle of heartbreak

by Emily Choate

August 26, 2014 The four friends at the center of Nickolas Butler’s debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, teeter between nostalgia for the young guys they once were and hopes for the men they will become. Now in their mid-thirties, they have begun to feel the weight of the choices they’ve already made. Nickolas Butler will discuss Shotgun Lovesongs at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Tuesday, 26 August 2014

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