Best New Fiction: April 2015

Best_New_Fiction

Best New Fiction is a monthly segment dedicated to highlighting the most interesting and noteworthy releases that will be published over the next thirty days.


April showers? When it rains it freaking pours, especially for all the messed up, damaged children featured in the stories we’ve chosen to highlight as the Best New Fiction for the month. Don’t expect to find a bunch of shining examples of happiness below, but do expect to find some mighty fine (and disturbing) reads.


Poor_ChildrenThe Poor Children
by April L. Ford
Santa Fe Writer’s Project
April 1st

In high school the names got worse: Trashy White Nigger, Jew Killer, Wife Beater (though that one gave me hope—if they were willing to call me Wife Beater then it meant they thought I was capable of getting myself one someday, whom I would never beat, of course).

The quote above is taken from Bleary, a story about a boy sent to a correction facility for setting people’s trash cans on fire.

Ford’s collection contains seven short stories just the way we like them-dark, dark, dark! A thirteen-year-old girl takes up with a 20-something guy who believes he’s a werewolf, a girl gets molested by her father, cats are tortured, shit gets set on fire, and plenty of people get murdered. Yeah, these stories probably aren’t for everyone, but they most certainly are for us!


Academy_StreetAcademy Street
by Mary Costello
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
April 7th

It hurt her heart to think of his small head waking up in Aunt Maud’s house, in a room full of cousins and different wall, different voices. A different mother. She thinks of him waking, looking up at the ceiling, or out at the rain.

Longlisted for this year’s Folio Prize and winner of the Eason Novel of the Year at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, Costello’s debut novel focuses on the life of a single woman. Tess grows up in Ireland, winds up pregnant and alone in New York, and finally revisits her homeland fifty years later. Pain, sorrow, joy, and regret. A life well lived. It’s all on display here.


Voices_In_The_NightVoices in the Night: Stories
by Steven Millhauser
Knopf
April 14th

His father says God is a story that people made up to explain things they don’t understand. When his father speaks about God to company at dinner, his eyes grow angry and gleeful behind his glasses. But the voice in the night is scary as witches. The voice in the night knows you’re there, even though you’re hidden in the dark.

The quote above is taken from the crown jewel of the collection, story titled A Voice in the Night, which you can read in its entirety in The New Yorker.

From the mind of Story Prize and Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Millhauser (We Others) comes this new collection of sixteen stories running the gambit from humorous to down right disturbing. As is often the case with Millhauser there’s a bit of something for everyone here (and probably a few you won’t care for as well), but there are few others who have mastered the tricky art of nailing the short story format quite as brilliantly.


God_Help_The_ChlidrenGod Help the Child
by Toni Morrison
Knopf
April 21st

It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me. I didn’t do it and have no idea how it happened.

She’s won the Pulitzer Prize, The National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Nobel Prize for Literature, yet somehow Toni Morrison is reduced to kicking her latest novel off with a reworking of the classic Bart Simpson line: “I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it, you can’t prove anything.“?

God Help the Child is chock full of pedophiles, racism, hippies, disappearing pubes, and lies. We could tell you more, we could take the book a bit more serious when describing it, but its Toni freakin’ Morrison we’re talking about here. You’re gonna read it no matter what we say, good, bad, or otherwise about it. Stop reading this. Start reading the book. At least get it added to your to-be-read shelf on Goodreads and your Amazon Wishlist. Now.


My Struggle: Book Four by Karl Ove Knausgaard / Translated from the Norwegian by Don BartlettMy Struggle: Book Four / Dancing in the Dark
by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett
Archipelago Books
April 28th

Me!

Well that didn’t take long, did it? Just 12 short paragraphs into this one Knausgaard (My Struggle: Books 1, 2 and 3) succinctly states what his work is all about (as if we didn’t already know by this point).

If you’ve been living under a rock however (or dancing in the dark perhaps?), My Struggle is a series of six volumes of autobiographical novels about Knausgaard’s life. This one, the fourth to be translated to English (duh!), finds him reflecting on the period of time when he had just graduated high school and moved away to a fisherman’s village to assume the role of a local school teacher. He’s not really interested in the job, in fact he only took it so he could save some money and then go chase after his real dream: writing about himself for a living becoming a journalist. It should be an easy task, but shit does not go well for him. His drinking escalates to the point that he’s blacking out frequently, he can’t lose his virginity, and—creep alert—he finds he’s developed feelings for one of his young students.


What books are you looking forward to reading this month? Do be sure to write us a charming story about them using the comment form below.


About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.

  • Richard Mason

    Thanks so much for these recommendations. I will definitely look out for a couple of those this month.
    I would add The Art Broker by Brian Hamm. Exciting, fast paced thriller set in the criminal underworld of Las Vegas. It’s one of those books that just seems to breathe an atmosphere. Like I can totally imagine it as a moody, atmospheric movie. I was firmly hooked after only a few pages.
    It’s going to take something quite special this year to top this as the best crime thriller/mystery for me.
    http://www.brianhamm.com/

  • http://www.el-cordovez.com/ Juan Carlos Cordovez-Mantilla

    I just realised that the book I wanted to recommend will be published later in the US (13 Oct) than here in Ireland (1 May). But I can’t wait! The publisher bought the rights to this book from an unpublished author on the strength of the voice given to the historical character of Lizzie Burns, a poor Irish woman who marries Frederick Engels. In the author’s words:

    ‘I wanted to give Lizzie a “mind” that appears larger, more forceful, more fully realized than those of the now-famous personages who surrounded her. I liked the idea of turning a slight historical figure into a massive fictional character.’

    See : http://www.gavinmccrea.com/