Best New Fiction: October 2015


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.

How_Winter_BeganHow Winter Began
by Joy Castro
University of Nebraska Press
October 1st

I hated Queen for a Day; it was dumb. Aunt Ofelia never talked about what happened afterwards. She never acknowledged that the womanthe winner, the queen!would have to hand back her crown and her robe. (I wondered if they cried again.) And then she’d have to return to her life. With a new washing machine, sure, but still: her lifethe life so terrible strangers had clapped hard for her. There she’d be, back in her flowered housedress with the kids screaming and the bills unpaid. A day only lasted so long.

Perhaps best known for her series of literary detective novels featuring tough as nails crime reporter Nola Cespedes, Castro (Hell or High Water) returns with a mind altering short story collection you don’t want to miss. The twenty-plus tales contained in Winter are primarily presented from the point of view of Latina protagonists, thematically speaking however their link isn’t gender or race, but rather how commercialism distorts our world view, obscuring the more important things in our lives—family bonds, friendship, love—and how societal pressures and expectations place enormous, almost impossible weights upon our shoulders. These aren’t just stories. These are realities.

Boxes by Pascal Garnier / Translated from the French by Melanie FlorenceBoxes
by Pascal Garnier
Translated from the French by Melanie Florence
Gallic Books
October 13th

Look Dominique, I’ll be honest with you. I no longer give a toss about Mabel Hirsch, or Sabine, or you, or the money, or my career. I’ve had it up to here with that shit.

Another in a long list of short, grim tales from Pascal Garnier (The A26), Boxes follows the lives of an illustrator named Brice and his wife Emma as they prepare to move into their spacious new home. Well, that is, until Emma up and disappears suddenly. Now alone, despondent, and off balance, Brice fills his time with walks and learning more about his neighbors. Could meeting one of these people, the eager yet strangely off-kilter woman named Blanche be just what needs to turn things around? Don’t count on it.

Thirteen_Ways_Of_LookingThirteen Ways of Looking
by Colum McCann
Random House
October 13th

Give life long enough and it will solve all your problems, even the problem of being alive.

National Book Award winning author McCann (TransAtlantic) returns with a moving, intimate collection featuring four tales about the stranger than fiction aspect of truth. From judges attacked on the street to kidnapped and tortured nuns, McCann leaves no stone unturned in his quest to unearth difficult responses to life’s most probing questions.

Mark_And_The_VoidThe Mark and the Void
by Paul Murray
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
October 20th

Walter just grunts. He knows, of course; he has specialists in every conceivable field, but he still likes to canvas opinions from as wide a spectrum as possible before making a decision, in order, Ish says, to maximize the number of people he can yell at if something goes wrong.

Irish author Murray (Skippy Dies) is up to his old comical tricks in this tale about an author on a desperate search for his next great story and the investment analyst he winds up shadowing and befriending for sinister reasons. As the pair strike up an unlikely friendship it becomes clear that finance isn’t the only thing in crisis here.

Slade_HouseSlade House
by David Mitchell
Random House
October 27th

I know he jumped really, but I like his answer better. Jonah’s taller than me, but most kids are. Last week Gaz Ingram changed my official nickname from Gaylord Baconface to Poison Dwarf.

Mitchel (Cloud Atlas) returns with a genre-defying super-natural tale spanning five decades that’s sure to delight fans of his previous novels. Should we say more? We’re pretty sure the first rule of Slade House is that you don’t talk about Slade House. If it’s not, it should be, especially if you want to keep yourself safe from the strange brother and sister pair of Jonah and Norah Grayer.

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.