Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Yoon, Flattery, Saavedra, Yu, and More

January 28, 2020 | 2 books mentioned 3 min read

Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from the likes of Paul Yoon, Nicole Flattery, Carole SaavedraCharles Yu, and more—that are publishing this week.

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Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Run Me to Earth: “Yoon (The Mountain) asks whether anyone can truly survive the ruins of war in this sparely written gem. In 1969, inhabitants of war-ravaged Laos struggle with political conflicts and a landscape in which civilians regularly cope with the ugly consequences of accidentally setting off unexploded ordnance. Three homeless teenagers—Alisak and brother and sister Prany and Noi, all friends since childhood—are recruited to work for a makeshift hospital set up in an abandoned mansion. The three navigate dangerous terrain on motorbikes to deliver supplies, and bond with Vang, the French doctor in charge. When the day comes to evacuate, the four are separated. Yoon masterfully weaves their divergent story lines, unveiling the different trajectories of their lives. While Alisak manages a bicycle and moped shop in the Spanish countryside, Vang and Prany are imprisoned and tortured for seven years and later plot revenge on their tormentors. Yoon’s eloquent, sensitive character study of Alisak, who deeply misses his friends well into his 60s, illustrates how the horrors of the past can linger, no matter how far one travels from the source. This is a finely wrought tale about courage and endurance.”

Show Them a Good Time by Nicole Flattery

coverHere’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Show Them a Good Time: “Disenchanted characters maneuver through difficult settings in Flattery’s surreal and offbeat debut collection. Though diverse in content, the stories come together through their dystopian elements and comparably cynical protagonists. In ‘Sweet Talk,’ a young teen falls for her father’s employee against the backdrop of a series of mysterious disappearances of multiple women in her hometown. In ‘Track,’ the girlfriend of a has-been comedian withstands neglect and abuse from him while secretly contributing to his downfall through an internet forum. The title story tells of a former adult film actress who confronts workplace politics at her new job as a gas station attendant. A woman navigates dating during the apocalypse and finds it to be equally as disappointing in ‘Not the End Yet.’ In ‘Abortion, a Love Story,’ two college misfits unite to produce a stage play that questions the expectations forced upon them as adults. A seamless blend of reality and the surreal, Flattery’s stories defy genre in an affecting yet unobtrusive manner. Readers should expect to be equal parts intrigued and unsettled.”

Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

coverHere’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Children of the Land: “Poet Castillo (Cenzontle) opens this impressionistic memoir of growing up as an undocumented immigrant with a gripping flashback to when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the then-teen’s family home in Marysville, Calif. ‘We never opened our door or windows again,’ he writes, even though it was Castillo’s father, long-since deported, the agents sought. Moving forward to 2014, a provision of the ‘Dreamers’ program allowed the 25-year-old Castillo and his wife, Rubi, to return to Tepechitlán, Mexico, for a bittersweet visit with his father, who was still hoping to return to the U.S. During the roller-coaster ride of the next two years, Castillo received his American visa, but his father failed to return north (‘We were still trying to cross, still moving in maddening helplessness, a revolving door without an exit’), and his mother moved back to Tepechitlán to be with her husband. Throughout, Castillo examines other borders and boundaries in his life, including being bisexual and bilingual. Additionally, he writes of the difficulties reconciling his professional achievements as a creative writing teacher with his family’s struggles (‘That was my new job, to read and write… and I didn’t think I deserved that kind of comfort’). Castillo writes with disturbing candor, depicting the all-too-common plight of undocumented immigrants to the U.S.”

Blue Flowers by Carola Saavedra (translated by Daniel Hahn)

coverHere’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Blue Flowers: “Saavedra’s captivating novel tells the stories of Marcos, a recently divorced man settling into a new apartment, and A., a mysterious woman recollecting a failed affair. Their narratives cross paths when Marcos receives a letter written by A. that is meant for his apartment’s previous tenant, who was also A.’s former lover. For nine straight days, additional envelopes from A. appear in Marcos’s mailbox, and each letter digs deeper into A.’s troubled romance. Marcos, himself feeling distant from his ex-wife, his young daughter, his work, and his social circle, reads each letter with a growing fascination. After considering hunting for A.’s intended recipient, he instead frequents shops mentioned by A., and as his obsession with her blooms, he shuts out all responsibilities and takes to searching for the anonymous writer. In chapters alternating between letters and Marcos’s reactions, Saavedra steadily unveils the darkness permeating the lives of her protagonists, and in doing so creates a literary psychological thriller that questions what is real and what is imagined. This tale of desire and yearning is impossible to put down.”

Also on shelves: Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu and An Apartment on Uranus by Paul B. Preciado.

is a staff writer for The Millions. He lives in New York.

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