Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from Doma Mahmoud, Craig Davidson, and more—that are publishing this week.
Cairo Circles by Doma Mahmoud
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Cairo Circles: “Mahmoud’s uneven debut explores the discrepancies of class and wealth in modern Cairo and the Egyptian diaspora through multiple strands of plot that jump back and forth in time and merge only tangentially. In mid-2000s New York City, wealthy Sheero, an undergraduate at NYU, is gleefully breaking every Muslim law in the book, doing lines of cocaine daily and living with his girlfriend, Carmen, a non-Muslim. Then his cousin Amir sets off a suicide bombing in the city’s subway, killing several other people and leading the FBI to question Sheero. Mahmoud then shifts to Cairo several years earlier for a story involving Sheero’s friend Taymour, whose housemaid’s 11-year-old daughter, Zeina, vanishes, possibly kidnapped. As Zeina’s younger twin brothers, Omar and Mustafa, grow up, their lives diverge, with Omar becoming a drug dealer and later a chauffeur for Taymour, and nerdy, depressed Mustafa studying mechanical engineering. Mahmoud explores the complexities of life in contemporary Cairo through the aftermath of the 2011 revolution. Individually, his characters are well developed, and his grasp of recent history is firm and illuminating. But almost every dramatic situation fizzles out, as the action becomes decreasingly credible and the narrative connections increasingly strained. It’s an ambitious effort with many striking details of life, but it’s undermined by its convoluted structure.”
Cascade by Craig Davidson
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Cascade: “The six tales in Davidson’s wonderful and gritty collection return to the bucolic backdrop of Cataract City, a stand-in for Niagara Falls (and the title of Davidson’s earlier novel). Energized by a familial bond and propelled by tragedy, the opener, ‘The Ghost Lights,’ depicts the frenzied rush of a car crash’s survivors. That bloodline bond hinges and anchors other stories where family runs deep regardless of occupation or circumstance, as in ‘The Vanishing Twin,’ in which two teenage twin brothers trade stories of their ‘devilry’ from inside the walls of a juvenile correctional facility and realize just how different they are from each other. The struggles of a burned-out social worker in the emotionally resonant ‘Friday Night Goon Squad’ are palpable as she attempts to assuage her clients’ family issues while desperately trying to start a family of her own. A circus performer and a firefighter in ‘Medium Tough’ and ‘Firebug’ have their respective crosses to bear, and Davidson portrays each vividly. Throughout, the author displays deep empathy and conveys emotional resonance. The result is a blissful, wholly satisfying assemblage of cinematic stories, sure to please Davidson’s fans and attract newcomers.”
The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by by Nathaniel Ian Miller
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven: “Miller’s captivating debut bears out its eponymous narrator’s observation that ‘a life is substantially more curious, and mundane, than the reports would have it.’ Sven Ormson, an indolent Swedish mill worker with a spotty employment history and a fascination with polar exploration, decides in 1916, at age 32, to take on a two-year contract mining coal on the island of Spitsbergen on the edge of the Arctic Sea. Before his contract is up he loses an eye during an avalanche, an event that convinces the already misanthropic Sven to shun further contact with fellow humans. So begins his apprenticeship as a trapper during the harsh winter months when all but three other hunters have left his portion of the island. Though Sven keeps to himself as much as possible, inevitable friendships and family ties eventually draw him into contact with others, even as his life remains relatively untouched by historical events unfolding just beyond his sphere for the next 30 years. Miller offers a marvelously detailed look at a way of life and a profession practiced in an extreme environment, and though purportedly based on a historical figure, the character’s colorfully rendered experiences are the stuff of powerful dramatic fiction. This has Miller off to a promising start.”