Our Riches

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Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Thorpe, Gaige, Sligar, and More


Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from the likes of Rufi Thorpe, Amity Gaige, Sarah Sligar, Ishmael Beah, Julio Cortázar, and more—that are publishing this week.

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The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Knockout Queen: “Thorpe’s fierce third novel (after Dear Fang, with Love) observes the development of and challenges to an intense friendship between two outcasts at a Southern California high school in the early 2010s. Michael, gay and closeted, has lived in a shabby house with his aunt and cousin since he was 11, when his mother was sent to prison for nonfatally stabbing his father. In the mansion next door lives Bunny Lambert, an immature volleyball star who desperately wants a boyfriend and, at 6‘3“ at the end of her junior year, fears she is a ‘complete monster.’ While Bunny copes with an alcoholic father and bullying by her classmates, Michael hooks up with guys he meets online. Neighbors and classmates since middle school, Bunny and Michael don’t meet until 10th grade, and their friendship develops as Bunny explores her ‘girliness’ around Michael, while he can ‘practice being gay.’ When students start gossiping about Michael, Bunny pummels one of the girls hard enough to cause a critical injury. While the novel’s plot is thin and rests perhaps too heavily on the dire consequences of this moment of violence, the two central characters are deeply realized and complex. The result cannily dissects the power and limits of adolescent friendship.”

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Sea Wife: “A marriage implodes and a husband dies due to the strain of a year sailing around the Caribbean, in Gaige’s splendid, wrenching novel (after Schroder). Michael Partlow, an unfulfilled businessman lured by visions of heroic self-sufficiency and idealized memories of his late father, proposes that he and his wife, Juliet—a stalled-out poetry PhD candidate and stay-at home mother—buy a boat, leave Connecticut, and spend a year sailing with their two young children. Despite Juliet’s misgivings and worries, she agrees and the family enters a new wandering lifestyle with moments of joy amid frightening storms, privations, and mounting financial costs. Eventually, the cramped life onboard drives Juliet and Michael into arguments fueled by Juliet’s depression and Michael’s support of President Trump, and Michael ends up dead from dengue fever. Five months after the end of the voyage, Juliet is mired in a deep depression and gains insight into her marriage by reading Michael’s journal, and the story takes a frantic turn when police arrive with questions about a missing person Michael owed money to. Gaige balances the piecemeal explanations of Michael’s involvement with a profound depiction of the weight of depression and the pains of a complicated relationship. Every element of this impressive novel clicks into a dazzling, heartbreaking whole.”

Our Riches by Kaouther Adimi

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Our Riches: “Adimi’s illuminating English-language debut unearths a legendary Algerian lending library and bookstore in parallel narratives. In 1935, French-Algerian Edmond Charlot slowly builds a small publishing empire, releasing books by Albert Camus and other luminaries and opening the Les Vraies Richesses bookshop in Algiers. In 2017, 20-year-old French university student Ryad lands the job of clearing out the shuttered bookshop to make room for a new beignet spot, fulfilling a requirement for his engineering degree. As Ryad interacts with Abdallah, an elderly former bookseller from the shop’s early days, he learns the history of the building he’s been tasked with gutting. These chapters alternate with Charlot’s diary entries, accounting for the bookstore’s 26-year rise and fall, detailing paper shortages during WWII, company turmoil, and Charlot’s sense of being an outsider in the publishing world. Meanwhile, Ryad befriends a young woman named Sarah, and from her and Abdallah learns how important the bookstore’s legacy is to the city and becomes inspired to embrace Charlot’s motto for the shop: ‘The young, by the young, for the young.’ Adimi’s confident prose displays Ryad and Charlot’s emotional depth while nimbly shuttling the reader through nearly a century of history. This is a moving tribute to the enduring power of literature.”

Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Swimming in the Dark: “Jedrowski’s dazzling debut charts an evocative sexual awakening and coming of age amid political unease in early 1980s Poland. At a summer work camp in 1980, 22-year-old Ludwik Głowacki meets the broad-shouldered Janusz, with whom he discusses the repression and loneliness of gay men in their society. In second-person narration addressed to his new friend and lover, Ludwik reflects on furtive childhood desires (‘Years of yearning compressed like a muscle, pulsating mercilessly’) and describes their secret savoring of a banned James Baldwin book. Despite their ease of connection, Ludwik and Janusz are on opposite sides of a political divide: Janusz is happy to work within the system and gets a government job deciding which books should be published, which Ludwik—who has to carefully craft a literary doctoral thesis that won’t go against the party line—sees as censorship. Additionally, Janusz’s sexual relationship with a wealthy young woman named Hania, which he carries on in hopes of benefiting from her father’s political connections, creates conflict between the two men. Readers will relish the indelible prose, which approaches the mastery of Alan Hollinghurst. Jedrowski’s portrayal of Poland’s tumultuous political transformation over several decades makes this a provocative, eye-opening exploration of the costs of defying as well as complying with social and political conventions.”

Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Take Me Apart: “Sligar’s perceptive debut follows two women who appear collected on the surface but silently endure struggles. After 30-year-old Kate Aitken loses her copyediting job at a New York newspaper amid a disbelieved sexual harassment complaint against her superior, she moves to Northern California to take on a temporary archivist position, where she’s tasked with organizing the personal papers of photographer Miranda Brand, whose death two decades earlier was ruled a suicide. Supervised by Miranda’s adult son, Theo, Kate spends hours sifting through letters, receipts, and prints, and begins to suspect Miranda was murdered. As she builds her case, sneaking around to interview locals who knew the artist, Kate develops feelings for Theo and his two young children, and begins to shut out anything not involving the Brands. Alternating between chapters focusing on Kate and epistolary documents by the tormented Miranda, Sligar reveals Miranda’s unraveling throughout her brilliant career as she labors with parenthood and life with a manipulative husband. Though the novel falters somewhat in its home stretch, Sligar shows off a keen ear for dialogue, and Kate and Miranda hold interest. With a cool style and fast pace, Sligar achieves a propulsive exploration of these ambitious women’s inner turbulence in response to an abusive man in each of their lives.”

Little Family by Ishmael Beah

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Little Family: “The allure of wealth tests a makeshift family in this vibrant outing from Beah (A Long Way Gone). Eighteen-year-old Khoudiemata acts as a motherly figure for a group of five young people living on the margins of the city of Foloiya in an unnamed African country that will remind readers of Sierra Leone. They spend their days roving through town and stealing essentials to survive. Twenty-year-old Elimane, a member of the family, connects with a rich man they call William Handkerchief, who enlists the ‘little family’ in shady dealings in exchange for payments of hundreds of dollars. Khoudiemata uses her share to hide the reality of her current situation and befriend a group of young wealthy elites in Foloiya, including Frederick Cardew-Boston, scion of a powerfully connected family. Khoudiemata agrees to a weekend away with Frederick and his friends, but Elimane’s concern about her involvement with Frederick leads to devastating consequences. Beah informs his characters’ blend of street savvy and naïveté with bursts of details about the experiences that shaped them in a bustling and crooked society. Fans of African postcolonial fiction are in for a treat.”

All Fires the Fire by Julio Cortázar

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about All Fires the Fire: “In this playful and scintillating set of fabulist tales by Argentine master Cortázar (1914–1984), characters are shuffled through shifting realities. In ‘The Southern Thruway,’ a makeshift community forms among drivers on a highway as a traffic jam outside Paris keeps them stuck on the road for weeks. The characters form relationships and assume leadership positions, but everyone loses track of each other as soon as the traffic begins to move. In ‘The Other Heaven,’ the narrator moves seamlessly between time periods, leaving his humdrum life in 1940s Argentina to roam the Paris arcades of the 19th century, enjoying ‘grog at the café on the Rue des Jeûneurs,’ ‘the theaters on the boulevard,’ and the company of Josiane, a prostitute living in a ‘dime-novel garret.’ The collection’s standout title story juxtaposes a Roman gladiatorial contest with a failing relationship in mid-century France, suggesting echoes and connections between apparently disparate lives. Cortázar’s predilection for patterns is voiced by the narrator of ‘Meeting,’ who compares a Cuban revolutionary comrade to Mozart, both men seeking ‘an order’ that will lead to ‘a victory that might be like the restoration of a melody.’ Cortázar fans will devour these affecting stories.”

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