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Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Donoghue, King, Gurnah, and More

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Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from Emma Donoghue, Ella King, Abdulrazak Gurnah, and more—that are publishing this week.
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Haven by Emma Donoghue

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Haven: “Donoghue (The Pull of the Stars) returns with an intricate slow-burn about three monks who start a monastery on an isolated island in seventh-century Ireland. As it opens, priest Artt dreams about an island where he believes he’s to pilgrimage with two others to found a monastic retreat. He picks the old monk Cormac, a skilled builder and gardener, and the young monk Trian, a piper, and both men pledge their lives to him. They set off on a small boat in search of the haven, and on the fifth day they see two islands jutting from the water. They land on the bigger one, a steep cathedral of rock possessed by an army of birds. There, high on a plateau, Artt, the future prior, decides they will camp then build, soon putting Cormac to work on a great cross and Trian on copying the Bible. As the prior turns a deaf ear to the others’ concerns about dwindling supplies, tensions rise over his monastic demands and their narrowing chances of survival as summer dips into fall. The slow pacing tends to wear, but the narrative picks up toward the end with a surprising twist. Patient readers will be rewarded with a thoughtful tale of faith, isolation, and blind obedience.”

Bad Fruit by Ella King

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Bad Fruit: “King delves into toxic family ties and intergenerational trauma in her hypnotic debut. As a summer heat wave blankets London, the already thin emotional boundary between 18-year-old Lily and her mother, May, dissolves further when Lily’s mind is flooded with images of a shattered glass of milk and a crumpled woman. After a doctor says they aren’t hallucinations but flashbacks, Lily believes the visions are her mother’s memories of abuse. Lily, who grew up with stories of May’s Peranakan Chinese heritage and childhood in Singapore, bends to May’s every whim, such as tasting the partly spoiled orange juice May prefers before serving it to her, and always wearing pink, May’s favorite color. Lily even goes so far as to wear makeup with yellow undertones and colored contacts to hide her eyes (‘white devil eyes,’ May calls them, convinced Lily’s British father is having an affair). Not long after the flashbacks start, Lily meets Lewis, a 30-something lecturer at Oxford. A former teenage runaway from a difficult home, Lewis picks up on Lily’s struggle and promises to help her get to the bottom of her flashbacks. As May’s manipulative behavior escalates and Lily seeks out the truth behind the flashbacks, King rachets up the tension in this perfect blend of psychological thriller and coming-of-age. This author is off to a great start.”

Meet Us by the Roaring Sea by Akil Kumarasamy

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Meet Us by the Roaring Sea: “Kumarasamy’s dazzling if sometimes unwieldy debut novel (after the collection Half Gods) follows a young woman as she tries to unpack the past amid an unforgiving near future. Ada, 26, works as a trainer for an advanced AI model, and on the side, perhaps as a coping mechanism, she translates a manuscript written in Tamil during the 1990s, which she first encountered during her college years. The manuscript details a group of women students at a remote medical college who slowly descend into a cult of ‘radical compassion’ while treating war refugees, inflicting as much suffering on themselves as possible in order to truly understand their patients. After the students receive televisions from the government, their philosophy becomes tested and a schism develops within the cult. Kumarasamy also gets into Ada’s interactions with Sal, an artist whose parents died in a self-driving car accident; and Rosalyn, Ada’s cousin and roommate who illegally performs memory experiments on a homeless man. While some of the thematic threads can feel underdeveloped or untethered, such as the AI subplot, Kumarasamy’s gorgeous prose and quiet meditations on memory will enthrall readers. This ambitious effort has much to offer.”

The Hundred Waters by Lauren Acampora

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Hundred Waters: “In the arresting latest from Acampora (The Paper Wasp), a former artist is jolted from her suburban torpor. Louisa has left Manhattan and her photography career behind to settle in the wealthy town of Nearwater, Conn., with her older architect husband, Richard, and their 12-year-old daughter, Sylvie. Shaken by the death of a former lover from her Manhattan art world days, Louisa begins to mistrust the ‘fairytale quicksand’ of her Connecticut life (‘Grown people need friction to live,’ as the author puts it). Enter the Steigers, an Austrian couple who are big players on the international art scene, and whose artist son, Gabriel, makes brash environmentalist installations (he calls one of them a ‘new ark for our time’). Gabriel soon talks Louisa into an under-the-table residency at the town art center, which she’s trying to whip into shape, and enlists Sylvie’s help in a secret and dangerous project. The entanglements result in a series of literal and figurative conflagrations. Louisa makes for an alluring heroine who is more complex than the average bored, tempted suburbanite. The supporting characters, however, are less well drawn, whether it be the priggish Richard or the committed but comically pompous Gabriel. Still, Acampora achieves a sharp and tense depiction of an illusory and stultifying haven. Overall, it’s enjoyably offbeat.”

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Afterlives: “In Nobel laureate Gurnah’s riveting latest (after Gravel Heart), the lives of three East Africans play out in an unnamed coastal town during the period of German colonial rule in Africa in the early 20th century. As a child, Ilyas is kidnapped by a soldier from the German colonial army. Years later, he locates and briefly reunites with his sister, Afiya, only to enlist with the schutztruppe, a band of African mercenaries, and subject her once more to the cruel treatment of the family who raised her after their parents were killed. Elsewhere, Hamza, a fellow townsman with an enigmatic past, joins the Germans as a mercenary and is subsequently immersed in a bloody territorial war among the European colonial powers. Years later, he meets and falls for Afiya, and their attempts to locate Ilyas, who went missing during the war, close out the novel. Gurnah’s spare, unvarnished prose shines a harsh but honest light on the brutality of Africa’s colonial past and the violence inflicted by Europeans, which amounts to ‘absurd and nonchalant heroics,’ and through his rich main characters, the impact of colonialism and other key global events truly hits home. This profound account of empire and the everyman is not to be missed.”

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