The Shimmering State: A Novel

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Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Chin, Murray, and More

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Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from YZ Chin, Sabina Murray, and more—that are publishing this week.
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Edge Case by YZ Chin

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Edge Case: “Chin makes an impressive debut with this sharp take on faltering romance, the American dream, and self-realization. Edwina and her husband, Marlin, are both Malaysian immigrants working for tech startups in New York City. Edwina endures a sexist and uninspiring work environment at AInstein, hoping that if she excels in her job her employers will sponsor her green card application. Then she comes home one day to discover Marlin has moved all of his things out. For the next 18 days, Edwina searches for her husband and tries to figure out how their marriage went wrong. When Edwina met Marlin, she was drawn to his logical mind, but more recently Marlin had turned to psychic dowsing and other forms of divination in the six months since his father died. While Edwina was alarmed by Marlin’s behavior, she also wonders whether her mental health has been damaged by her mother, who constantly criticizes Edwina’s weight and suggests that Edwina’s struggles are the consequences of transgressions committed in previous reincarnations. Edwina’s wry outlook and wrestling with thoughts about what it means to make it in America will resonate with readers. Those who enjoy the work of Charles Yu should take a look.”

The Shimmering State by Meredith Westgate

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Shimmering State: “A dangerous new party drug hits the streets of Los Angeles in Westgate’s ambitious debut. Mem, short for Memoroxin, an experimental, shimmering pill, contains a person’s happy memories, which they’ve selected. While Mem is manufactured to help those with Alzheimer’s, trauma, and mental illness, it becomes a hot black-market item thanks to its ability to allow people ‘to experience a moment as someone else.’ Lucien, a flailing photographer, steals his grandmother’s Mem pills in hopes of seeing his deceased mother through the grandmother’s memories. Sophie, an ambitious ballerina and a waitress at Chateau Marmont, also gets hooked on Mem. Both Lucien and Sophie end up in a rehab facility run by the drug’s producers, where they form a deep connection and Lucien feels they’ve met before. When they’re out, they collaborate on a film project inspired by Lucien’s grandmother’s memory. In chapters alternating before and after the rehab stint, Westgate weaves a tight tale of relationships and loneliness in a city populated by people always on the hunt for the next big escape. It’s a captivating story, one that leaves readers wondering if a life scrubbed of pain and real connection is a life at all.”

Ramadan Ramsey by Louis Edwards

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Ramadan Ramsey: “New Orleans music industry veteran and Whiting Award winner Edwards (Oscar Wilde Discovers America) returns after almost two decades with an ambitious globe-trotting epic as luscious and musical as the city he calls home. The tale takes readers from the Crescent City to Istanbul and finally to the war-torn city of Aleppo, as the eponymous hero searches for his father with an old letter found in a convenience store as his only clue. In between, Ramadan bonds with his grandmother, basks in the beauty of the Mississippi River, survives Hurricane Katrina, and makes countless friends in the Middle East by bonding over basketball, hip-hop, and other bits of Americana that appeal to young men across the world. Ramadan’s resilience, quick wit, and steadfast spirit render him something of a 21st-century update on the characters of Dickens and Twain. Edwards, meanwhile, is a rare writer of deep, paternal wisdom, who can find the deeply, upliftingly spiritual element of nearly everything. (Even a potato chip can be as ecstatically powerful as those “symbolic bodies of Christ” that are offered at communion.) This will have readers enthralled with the beauty of life, despite all its tragedies and sorrows.”

The Human Zoo by Sabina Murray

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Human Zoo: “Smart, crisp prose distinguishes Murray’s action-packed latest (after Valiant Gentleman). The beautiful Christina Klein, or ‘Ting’ as she’s known to her Filipino family, is newly separated from her American husband when she shows up on the doorstep of her wealthy 90-year-old aunt in Manila, uninvited and with no plan for the future. A journalist who reported on the corruption and violence of the Philippines’s populist regime, Ting soon catches up with old friends and an old flame, Chet, whose murky business dealings may be connected to the regime. Meanwhile, her research for a book on ‘human zoos’ in turn-of-the-century New York City digs up a devious entrepreneur who tricked native Philippine Bontoc tribesmen into participating, prompting her to reflect on the historical relationship between the U.S. and poor, indigenous Filipinos: ‘It was as if the United States still needed the Philippines to be recognizable but savage in the same way that Heart of Darkness needed Africa to make Europe seem enlightened.’ When someone close to her dies violently, Ting finds herself embroiled in a dangerous mystery, unsure whether Chet is friend or foe. By interrogating Ting’s privilege, Murray successfully and cleverly avoids writing a human zoo herself. This is captivating.”

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