Andre Dubus III wrote one of our favorite novels of 2018. It had been ten years since he'd written a novel, and it was well worth the wait. (Appropriately, it was titled Gone So Long.) AD3 is one of our greatest living writers of fiction, and we hope we don't have to wait another decade for his next book.
But while you're waiting, you might want to check out his picks, in which you just might be introduced to one or two talented writers whom you haven't previously heard of.
For more recommendations, see the Amazon Books Editors' picks for the Best Books of the Year.
Favorite Picks by Andre Dubus III
Ma Speaks Up: And a First-Generation Daughter Talks Back by Marianne Leone
I can think of few writers, alive or dead, who can make us laugh out loud in one sentence only to wipe the tears off our cheeks in the next. Marianne Leone achieved this so compellingly in her first book, Jesse: A Mother’s Story, and she does it again here, brilliantly, in this enduring love song to her Italian mother. Like Leone’s own roots in the blue collar neighborhood of “The Lake”, Ma Speaks Up is gritty yet tender, tough but vulnerable, wise and life-loving and irreverent, all in the light and shadow of our shared mortality. In exploring the life of her unforgettable mother, Marianne Leone illuminates themes as wide ranging as social class, immigrant life, the Catholic church, the agony of adolescence, marital and maternal and paternal love, and far more. And like all of the best memoirs, Ma Speaks Up carries us back to the fragmented and sometimes elusive beauty of our own lives. This is an exquisitely rendered book by an immensely gifted writer, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
How Are You Going to Save Yourself by JM Holmes
It is a rare gift to us all when a writer’s talents and subject command equal attention, but that is just what we have here in J.M. Holmes’s superb debut, How Are You Going to Save Yourself? Written with spare, colloquial, and deeply evocative prose, these linked stories capture the contemporary lives of young men trying to find their way in this world, young men who also happen to be black in a post-industrial, ever changing cultural landscape. These powerful stories herald the rise of an important and timely new voice among us, and I will now look for anything by J.M. Holmes.
The Concrete by Daniel Abbott
Every few years, if we’re lucky, there comes along that rare novel that feels dictated from the very pulse of the times in which we live, the one that pulls us in and won’t let go, and when we’re finished, we feel the urgent need to spread the news about it far and wide and right away. Daniel Abbot’s The Concrete is that novel. Written in a street-wise yet deeply compassionate voice, this mesmerizing narrative takes us into the lives of men, women, and children who are trying to survive any way they can, fighting the demons of addiction and violence along the way, taking part in the “flesh game”, trying to love and be loved and do the right thing, even when they sometimes don’t. This is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel, an honest work of art, and it heralds the debut of a remarkable and important young American novelist.
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