Awad is a bold, stylistic writer with a sly and unfettered imagination, and All’s Well does not disappoint. Its protagonist, Miranda, is struggling with the chronic pain that ended her marriage and career as a Shakespearean actor. When forced into teaching students who reject her authority, she hits rock bottom… and becomes tempted by three mysterious men offering a magical chance for revenge and restitution to her former life. Both fantastical and grounded, this novel is a scathing indictment of the social and medical systems which refuse to acknowledge women’s pain and a compelling exploration of what happens when we give in to our darkest desires.
The poet’s first novel follows Cyrus Shams as he struggles to find his place in the world. After the passing of his Iranian parents--first his mother in a plane crash, then his father after years toiling on a chicken farm--the protagonist is trying to figure out how death can be meaningful. Akbar transfers his lyricism to gorgeous prose, creating characters harboring their own complicated stories. It’s a book brimming with ideas and bizarre dreams of the poetry of martyrdom.
This Booker nominee takes its cues from Orwell and Atwood but centers its dystopia on the domestic, following Eilish Stack's efforts to keep her husband and four children together as a new police state attempts to tear them all apart. Rather than watching countries dissolve and refugees flee from the comfort of armchairs, here Lynch explores what happens when these upheavals happen on our doorstep. With sparse punctuation that gives the prose an extra charge, he makes this prospect terrifyingly beautiful.