At first glance, this prose isn’t flashy, yet its phrases can dazzle; the narratives aren’t cerebral, but they pose knotty moral problems; the plots are the classic American ones of the road trip, the repeated coming-of-age, the unsettling encounters with other cultures, especially in Latin America, yet each story moves in complex, unexpected directions. The work of a writer renowned for a spare, distinguished output, The Collected Stories Of Deborah Eisenberg (Picador, $22) adds up to a substantial body of work. From her accomplished first book in 1986 through her most recent collection, the acclaimed Twilight of the Superheroes, Eisenberg has chronicled the lives of men and women, mostly in New York, struggling to make sense of their lives, relationships, and careers, but her devastating wit, nuanced satire, and uncompromising yet generous vision, make them much more.

The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312429898
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - March 30th, 2010

Small-town life has the reputation of being constrained by neighbors who know everyone else’s business. This truth is taken to an extreme in the impoverished provincial Chinese town of Muddy River, the setting of Yiyun Li’s powerful first novel, The Vagrants (Random House, $15). It’s 1979, a decade after the Cultural Revolution and another ten years before the Tiananmen Square uprising. Democracy Walls are springing up in Beijing, but no one knows how far they will go. When a young woman is executed as a counterrevolutionary after her boyfriend reports the once-fervent believer’s doubts about the Party, her village is split between those who want to protest and those who fear the authorities. In Li’s vivid portrait of a repressed society, even schoolchildren can become informers, and personal acts bear political consequences.

The Vagrants: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812973341
Availability: Backordered
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - February 16th, 2010

Welcome to Kittur. Aravind Adiga’s tour of this Southwestern Indian city of 193,432 takes place Between The Assassinations (Free Press, $15) of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and her son Rajiv in 1991. Interspersed with maps, history, and sight-seeing highlights, these 14 linked stories from the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The White Tiger  focus on Kittur’s diverse and contentious religions, ethnicities, and castes. Of whatever faith or social level, however, the majority of Adiga’s characters are poor. Poor, angry, and defiant. They may sleep in the streets, beg for money for a father’s drugs, abase themselves before bosses and rich patrons, but these people never lose their essential dignity. Adiga’s searing stories of hard work, betrayal, love, and corruption capture “that strange mixture of the strikingly beautiful and the filthy that is the nature of every Indian village.”

Between the Assassinations Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439153161
Availability: Backordered
Published: Free Press - June 1st, 2010