Literary fiction occupies a special place in the world of books. There are masterpieces that combine elements of heart, fantasy, science fiction, war-narratives, biographies, soul and humor to create something that is unique as well as familiar. Here are ten brand new literary works of fiction by the late Sam Shepard, Fiona Mozley, Elif Shafak, Nora Roberts, Jenny Diski and others that we think are pretty edgy.
Spy of the First Person, Sam Shepard
This is the final work of the late Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, actor, musician and private person Sam Shepard who died in July at the age of 73. With an unnamed narrator to guide the way, we are taken through the perspective, life and memories of his work, life, and travels while undergoing a series of medical tests that take away from his independent life, and force him to become more dependent on his loved ones. The stories are relevant and focus on narratives of immigration, community, and trust. Poignant with unflinching vulnerability, Spy of the First Person is a masterpiece.
The Vanishing Princess: Stories, Jenny Diski
Jenny Diski, the late English writer led a complex life. Often the subjects of her writing involved power, sex, femininity, and loneliness. Here, in The Vanishing Princess, a compilation of stories show a different side than that often seen of the writer. Rumpelstiltskin’s story is flipped on its head, to give a different side; the daughter of a miller rises up with power to rule over a kingdom; a woman strives to create the perfect bathtub. An eclectic variety of stories, this collection is not one to miss, for old fans, and those just discovering Diski’s magic.
Elmet: A Novel, Fiona Mozley
This novel is a finalist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. In a small house in Elmet, in a tiny corner of Yorkshire, a family thinks that they’re surrounded by safety and tranquility, free to live a self-sufficient life. Cathy and Daniel roam the woods, visit a local woman for education and live outside the social norms. Their father works with his hands, building and hunting, but sometimes disappears for days. Cathy and Daniel only see him as their kind protector. As Daniel narrates, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that this peace cannot last. After a catastrophic event, a local landowner shows up on their doorstep, all tranquility and innocence is lost. Part coming-of-age story, part twisted and brutal fairy-tale, this is a gripping novel of revenge and loyalty not to be missed.
Three Daughters of Eve: A Novel, Elif Shafak
If you haven’t discovered the brilliance of Elif Shafak’s writing, this book is the perfect place to start. Set in modern Istanbul, Peri, married, beautiful, and wealthy, has her handbag stolen on her way to a dinner party; as she tries to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground, of a professor, with three young women – a souvenir of a past she has tried to forget. At the dinner party, tensions of East and West, rich and poor, religious and secular ignite. While terrorist attacks happen across the city, Peri’s mind is filled with memories of when she was sent abroad to Oxford, becoming friends with an Iranian girl, and an Egyptian-American girl; their discussion of feminism and Islam become centered on a professor of divinity, who teaches in an unorthodox way. The two layers of events, the past and the present, create a intriguing, and introspective book from this critically-acclaimed author.
The Gardens of Consolation, Parisa Reza, Adriana Hunter
The Gardens of Consolation is a beautiful love story, set in Iran during the 1920s. Talla and Sardar, both teenagers, fall in love, and get married. Dreaming of a better life. They travel from their rural, remote village, over the mountains to Tehran where, settled on the outskirts of the capital city, they watch as one dynasty falls, and a new power rises. Born into their small, illiterate family, Bahram, a boy of brilliant intellect and imagination, becomes a dedicated and fervent follower of Mohammad Mosaddegh, and takes part in the political and social upheaval of his country. A compelling story of love, family, and country, seen across generations.
Record of a Night Too Brief, Hiromi Kawakama, transl. Lucy North
Three stories make up this collection of award-winning Japanese novellas from Hiromi Kawakama, full of emotion, grief, and love. In a surreal experience, one woman seems to travel through the night, accompanied by a porcelain girlfriend, and supernatural elements of nature. In a heartbreaking story of loss, a girl mourns her brother, who is invisible to everyone but her, while the rest of the family welcomes the woman who is to be his wife into their home. In one last story, an accident involving a snake leads a shop girl into discovering the snake-families that everyone is hiding. Surreal, supernatural, and full of memory tricks, this is a book you will read again, and again.
Year One: Chronicles of the One, Nora Roberts
The sickness came on New Year’s Eve, and spread, creating waves of fear. The electricity, government and all sense of law collapses next, more than half the world’s population is gone. As power and science fail, magick (the author’s spelling) rises up to take its place. But as with everything, there is a balance: some magick is good and is evil. Lana, who practices witchcraft in the loft she shares with her lover Max must make her way out of New York City. As the two travel west, they meet others trying to find their way as well: Chuck, a tech trying to hack his way through an offline world; Arlys, a journalist with no audience; Fred, possessed with optimism and hope, surrounded by death; and Rachel and Jonah, a paramedic and doctor determined to keep a young mother and her children alive. The end has come, but what comes after that?
One Station Away: A Novel, Olaf Olafsson
From critically-acclaimed author Olaf Olafsson, author of the award-winning Valentines, this is the story of a neurologist, Magnus, and three women who change his life: a pianist finally receives success after decades of being overlooked; a dancer, whose fiancé dies unexpectedly; finally a patient, comatose, after facing a violent accident. Magnus is the son of one, the lover of another, and the doctor of a third. Their stories are intertwined in a compelling tale of compassion, guilt, obsession, and love, spanning across the globe. An outstandingly beautiful story.
Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace, Jennifer Chiaverini
The sole legitimate child of Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace was a talented mathematician and writer. With her mother determined to rescue her from her father’s reputation, Ada grows up with an education firmly grounded in reality. She is surrounded by mathematics and science, with no sense of imagination – or at least, that’s what her mother thinks. Introduced into London society, Ada is finally flanked by the kind of social and intellectual-life she has always craved. Her friendships will change her life, and inspire her long career as a brilliant mathematician. Chiaverini’s outstanding writing does this story justice.
The Ice House, Laure Lee Smith
For Johnny MacKinnon, things are getting bad. He hasn’t spoken to his son back in Scotland since his son’s heroin addiction broke their relationship. The ice factory he’s run for decades is on the verge of collapse, faced with heavy fines following a mysterious accident. The only way his livelihood will survive is if someone comes forward to say they saw something, which just isn’t happening. Following a collapse on the factory floor, he’s told that he might have a brain tumor, and Johnny’s not sure he sees the point in getting better. With one last chance to try and reconnect with his family, Johnny’s story is equally heartbreaking and complex.
*** BONUS READ ***
Strong to The Bone, Jon Land
This one isn’t technically literary fiction, but we couldn’t resist including it here. From Jon Land, Strong to the Bone is the latest book in the Caitlin Strong Novels. In 1944, Texas Ranger Jim Strong investigates a murder inside a Nazi POW camp. In present day, his daughter Caitlin Strong finds herself in pursuit of the killer her father never caught. With an insidious movement coming from the shadows, armed with a bio weapon and an army, Armand Fisker stands to destroy the American life. But Caitlin Strong, fifth-generation Texas Ranger, and her outlaw-lover Cort Wesley Masters are standing in his way, and aren’t moving any time soon. For those familiar with the mastery of Jon Land’s writing, be sure to take a look at his top science-thriller picks!