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NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

A tour de force through America’s most transformative decade.

Dazzling and ambitious, this hip, multivoiced fusion of prose, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy spins an epic tale of America’s struggle for civil rights as it played out in San Francisco’s Chinatown from 1968-1977. As Yamashita’s motley cast of students, laborers, artists, revolutionaries, and provocateurs make their way through the history of the day, their stories come to define the very heart of the American experience.

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A girl reaches across an ocean to heal three generations from the aftermath of war.

Nine-year-old Helen Johnson needs to understand why her mother locks her in the closet of their 1975 California home and why her father, recently returned from Vietnam, seems so distant. On the other side of the ocean, Helen’s great-uncle Hideo struggles with the loss of his sister, Helen’s maternal grandmother, who became a comfort woman to American soldiers after the bombing of Hiroshima destroyed the family silk farm. When Helen travels to Japan to meet Hideo they start to unravel the circumstances of her mother’s adoption from Japan and the role that war has played in her family’s legacy. In this beautiful debut novel, Taniguchi weaves a compelling story from the secrets, burdens, and ultimate strength that lie in the human heart.

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Runner-Up for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, Winner of the 2012 Believer Book Award, Finalist for the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction), Finalist for The New York Public Library’s 2012 Young Lions Fiction Award, Finalist for James Tait Black Prize in Fiction, UK “Best of 2012″ Lists, The Guardian

From a National Book Award finalist, this hilarious and profound first novel captures the experience of the young American abroad while exploring the possibilities of art and authenticity in our time.

Adam Gordon is a brilliant, if highly unreliable, young American poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid, struggling to establish his sense of self and his relationship to art. Instead of following the dictates of his fellowship, Adam’s “research” becomes a meditation on the possibility of the genuine in the arts and beyond: are his relationships with the people he meets in Spain as fraudulent as he fears his poems are? Is poetry an essential art form, or merely a screen for the reader’s projections? A witness to the 2004 Madrid train bombings and their aftermath, does he participate in historic events or merely watch them pass him by?

 

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True crime, memoir, and ghost story, Mean is the bold and hilarious tale of Myriam Gurba’s coming of age as a queer, mixed-race Chicana. Blending radical formal fluidity and caustic humor, Gurba takes on sexual violence, small towns, and race, turning what might be tragic into piercing, revealing comedy. This is a confident, intoxicating, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously

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Archer is a sex toy heir. His best friend, John, is as earnest as Archer is feckless. John’s girlfriend, Sara, writes Archer’s semi-celebrated novels for him. Sara’s roommate, Lucas, wishes he’d never lost his girlfriend to the man. Money, friendship, and resentment unspool in the conversations we have as we’re coming of age and coming to grips.

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Armed only with the address on the back of an old photograph and his grandfather’s memories, a young man launches a mission with his girlfriend to reunite his grandfather, an American WWII pilot, with Luddie, the Polish woman who saved him during the war. Through the grandson’s letters to Luddie, the saga of a family with a long and storied history emerges.

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In this small lakeside town, mothers bake their secrets into moon pies they feed to a silent blue girl. Their daughters have secrets too—that they can’t sleep, that they might sleep with a neighbor boy, that they know more than they let on. But when the daughters find the blue girl, everyone’s carefully held silences shake loose

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Norah Labiner’s masterful follow-up to her groundbreaking Our Sometime Sister is an engrossing and innovative work conceived in classical style, popping with pop cultural panache, and exhibiting all the gifts and vision of its author, who was lauded by the Utne Reader as one of the “ten novelists who are changing the way we see the world.” Miniatures is an intensely evocative novel with haunting characters and beautiful, painterly prose that summon the ghosts of Mary Shelley, Marcel Proust, and the Brontë sisters.

Young, impetuous, and possessing a passionate, vulnerable intellect, American Fern Jacobi is traveling in Ireland when she finds work as a live-in housekeeper to famous and reclusive writers Owen and Brigid Lieb.

The eccentric and world-weary Owen has lived in the shadow of scandal and suspicion ever since his first wife, a beloved and iconic novelist, committed suicide in the grand, drafty house where Fern has come to work. Amidst the Liebs’s riddled and deceitful world, Fern forges an alliance with Brigid, Owen’s young and beautiful second wife. When the two share the discovery of a controversial bundle of hidden letters, Fern not only unearths answers to the first wife’s suicide, but also to her own past.

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Sheldon and Eloise Schell are twins, orphans, and the estranged college companions of the rich, scandalous, celebrated Roman Stone. Now Roman is dead, stabbed in the heart, and Eloise and Sheldon must separately tease out their secret past—a burning house, a murdered girl—that is the one story they could never tell.

Moving between the muffled plush of wintry Chicago, the fog-bound darkness of a Lake Superior island, and the even darker precincts of memory, Let the Dark Flower Blossom is a book about the pull of the closed door. It is about the small pleasure of being right, the tremendous thrill of doing wrong, and the lengths writers will go to—lie, steal, kill—to get the perfect story.

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A spine-tingling, intricate tale of love, betrayal, and psychological gamesmanship in the wake of 9/11.

Henry, a New Yorker left destitute by circumstance and obsession, is plucked from vagrancy by a shadowy outfit whose primary business is arranging for staged murders of anxiety-ridden clients unhinged by the “events downtown” and seeking to experience—and live through—their own carefully executed assassinations. When Henry joins this nefarious crew, which includes a beautiful blonde tattooist named Tulip, contortionist twins, and a woman referred to only as “the knockout,” he becomes inextricably linked to its ringleader, the mysterious herring connoisseur Mr. Kindt, whose identity can be traced through twists and turns all the way back to the corpse depicted in Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson. Substantive, stylish, and darkly comic, The Exquisite is a skillful dissection of reality, human connection, and the very nature of existence.

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The book that launched the New Wave literary noir movement—in paperback for the first time.

When the anonymous narrator botches an assignment from the clandestine organization that employs him, everyone in his life becomes a participant in his punishment. In the end, he is called out of retirement for a final assignment: to seek and identify his own assassin.

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What does it mean to be a “fully-processed” Indian in America today? In Night Train, Lise Erdrich offers a sharp-humored and powerful primer. Set in the small towns and reservations of northwestern Minnesota and western North Dakota, her literary snapshots capture lives playing out against backdrops of emergency rooms, supermarket aisles, backwoods parties, family breakfast tables, booze-soaked taverns, and sterile but emotionally fraught offices. As the pressures of daily life collide with the insidiousness of history, these stories reveal the personal struggles and small triumphs of people facing the absurdities of bureaucracy, cycles of poverty and addiction, and out-sized notions of Indian legends and culture.

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A young Filipino American’s riotous adventures through the sprawling, tragicomic landscape of modern-day Manila.

After thirteen years of living in the U.S., Vince returns to his birthplace, the Philippines. As Vince ventures into the heat and chaos of the city, he encounters a motley cast of characters, including a renegade nun, a political film director, arrogant hustlers, and the country’s spotlight-driven First Daughter. Haunted by his childhood memories and a troubled family history, Vince unravels the turmoil, beauty, and despair of a life caught between a fractured past and a precarious future.

Witty and mesmerizing, this novel explores the complex colonial and cultural history of the Philippines and the paradoxes inherent in the search for both personal and national identities.

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When Achilles Conroy and his brother Troy return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, their white mother presents them with the key to their past: envelopes containing details about their respective birth parents. After Troy disappears, Achilles—always his brother’s keeper—embarks on a harrowing journey in search of Troy, an experience that will change him forever.

Heartbreaking, intimate, and at times disturbing, Hold It ’Til It Hurts is a modern-day odyssey through war, adventure, disaster, and love, and explores how people who do not define themselves by race make sense of a world that does.

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In the midst of Occupy, Barbara Andersen begins spamming people indiscriminately with ukulele covers of sentimental songs. A series of inappropriate intimacies ensues, including an erotically charged correspondence and then collaboration with an extraordinarily gifted and troubled musician living in Germany.

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Wade Salem is a charismatic aesthete, drug dealer, and journeyman country musician. He’s also a complicated father figure to this novel’s narrator, whose cloudy childhood becomes both clearer and more confusing through Wade’s stories, jokes, and lectures. Through the eyes of a keenly observant, underemployed record collector, Wade emerges as a sly, disruptive force, at once seductive and maddening.

Shifting between flashbacks from the seventies and nineties, Boarded Windows is a postmodern orphan story that explores the fallibility of memory and the weight of our social and cultural inheritance. Stylistically layered and searchingly lonesome, Dylan Hicks’s debut novel captures the music and mood of the fading embers of America’s boomer counterculture.

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Beautiful and violent, spare and ominous, this wholly original novel explodes mythologies of Southern femininity.

In a multigenerational family saga that captures the rich beauty and passionate despair of the land and its inhabitants, The Pink Institution is a riveting, visceral novel written in a style that elegantly unites poetic prose with historic photographs and texts. It is also a testament to the legacy that war, violence, abuse, and poverty have wrought upon the Deep South. As we follow four generations of determined and relentless Mississippi women from their run-down, post-Civil War plantations to their modern-day trailer parks, the impoverished decay of the Deep South expresses itself through their bloodlines in a haunting reenactment of the past.

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Daniel is pursued by stories. His father, in thrall to a myth, has disappeared; his mother and sister, too; and Lydia, his lover, leaves him and the novel he cannot finish for quantum mechanics, the place where theory tells tales about the real. And then there is Pearl, the girl beneath the floorboards, whose adventures hum alongside Daniel’s own.

In this contemporary, contemplative fairy tale, the autobiographical novel takes on the cast of legend, and the uncertainty of memory leaves reality on shaky ground. Can parallel universes exist? Can a preoccupation with Moby Dick overwhelm the story unfolding before you? Where do you stand in relation to the metaphysics of your own life?

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A searing coming-of-age novel set to the music of chance

In lyric, diamond-cut prose, Selah Saterstrom revisits the pastoral, dead-end Southern town of Beau Repose, following our strung-out, fiercely intelligent narrator through her harrowing adolescence and into the academic halls and back alleys of Scotland. As the feverish St. Vitus’s dance of her youth morphs into slow-motion inertia abroad, an illness brings her home again—to face the legacy of pain she left behind and to find a way to become the lead in a dance of her own creation.

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Savage’s latest novel dismantles the mythic greats of the past—an American South that never was, and a mother’s artistic pretensions that never should have been. In the story of Eve, Savage finds a voice that captures both the frustrations of our degraded world and the tender sympathy it evokes for all our sad efforts to leave something beautiful behind.

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Angel has just lost her father, and her mother’s grief means she might as well be gone too. She’s got a sister and a grandmother to look out for, and a burgeoning consciousness of the unfairness in the world—in her family, her community, and her country.

Set against the backdrop of the 1986 Philippine People Power Revolution, the struggles of surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII in the early 1990s, and a cold winter’s season in the city of Chicago, is the story of a daughter coming of age, coming to forgiveness, and learning to move past the chaos of grief to survive.

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Utterly compelling, Foreign Devil tells the story of Ni Bing, whose desire for a free life earns her the disparagement of family and friends. Amid the turbulence of the Cultural Revolution and the kafakesque rules of contemporary China, she dreams of attending college and moving to America. Trapped in a web of gossip and innuendo, betrayed by her married lover, threated by the local police, and thwarted by the haunting past, Ni Bing finds more than just a way out. By losing her innocence, she finds herself—and uncovers the intricate secrets of her parents. A powerful, engrossing tale of a woman who learns faith and love through fear, loss, and despair, Foreign Devil reveals a captivating and richly evocative portrait of Chinese life.

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The four-month odyssey of a literary lowlife.

Set in middle America during the economic hard times of the Nixon era, this tragicomic, epistolary masterpiece chronicles everything Andrew Whittaker—literary journal editor, negligent landlord, and aspiring novelist—commits to paper over the course of four critical months.

From his letters, diary entries, and fragments of fiction, to grocery lists and posted signs, we find our hero hounded by tenants and creditors, harassed by a loathsome local arts group, tormented by his ex-wife, and living on a diet of fried Spam, cupcakes, and Southern Comfort. Determined to redeem his failures and eviscerate his enemies, Whittaker hatches a grand plan. But as winter nears, his difficulties accumulate, and the disorder of his life threatens to overwhelm him.

A send-up of the literary life and the loneliness and madness that accompanies it, Sam Savage proves that all the evidence is in the writing, that all the world is, indeed, a stage, and that escape from the mind’s prison requires a command performance.

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An atmospherically intense love story and a thrilling, fantastical tale of lost souls in peril.

Set in a dream-like European city reminiscent of Barcelona, along a boulevard teeming with artists who perform as living statues, comes the beautiful and frightening story of a man running from his past, a woman consumed by grief, and the forces that pursue them both. As the protagonists reckon with seers offering answers to insoluble questions, neighbors who take evening strolls with the dearly departed, critics who control more than artistic fate, and shoes determined to lead their wearers astray, they come to understand the price of survival and what it means to travel along the ray of the star.

A love story related in the dark, stylish noir of continental cinema and overlaid with a patina of surrealism, this is a novel where friends are also informers, street theater is the lifeblood of culture, and refuge can be found in the belly of a yellow, papier mâché submarine.