Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times
“Nuanced and smart . . . Serber knows that neglect or disconnect doesnt always turn into trauma or damage. Life isnt algebra. Which events lead to pain, and which to growth and awareness, remains unpredictable. The one reliable truth is that mistakes illuminate the most, albeit with fractured light.”
—The New York Times Book Review
Mothers and daughters ride a familial tide of joy, pride, regret, guilt, and love in these acclaimed stories of flawed, resilient women. Wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons in a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husbands fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of rum, rogue teenagers, and an unexpected tattoo has a woman questioning her place in her childrens lives. And we follow through two decades the family created when capricious, magnetic Ruby, an ambitious college student, becomes a single mother to cautious daughter Nora in 1970s California. Shout Her Lovely Name is a “funny, bittersweet” (Vanity Fair) book that announces the arrival of a stunning new writer.
“Powerful and disquieting . . . Serber writes with exquisite patience and sensitivity, and is an expert in the many ways that love throws people together and splits them apart, often at the same time.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Always, Serber's writing sparkles: practical, strong, brazenly modern, marbled with superb descriptions . . . Take my word: Shout Her Lovely Name will reach inside readers and squeeze. On second thought, don't take my word. Read these lovely stories.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
Winner of the Independent
Foreign Fiction Prize
One of Publishers Weeklys 10 Best Books of 2014
“Surreal and mind-blowing and completely necessary.” —Jayne Anne Phillips, The Wall Street Journal, “Favorite Books of the Year”
“Arresting, auspicious . . . Well-plotted, blackly comic . . . Sharp, tragicomic moments . . . persist in memory. . . . Its opening story [features] a terrorist middle manager who wouldnt be out of place in one of George Saunderss workplace nightmares. . . . ‘The Song of the Goats [is] a cunning gem. . . . If a short story could break the heart of a rock, this might just be the one. . . . The collections last story is so complicatedly good [with] an ending worthy of Rod Serling. Mr. Blasims stories owe more than a little of their dream logic to [Carlos] Fuentes and Serling, with maybe some Julio Cortázar thrown in. . . . Their sequence imparts a mounting novelistic power.” —The New York Times
“Brilliant and disturbing . . . Bitter, furious and unforgettable, the stories seem to have been carved out of the countrys suppurating history like pieces of ragged flesh.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Superb . . . The existence of this book is reason for hope, proof of the power of storytelling.” —The Boston Globe
“Subtly and powerfully evocative . . . Superbly translated.” —The New York Review of Books
“Visceral, full of horror and absurdity . . . Blasim is an Iraqi Kafka with a touch of Edgar Allan Poe thrown in, and his pen spares no one who commits atrocities, Americans and Iraqis alike.” —Brian Castner, “This Weeks Must Read” on NPRs Weekend All Things Considered
“Use[s] Kafka-esque scenarios and magic realism to convey just how surreal and nightmarish day-to-day life for Iraqis has become.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Perhaps the greatest writer of Arabic fiction alive . . . [His stories are] crisp and shocking . . . cruel, funny and unsettling [with] hooks and twists that will lodge in any mind.” —The Guardian
“A modern classic of post-war witness, elegy and revolt . . . Think Irvine Welsh in post-war and post-Saddam Baghdad, with the shades of Kafka and Burroughs also stalking these sad streets. . . . [Blasim] depict[s] a pitiless era with searing compassion, pitch-black humour and a sort of visionary yearning for a more fully human life. . . . Amid all the scars of combat, these stories seek and find comedy, magic, affection and even an urge towards transcendence.” —The Independent
“Line for line and paragraph for paragraph, Blasim writes more interestingly than [Phil] Klay. . . . His content is more strange and striking. . . . Blasim is an artist of the horrendously extraordinary. . . . [His] stories are almost Hemingwayesque in their stripped-down style and content. . . . Blasim has a sense of humor. He must have learned his jokes from the Grim Reaper.” —William T. Vollmann, Bookforum
“Brilliant . . . [A] much-needed perspective on a war-ravaged country . . . It is a slim but potent collection and will go a long way to making Blasims name in American literary circles. . . . Blasim plants his flag squarely in the tradition of Kafka, Borges, and other writers of surreal and otherwise metaphysical fiction. . . . He has a vital subject and takes it seriously: Iraq and its people. . . . He has written a fresh and disturbing book, full of sadness and humor, alive with intelligent contradiction.” —The Daily Beast
“A bravura collection . . . Mind-bendingly bizarre . . . Blasim . . . lights his charnel house with guttering flares of wit. . . . [Be] ready to be shocked and awed by these pitch-black fairytales.” —The National
“Unforgettable . . . Very important . . . [Blasims stories] could only come out of firsthand experience of the war.” —Flavorwire, 10 Must-Read Books for February
“A vivid, sometimes lurid picture of wartime Iraq [by] one of the most important Arabic-language storytellers . . . Violent, bleak and occasionally beautiful . . . Dark and sometimes bitterly funny . . . Most of these stories feel ready to collapse or explode at any moment. . . . The reader walks on solid ground one moment, and the next the ground gives way—sending him tumbling into deep, otherworldly holes.” —Chicago Tribune
“A blunt and gruesome look at the Iraq War from the perspective of Iraqi citizens . . . Blasims stories give shape to an absurdist world in which brutal violence is commonplace. . . . [For] fans of Roberto Bolaño, Junot Díaz, and other writers who employ magical realism when describing grim realities.” —The Huffington Post
“Shocking, urgent, vital literature. I will be surprised if another work of fiction this Important, with a capital I, gets published all year. If youre human, and you are even remotely aware that a war was recently fought in Iraq, you ought to read The Corpse Exhibition.” —Brian Hurley, Fiction Advocate
“Startling and brutal.” —Guernica
“Corruscating, lapidary, deeply unsettling, Hassan Blasims stories are not only without equal, they are a necessary reminder that there is an other side waiting to give voice to the tragic costs of these unnecessary, imposed wars.” —Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, author of The Watch and The Storyteller of Marrakesh
“Blasim pitches everyday horror into something almost gothic. . . . [His] taste for the surreal can be Gogol-like.” —The Independent
“Stunningly powerful . . . Brutal, vulgar, imaginative, and unerringly captivating . . . Every story ends with a shock, and none of them falter. A searing, original portrait of Iraq and the universal fallout of war.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The first story alone blew me away. Dont miss.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“Powerful, moving and deeply descriptive . . . All the stories share a complexity and depth that will appeal to readers of literary fiction [and] fans of Günter Grass, Gabriel García Márquez or Jorge Luis Borges.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Excellent . . . Like hollow shards of laughter echoing in the dark . . . Blasim moves adeptly between surreal, internalised states of mind and ironic commentary on Islamic extremism and the American invasion. . . . Extraordinary.” —Metro
“Iraq's story must still be told, and we need Iraqi voices like Blasim's to tell it.” —More Intelligent Life
“Clever and memorable . . . Agreeably creepy . . . Move[s] effectively between surreal and magical. . . . Blasims use of the real-life horrors of Iraq [and] the fanciful spins he puts on events make the horrors bearable—even as these also often become more chilling.” —The Complete Review
“The first major literary work about the Iraq War as told from an Iraqi perspective . . . Starkly visual . . . Luridly macabre . . . Eloquent, moving . . . Effortlessly powerful and affecting . . . More surreally gruesome than the goriest of horror stories . . . Hassan Blasim is very much a writer in [the] Dickensian mould. . . . These are tales that demand to be told.” —CityLife.co.uk
“Savagely comic . . . A corrosive mixture of broken lyricism, bitter irony and hyper-realism . . . I cant recommend highly enough ‘The Corpse Exhibition, ‘The Market of Stories or ‘The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes. ” —The M John Harrison blog
“[Blasim is] a master of metaphor who is now developing his own dark philosophy [in] stories of profane lyricism, skewed symbolism and macabre romanticism. . . . [His work is] Bolaño-esque in its visceral exuberance, and also Borgesian in its gnomic complexity.” —The Guardian
"Strong, well-developed portraits of veterans' experiences and relationships."—Kirkus
“Passionate, atmospheric,The Heart You Carry Home is the work of a young writer full of energy and promise.”—Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad and others
“Speaking as the daughter, as well as the wife, of a veteran, I can say this book packs an honest punch. The Heart You Carry Home gives voice to generations of soldiers and their families seeking understanding and forgiveness. A testimony to love’s ultimate ability to heal even our most hidden wounds.” —Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children and The Baker’s Daughter
"Here is a tale of family, community, love, and madness, as a woman who is both the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and wife of an Iraq veteran journeys to heal the heart-wounds of war. The Heart You Carry Home combines great story-telling with social questions that are both as current and as old as war. I read it in one sitting."—Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn
"A powerhouse of a novel. Miller captures the emotional minefield of veterans returning home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan with vivid, engaging detail. This novel cuts right to the heart."—David Abrams, author of Fobbit, a 2012 New York Times Notable Book
"In Becca Keller, Miller has crafted a fierce heroine whom you'll eagerly follow across the country, into the depths of a madman's sanctum, and back into the light--stronger but forever changed. The Heart You Carry Home is a story about fathers and daughters, and how the legacy of war not only breaks families apart, but can pull them back together."—Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
“An engrossing tale layered in mystery, told with compassion and - at the perfect moments - wit. Miller gives us a truthful look at the fallout from war, both today's wars and the conflict in Vietnam. A damn fine read.”—Artis Henderson, author of Unremarried Widow
"With The Heart You Carry Home, Miller has crafted a thrilling, surprising, and mercilessly readable novel about the far-reaching effects of trauma, our crippling capacity for guilt, and the long road to forgiveness. Ultimately though, it's a novel about healing."—Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here, All About Lulu, and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
"Call it fiction, but this collection is achingly true to life when it comes to the many ways mothers and daughters grow together and apart, over and over again."
—O, the Oprah Magazine
"The characters are irresistible . . . Serber writes with exquisite patience and sensitivity, and is an expert in the many ways that love throws people together and splits them apart, often at the same time."
—Wall Street Journal
"Mothers and daughters go at it in the way only mothers and daughters can, with full hearts and claws out, in Natalie Serbers funny, bittersweet collection. . . . Its the perfect firecracker of a book to 'accidentally' stick in the beach bag of the freewheeling mother who refuses to give up her independence and grow up, or to leave on the chaise lounge of the type-A daughter whos forced to grow up and never gets to be a girl."
"From its first page, Serber's debut collection plunges us into the humid heat and lightning of a perfect storm: that of American mothers and daughers struggling for power, love, meaning, and identity. . . .Serber's writing sparkles: practical, strong, brazenly modern, marbled with superb descriptions."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Serber is keen on the nuances of maternal bonds, and highlights them with an undeniable accuracy." -- More Magazine, "10 Short Books We Love"
"Mothers and daughters burst from these pages in stories about food, boyfriends, birthdays, husbands and more." --Houston Chronicle
"There is an element of the miraculous in a collection of stories whose characters reveal the fundamental predicament of all parents and children. . . .[Serber is] clearly writing not from some high plane of solitude but from within the mess of life."
"Serbers stellar first collection packs an emotional wallop right from the start...sharp, somber, and sparkling commentary... As provocative as it is poignant, Serbers searingly honest depiction of the complex, contentious, and confusing bonds at the heart of all families heralds an exceptional new talent."
"From the very first page, this extraordinary collection of short stories grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go. It is filled with poignant, thought-provoking observations on the delicate yet unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters. Serber has given readers a remarkable, heart-felt book to be savored, shared and passed on from one generation to another."
—Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
"As its title implies, Natalie Serbers collection Shout Her Lovely Name is a triumphant battle cry of hard-won victory over the stalemate and injuries between mothers and daughters. She leaves the reader amazed at the tenacity, tenderness, and truth of her characters."
—Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men are Gone "Shout Her Lovely Name joins the ranks of the finest books ever to address relations between daughters and their mothers—equal parts love and sandpaper. I ached for these characters and cried at their hard-earned moments of joy. A book to make you marvel that someone really does understand, to make you grateful that she wrote it all down so fiercely, so tenderly."
—Robin Black, author of If I Loved You I Would Tell You This " In the complexities of family triumphs and catastrophes, Natalie Serber is always achingly specific. Between mothers and daughters, women and their lovers, she misses nothing, and in all her scenes, the reader feels the true breath of life."
—Charles Baxter "In the tradition of Lorrie Moore and Tobias Wolff, Natalie Serber's stories uncover the secret hearts of seemingly ordinary people. Funny, heart-felt, and keenly perceptive, this is a book worth shouting about."
—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply and Stay Awake
"Coming of age is a painful and beautiful experience in Natalie Serber's hands. These are funny and poignant pieces, building a book that feels novelistic in sweep, yet true to the precision and direct aim of the short story. A real pleasure."
"A tale of New York that transcends New York, Kathleen Donohoe's Ashes of Fiery Weather is a riveting, finely crafted combination of gritty realism and graceful, poignant prose. With insight, compassion and unblinking honesty, she gives us the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Donohoe's debut novel is a triumph. A star is born." — Peter Quinn, author of The Hour of the Cat
Through fiction of dazzling skill and astonishing emotional force, Siobhan Fallon welcomes readers into the American army base at Fort Hood, Texas, where U.S. soldiers prepare to fight, and where their families are left to cope after the men are gone. They'll meet a wife who discovers unsettling secrets when she hacks into her husband's email, and a teenager who disappears as her mother fights cancer. There is the foreign born wife who has tongues wagging over her late hours, and the military intelligence officer who plans a covert mission against his own home.
Powerful, singular, and unforgettable, these stories will resonate deeply with readers and mark the debut of a new talent of tremendous note.
A blistering debut that does for the Iraqi perspective on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan what Phil Klays Redeployment does for the American perspective
The first major literary work about the Iraq War from an Iraqi perspectiveby an explosive new voice hailed as perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive” (The Guardian)The Corpse Exhibition shows us the war as we have never seen it before. Here is a world not only of soldiers and assassins, hostages and car bombers, refugees and terrorists, but also of madmen and prophets, angels and djinni, sorcerers and spirits.
Blending shocking realism with flights of fantasy, The Corpse Exhibition offers us a pageant of horrors, as haunting as the photos of Abu Ghraib and as difficult to look away from, but shot through with a gallows humor that yields an unflinching comedy of the macabre. Gripping and hallucinatory, this is a new kind of storytelling forged in the crucible of war.
A young woman learns how to confront the lingering consequences of war when she rides along with her distant father and his fellow vets on a cross-country motorcycle trip that will take them away from her new, Iraq-scarred husband and toward a mysterious military cult in the Utah desert.
A novel about surviving on the home front, fathers and daughters, and the limits and limitlessness of love
Becca Keller is no stranger to the way war can change a man. Her Vietnam vet father, King, has been more out of her life than in. Her mother boycotts her wedding because Becca is making the same mistakes she did—yoking herself to a man just back from battle. And Ben is different after his second tour. Within days of the wedding he turns dangerous, and Becca runs to the only person she has left. King, though, is heading West with his motorcycle buddies, out to a place they call Kleos. A mysterious desert compound ruled over by a guru-like commanding officer, it is a refuge for some soldiers, but might be the death of others. There, Becca will be faced with the possibility that she may not know the real damage in her loved ones’ hearts. In finally seeing her father’s demons, she might just be able to start with her husband on their own journey back to peace. The Heart You Carry Home lays bare the violence soldiers bring home, as one woman fights for the men in her life who have been scarred by different wars in disturbingly similar ways. It “combines great storytelling with social questions that are both as current and as old as war” (Karl Marlantes). And it mines the trials of generations of American families to find hope for the next.
A collection of stories about the complicated and powerful ties between mothers and daughters.
An explosive new voice in fiction emerges from Iraq in this blistering debut by perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive” (The Guardian)
The first major literary work about the Iraq War from an Iraqi perspective, The Corpse Exhibition shows us the war as we have never seen it before. Here is a world not only of soldiers and assassins, hostages and car bombers, refugees and terrorists, but also of madmen and prophets, angels and djinni, sorcerers and spirits. Blending shocking realism with flights of fantasy, Hassan Blasim offers us a pageant of horrors, as haunting as the photos of Abu Ghraib and as difficult to look away from, but shot through with a gallows humor that yields an unflinching comedy of the macabre. Gripping and hallucinatory, this is a new kind of storytelling forged in the crucible of war.
A debut novel about the passionate loves and tragic losses of six generations of women in a family of firefighters, spanning from famine-era Ireland to Brooklyn a decade after 9/11.
About the Author
Deborah Harkness is a scholar and writer specializing in the history of science and medicine. She has received numerous awards, including Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. Currently a professor of history at the University of Southern California, her most recent academic publication is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution. This is her first novel.
Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her first book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, a New York Times bestseller, was selected by The Economist as one of the best books of 2003. Her second book, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance—and Why They Fall, was a critically acclaimed Foreign Affairs bestseller. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds in New Haven, Connecticut.
Siobhan Fallon lived at Fort Hood while her husband, an Army major, was deployed to Iraq for two tours of duty. She earned her MFA at the New School in New York City. She lives with her family near the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA.
Jed Rubenfeld is the author of the international bestseller The Interpretation of Murder. He is a professor at Yale University Law School and is one of the country’s foremost experts on constitutional law. He wrote his undergraduate thesis at Princeton University on Sigmund Freud. He lives in Connecticut with his family.
Eleanor Brown's writing has been published in anthologies, magazines, and journals. She holds an M.A. in Literature and works in education in South Florida but will be living in the Denver area, Colorado at pub date.