Fiction

RECENT REVIEWS

My Father the Superspy

My Father the Superspy

WHEN LILIAN SHANG, a Chinese-American academic who splits her time between America and Beijing, reads her deceased father’s diaries, she discovers a secret. Her father, Gary Shang, was a Washington-...

Say No!

Say No!

DARCEY STEINKE’S LATEST NOVEL, Sister Golden Hair, begins in the summer of 1972, when Jesse, the 12-year-old daughter of a defrocked Methodist minister, moves with her family from Philadelphia to ...

You Got Pages?

You Got Pages?

 “IF YOU WANT TO WRITE,” my friend Josh Miller said, “go to Les Plesko at UCLA Extension. He’s the best.” It was 1996, Josh was 19 and about to publish his novel The Mao Game with Morrow...

Politics and Pool in Providence

Politics and Pool in Providence

GOOD MYSTERY SERIES create familiarity. I recently binged on Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, mystery stories so solidly set in the Eastern Townships of Quebec that I actually jumped in my c...

Fear and Loathing in Freetown

Fear and Loathing in Freetown

“I’VE COME BACK because I love the mess. Anarchy. Madness. Things falling apart.” So says Roland Nair, the half-Danish, half-American narrator of Denis Johnson’s new novel, The Laughing Monste...

Fictional Forays to a Familiarly Exotic China

Fictional Forays to a Familiarly Exotic China

SUSAN BARKER’s The Incarnations presents modern Beijing through the anguished relations and confused sexuality of a taxi driver, and takes us beyond the glitter and high-rise developments of the Chi...

The New New Africa

The New New Africa

AMERICANS have probably learned more in the last three months about Liberia and Sierra Leone than in the previous 10 years. In the unrelieved darkness that comprises a particular Western imagining of...

We’re in This Barroom Brawl Together

We’re in This Barroom Brawl Together

For a writer whose work deals with the darkest of subjects — suicide — and who has lost two immediate family members to it, Miriam Toews (rhymes with waves) laughs a lot. In Toews’s world, comed...

God Would Bend

God Would Bend

ABOUT 300 MILLION people reside in the United States, hence the title of Blake Butler’s latest novel, in which he kills all of them. Butler, who has published seven books since his debut in 2009 w...

A Funny Process

A Funny Process

IN COLM TÓIBÍN’S new novel, Nora Webster, a widow and her two teenage sons attempt to move on with their lives after the untimely death of the family patriarch. Taking inspiration from his own ch...

Les Plesko Remembered

Les Plesko Remembered

A YEAR AGO, Les Plesko authored his final act by jumping from a Venice Beach roof. Among the things he left behind: a bereft army of students from his long association with the UCLA Writers’ Program...