American fiction

Cover image for Belladona by Anbara Salam

Belladonna by Anbara Salam: ‘Sometimes love isn’t enough’

I’m a sucker for covers that fit their books well. When I spotted Anbara Salam’s Belladonna on Twitter, it was that strikingly evocative jacket that snagged my interest although I was concerned it might be a wee bit fluffy. While it’s certainly an easy read, fluffy’s not the word for this coming-of-age novel, set in …

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The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey: A study of a marriage

I’m a great fan of Christine Dwyer Hickey’s writing and was delighted when The Narrow Land turned up. It’s been quite some time since The Lives of Women and I’d wondered if there was a new one from her in the offing. This beautifully jacketed book, adorned with Edward Hopper’s ‘Sea Watchers’, spans the summer …

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Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin: An unexpected treat

I owe my short story conversion largely to Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women. There’d been others along the way but it was Berlin’s collection that sealed the deal. Given that she died in 2004, I’d assumed that was it and so was delighted when Evening in Paradise turned up. Comprising twenty-two stories, this …

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The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara: A book to rend your heart

Set in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Joseph Cassara’s debut was inspired by the House of Xtravaganza, celebrated in Paris is Burning, a documentary about Harlem’s drag ball scene. That alone would have piqued my interest but it’s also from Oneworld Publications, one of my favourite publishers. The House of Impossible Beauties focuses on four characters: …

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