More in psychological fiction

From a New York Times–bestselling author: A collection of short fiction “reminiscent of the work of Henry James and Edith Wharton” (Library Journal).
 
Crisscrossing a tumultuous century, these stories evoke lives both blessed and cursed by good fortune and reveal the quotidian conflicts of a wonderfully rich milieu. Here are vignettes that capture the loves and jealousies of marriage and friendship, recall days of a rarefied aristocracy, and hint at a new, ambitious young elite.
 
In the title story, a tour de force of humor and emotion, a clergyman prepares a toast for his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary but gets stuck when it comes to his wife’s five-year affair. The narrator in “DeCicco v. Schweizer” imagines the lives of the plaintiff and defendant and spins a wicked tale about a 1902 marriage born more of convenience than of love. And in “The Last of the Great Courtesans,” we meet the unforgettable Milly Marion, born in 1917, who has bewitched everyone she has met in her long, colorful life.
 
Whether these stories concern an anxious draft dodger, a repentant headmaster, or a mischievous writer who ill-advisedly draws from her own family for her fiction, they all offer soulful glimpses into an uncommon world, preserved in our past and yet surprisingly close to our hearts.
 
“His themes are universal—ambition, greed, disappointment, compromise. Some of the most memorable characters are women, trying to find their way in a time of more restricted choices . . . It’s easy to get lost in the author’s elegant and restrained prose.” —Booklist
San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of the Year

Boston Globe’s “Best Fiction of 2014”

Roxane Gay’s Top Ten Books of the Year     

An Amazon Best Short Story Collection of 2014

An iBook Best of 2014  

A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories which illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, as seen through the lens of the natural world.

Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our struggle to not only thrive, but survive. In “Girl on Girl,” a high school freshman goes to disturbing lengths to help an old friend. An insatiable temptress pursues the one man she can’t have in “Meteorologist Dave Santana.” And in the title story, a long fraught friendship comes undone when three buddies get impossibly lost on a lake it is impossible to get lost on. In Diane Cook’s perilous worlds, the quotidian surface conceals an unexpected surreality that illuminates different facets of our curious, troubling, and bewildering behavior.

Other stories explore situations pulled directly from the wild, imposing on human lives the danger, tension, and precariousness of the natural world: a pack of not-needed boys take refuge in a murky forest and compete against each other for their next meal; an alpha male is pursued through city streets by murderous rivals and desirous women; helpless newborns are snatched by a man who stalks them from their suburban yards. Through these characters Cook asks: What is at the root of our most heartless, selfish impulses? Why are people drawn together in such messy, complicated, needful ways? When the unexpected intrudes upon the routine, what do we discover about ourselves?

As entertaining as it is dangerous, this accomplished collection explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, where nature acts as a catalyst for human drama and lays bare our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires.

Shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize

Internationally acclaimed for her five brilliant novels, Elizabeth Harrower is also the author of a small body of short fiction. A Few Days in the Country brings together for the first time her stories published in Australian journals in the 1960s and 1970s, along with those from her archives—including ‘Alice’, published for the first time earlier this year in the New Yorker.

Essential reading for Harrower fans, these finely turned pieces show a broader range than the novels, ranging from caustic satires to gentler explorations of friendship.

Elizabeth Harrower is the author of the novels Down in the City, The Long Prospect, The Catherine Wheel and The Watch Tower—all of which have been republished as Text Classics—and In Certain Circles, which was published in 2014 and in early 2015 was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime. Elizabeth lives in Sydney.

‘Harrower has the disconcerting knack of looking at life and seeing it unadorned.’ Australian Financial Review, Best Books of 2015

‘Vital, vivid stories by a master storyteller.’ Joan London, Age/Sydney Morning Herald, Best Books of 2015

‘One has to think hard of a book in which so much pleasure has been wrenched from so much pain. While the skies are overcast here, what happens on the ground is brightly lit, hilariously cast by lashings of irony and overstatement...This is the work of an activist in disguise as an entertainer.’ John Freeman, Australian

‘Enchanting...That Harrower has, up until recently, been denied a place in the Australian literary canon, is a tragedy—one that can only be remedied by reading her. A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories is a fantastic place to start.’ Lip Mag

‘Lyrical, insightful and finely tuned.’ Otago Daily Times

‘The range of stories and styles demonstrates Harrower’s extraordinary literary skill...A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories offers no sure-fire formulas, but through its interrogation of characters’ psychological motivations it affords a deeper understanding of human behaviour.’ Australian Book Review

‘[Harrower] reveals an astonishing facility to reveal a world in a few brush strokes.’ West Australian

‘A Few Days in the Country continues [Harrower’s] remarkable literary rejuvenation.’ Australian, Best Books of 2015

“Eerily beautiful . . . [Chaon] is the modern day John Cheever.”—Boston Sunday Globe
 
“Powerful and disturbing . . . The shocks in this collection are many.”—The Washington Post
 
These haunting, suspenseful stories by acclaimed author Dan Chaon feature scattered families, unfulfilled dreamers, anxious souls—lost, fragile, searching characters who wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland. They have experienced intense love or loss, grief or loneliness, displacement or disconnection—and exist in a twilight realm, in a place by the window late at night when the streets are empty and the world appears to be quiet. But it is not, and neither are you. And since you cannot sleep, you stay awake.
 
“Chaon is able to create fully realized characters in mere pages. . . . This collection is further proof that Chaon is one of the best fiction writers working right now.”—Omaha World-Herald
 
“There are not many fiction writers who can do what Dan Chaon can do. . . . [He is] a literary force.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Intense and suspenseful . . . a highly recommended work, not to be missed.”—Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Mesmerizing . . . gripping, masterful fiction.”—The Plain Dealer
 
“Superbly disquieting.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
Don’t miss the exclusive conversation between Dan Chaon and Emma Straub at the back of the book.

Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.
The first short story collection from a writer who calls to mind such luminaries as Denis Johnson, George Saunders, and Nathan Englander

FINALIST FOR THE PEN/ROBERT W. BINGHAM PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BOOKPAGE AND BOOKISH

When The New Yorker published a short story by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh in 2010, it marked the emergence of a startling new voice in fiction. In this astonishing book, Sayrafiezadeh conjures up a nameless American city and its unmoored denizens: a call-center employee jealous of the attention lavished on a co-worker newly returned from a foreign war; a history teacher dealing with a classroom of maliciously indifferent students; a grocery store janitor caught up in a romantic relationship with a kleptomaniac customer. These men’s struggles and fleeting triumphs—with women, with cruel bosses, with the morning commute—are transformed into storytelling that is both universally resonant and wonderfully strange. Sometimes the effect is hilarious, as when a would-be suitor tries to take his sheltered, religious date on a tunnel of love carnival ride. Other times it’s devastating, as in the unforgettable story that gives the book its title: A soldier on his last routine patrol on a deserted mountain path finally encounters “the enemy” he’s long sought a glimpse of.
 
Upon giving the author the Whiting Writers’ Award for his memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, the judges hailed his writing as “intelligent, funny, utterly unsmug and unpreening.”  These fiercely original stories show their author employing his considerable gifts to offer a lens on our collective dreams and anxieties, casting them in a revelatory new light.

Praise for Brief Encounters with the Enemy
  
“With impressive guile and design, Mr. Sayrafiezadeh uses the arrival and escalation of that war as the through-line connecting each personal drama. . . . These calculated echoes work to unify [his] haunting book in a way that story collections rarely manage.”—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
 
“In his memoir, Sayrafiezadeh told the remarkable tale of a childhood steeped in doomed dogma. His stories . . . offer something more: a searing vision of his wayward homeland, delivered not in the clamoring rhetoric of a revolutionary, but in the droll monologues of young men who kill because they lack the moral imagination to do otherwise.”—Steve Almond, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
 
“Sayrafiezadeh’s eight interlinked stories are just as fulfilling as any novel you’re likely to read this summer.”—The Boston Globe

“A tantalizing fiction debut . . . [that] menaces and mesmerizes.”—Elle
 
“The recurring motifs include 99-cent American flags, putting in a word with the boss, idealistic Army recruitment brochures and unseasonable temperatures. Each time they recur they are more potent, and poignant. The collection is readable, and real, and hopefully a harbinger of more fiction to come from Sayrafiezadeh.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Funny and surprising . . . Sayrafiezadeh’s simple style can fool you into thinking that his struggling narrators are plain and unassuming. They are anything but. . . . Each story compels you to read the next, and no character escapes unscathed.”—The Daily Beast
From the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of Birdsong, new fiction about love and war—five transporting stories and five unforgettable lives, linked across centuries.

In Second World War Poland, a young prisoner closes his eyes and pictures going to bat on a sunlit English cricket ground.

Across the yard of a Victorian poorhouse, a man is too ashamed to acknowledge the son he gave away.

In a 19th-century French village, an old servant understands—suddenly and with awe—the meaning of the Bible story her master is reading to her.

On a summer evening in the Catskills in 1971, a skinny girl steps out of a Chevy with a guitar and with a song that will send shivers through her listeners' skulls.

A few years from now, in Italy, a gifted scientist discovers links between time and the human brain and between her lover's novel and his life.

Throughout the five masterpieces of fiction that make up A Possible Life, exquisitely drawn and unforgettable characters risk their bodies, hearts and minds in pursuit of the manna of human connection. Between soldier and lover, parent and child, servant and master, and artist and muse, important pleasures and pains are born of love, separations and missed opportunities. These interactions—whether successful or not—also affect the long trajectories of characters' lives.
Provocative and profound, Sebastian Faulks's dazzling new novel journeys across continents and centuries not only to entertain with superb old-fashioned storytelling but to show that occasions of understanding between humans are the one thing that defines us—and that those moments, however fluid, are the one thing that endures.

“A California woman fights to recover from resurfaced memories of childhood abuse . . . powerfully imagined and profoundly insightful.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
The novel opens with Barbara, who, after remembering incidents of torture at the hands of her father, has quite literally broken down. Found inside a disabled elevator, she is no longer able to function with her new consciousness of these memories—those which are so resistant to understanding. Confronted with this knowledge of evil, she must begin the painful process of remembering and reconstructing a new whole self.
 
Helping Barbara to navigate her grief and her memories are her therapist, the Psalms, and most of all, the words of Paul Celan. Paul Celan: 1920-1970, Poet. An eastern European holocaust survivor who wrote haunting poems about the darker spiritual trials of life and relationships that exhibit a compact style that fuses broken words and chopped syntax to produce a stark musicality.
 
This is a novel about a woman who goes to hell and back. It’s a story that affirms the resilience of the human spirit and the healing power of love and faith.
 
“The Memory Room marks the rarest of occurrences—the debut of a literary master.” —Janet Fitch, #1 national bestselling author of White Oleander
 
“With subtlety, restraint and an extraordinary eye for detail, Rakow has constructed a breathtaking debut that avoids the clichés of abuse narratives as it tests the boundaries of prose and poetry.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Francesca Lia] Block writes about the real Los Angeles better than anyone since Raymond Chandler.”—The New York Times Book Review

“[Block] uses language like a jeweled sword glittering as it cuts to the heart.”—Kirkus Reviews

After enduring from afar a seemingly endless series of outside worldwide disasters—including 9/11 and the Asian tsunami—while living in earthquake-prone Los Angeles, a bereft Katrina experiences deep inner longings for some sense of permanence, meaning, and intimacy. A preschool teacher contemplating the unsettling challenges of her mid-life, she finds solace in the company of her dear friend Grace, and conflict in the arms of a narcissistic yoga instructor, Jasper.

In this intertwining series of emotionally charged stories, wistful characters weave together a dance of joy and sorrow, gain and loss, harmony and dissonance. Beautifully written, Quakeland speaks in a deeply stirring female voice to an unspoken sense of universal longing that seems quietly prevalent in these times. It is a brave, poetic work that acknowledges the pain and loss we live with every day, and offers hope—through art and through connection—of something more.

Francesca Lia Block is renowned for her groundbreaking novels and stories, including the best-selling Weetzie Bat—postmodern, magic-realist tales for all ages. Her work transports readers through the harsh landscapes of contemporary life to magic realms of the senses where love is always a saving grace. She lives in Los Angeles.

Finalist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize
Winner of the 2016 Paris Review Plimpton Prize for Fiction

A magnificent and ambitiously conceived portrait of contemporary life, by a genius of realism

Nine men. Each of them at a different stage in life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving--in the suburbs of Prague, in an overdeveloped Alpine village, beside a Belgian motorway, in a dingy Cyprus hotel--to understand what it means to be alive, here and now. Tracing a dramatic arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, the ostensibly separate narratives of All That Man Is aggregate into a picture of a single shared existence, a picture that interrogates the state of modern manhood while bringing to life, unforgettably, the physical and emotional terrain of an increasingly globalized Europe. And so these nine lives form an ingenious and new kind of novel, in which David Szalay expertly plots a dark predicament for the twenty-first-century man.

Dark and disturbing, but also often wickedly and uproariously comic, All That Man Is is notable for the acute psychological penetration Szalay brings to bear on his characters, from the working-class ex-grunt to the pompous college student, the middle-aged loser to the Russian oligarch. Steadily and mercilessly, as this brilliantly conceived book progresses, the protagonist at the center of each chapter is older than the last one, it gets colder out, and All That Man Is gathers exquisite power. Szalay is a writer of supreme gifts--a master of a new kind of realism that vibrates with detail, intelligence, relevance, and devastating pathos.

Every once in a blue moon, a masterful writer dives into gothic waters and emerges with a novel that—like Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Minette Walters's The Breaker, and Donna Tartt's The Little Friend—simultaneously celebrates and transcends the tradition. Welcome Margaret Leroy to the clan.

What's the matter with Sylvie?

Such a pretty girl. Four years old; well loved by her young mother, Grace. But there's something . . . "off " about the child. Her deathly fear of water; her night terrors; most of all, her fixation with a photo of an Irish seaside town called Coldharbour.

"Sylvie, tell me about your picture. Why's it so special, sweetheart?" My heart is racing, but I try to make my voice quite calm.

"That's my seaside, Grace." Very matter-of-fact, as though this should be obvious. "I lived there, Grace. Before."

Grace doesn't know what to do with this revelation—she's barely scraping by as it is. A single mother with no family, Grace works full-time at a London flower shop to support herself and Sylvie. Overwhelmed by her inability to help her daughter, she turns to Adam Winters, a dashing psychology professor with some unusual theories about what might be troubling the child. Together, they travel to seemingly idyllic Coldharbour, hoping to understand Sylvie's mysterious connection to the place. Impossible as it may seem, Grace has to accept that her daughter may be remembering a past life. And not only that: the danger bedeviling Sylvie from her past life is still very much a threat to her in this one.

Margaret Leroy has been celebrated for writing "like a dream," and her previous novels have been praised for their "hypnotic prose" and "sensuously ethereal, subtly electric drama." Now, in Yes, My Darling Daughter, Leroy offers a novel both haunted and haunting—a wonderfully original, deliciously suspenseful story that enthralls from the first page to the very last.

“A quartet of shrewd and unnerving novellas about toxic entanglements” from the National Book Award–winning author (Booklist).
 
Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most prominent writers of her generation, and she is fearless when exploring the most disturbing corners of human nature. In Evil Eye, Oates offers four chilling tales about love so powerful that people might die—or kill—for it.
 
In the title story, we meet Mariana, the young fourth wife of a prominent intellectual. When her husband’s first wife comes to visit, Mariana learns a terrible secret that threatens her marriage and sanity.
 
In “So Near Any Times Always,” shy teenager Lizbeth meets Desmond, a charming older boy who offers the first spark of romance. Yet as their relationship blossoms, Lizbeth realizes that a menacing soul lies beneath Desmond’s perfect façade.
 
In “The Execution,” spoiled college student Bart Hansen has planned the perfect crime to get back at his condescending parents. What he didn’t plan on was the resilience of his mother’s love, even in the face of death.
 
And in “The Flatbed,” childhood trauma has prevented Cecelia from enjoying physical intimacy with a man. But when she meets the love of her life, Cecelia must confront the demon who stole her innocence long ago.
 
With the razor-sharp prose that has made Joyce Carol Oates a living legend, Evil Eye shows love as sporadically magical, mysterious, and murderous.
 
“A dazzling, disturbing, tour de force of Gothic suspense: four odd, compelling, ingeniously narrated tales that gain in power and resonance when read in conjunction with each other.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Exquisitely suspenseful. . . . The relationships between the damaged, sometimes monstrous individuals who people these pages will keep the reader riveted.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017

An electrifying first collection from one of the most exciting short story writers of our time

"I can’t recall the last time I laughed this hard at a book. Simultaneously, I’m shocked and scandalized. She’s brilliant, this young woman."—David Sedaris

Ottessa Moshfegh's debut novel Eileen was one of the literary events of 2015. Garlanded with critical acclaim, it was named a book of the year by The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. But as many critics noted, Moshfegh is particularly held in awe for her short stories. Homesick for Another World is the rare case where an author's short story collection is if anything more anticipated than her novel.

And for good reason. There's something eerily unsettling about Ottessa Moshfegh's stories, something almost dangerous, while also being delightful, and even laugh-out-loud funny. Her characters  are all unsteady on their feet in one way or another; they all yearn for connection and betterment, though each in very different ways, but they are often tripped up by their own baser impulses and existential insecurities. Homesick for Another World is a master class in the varieties of self-deception across the gamut of individuals representing the human condition. But part of the unique quality of her voice, the echt Moshfeghian experience, is the way the grotesque and the outrageous are infused with tenderness and compassion.  Moshfegh is our Flannery O'Connor, and Homesick for Another World is her Everything That Rises Must Converge or A Good Man is Hard to Find. The flesh is weak; the timber is crooked; people are cruel to each other, and stupid, and hurtful. But beauty comes from strange sources. And the dark energy surging through these stories is powerfully invigorating. We're in the hands of an author with a big mind, a big heart, blazing chops, and a political acuity that is needle-sharp. The needle hits the vein before we even feel the prick.
Release The Butterfly is a fast-paced, geo-political, science-based, military thriller drawn from real life in a piece of literary work author Richard Rose has dubbed 'Science Faction.' In his debut novel, the veteran journalist channels H.G Wells and Tom Clancy to tell the story that appears ripped from the headlines. America has just elected its first woman president, independent candidate Lydia Cortez-Simpson. The daughter of a conservative Texas cattleman and his 'illegal' mexican domestic, Cortez-Simpson's vicious political campaign toughens her for the fight of her life against an out-of-control military dictator who has seized control of China and launched a pre-emptive invasion of Taiwan. 'General X' is a misguided, philosophically minded 'patriot' determined to restore China's past glory. Ruthless to the core, General X 'demonstrates' China's nuclear prowess in horrifying fashion and President Cortez-Simpson quickly finds herself in an eyeball-to-eyeball nuclear confrontation. Worse yet, General X has schemed with the disillusioned chief scientist of the Geneva Institute to obtain a fearsome new weapon borne from the world's most powerful particle collider. President Cortez-Simpson turns to Parker James, a spy who can beat you with both his fists and his brains. In a race against time, James teams up with brilliant Taiwanese-American scientist, Doctor Lillian Tong, to thwart Doctor Z's plans to place this planet-killing weapon in General X's hands. In the end, nature itself provides a surprising, decisive twist as the reader is taken on a journey into cutting-edge science and military hardware. Dark matter energy is discovered even as time itself is 'unraveled' in a world where DNA satellite trackers can find terrorists anywhere in the world by just their DNA, essentially ending the war on terror but only beginning the possibilities for humankind to discover new ways to destroy life as we know it.
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