National Book Award for Fiction
In a small Pennsylvania town in the late 1940s, schoolteacher George Caldwell yearns to find some meaning in his life. Alone with his teenage son for three days in a blizzard, Caldwell sees his son grow and change as he himself begins to lost touch with his life. Interwoven with the myth of Chiron, the noblest centaur, and his own relationship to Prometheus, The Centaur one of John Updike's most brilliant and unusual novels.
Oates's latest collection explores certain favorite Oatesian themes, primary among them violence, loss, and privilege. Three of the stories feature white, upper-class, educated widows whose sheltered married lives have left them unprepared for life alone. In «Pumpkin-Head» and «Sourland», the widows-Hadley in the first story, Sophie in the second-encounter a class of Oatesian male: predatory, needy lurkers just out of prosperity's reach. In the first story, our lurker is Anton Kruppe, a Central European immigrant and vague acquaintance of Hadley whose frustrations boil over in a disastrous way. In the second story, Sophie is contacted by Jeremiah, an old friend of her late husband, and eventually visits him in middle-of-nowhere northern Minnesota, where she discovers, too late, his true intentions. The third widow story, «Probate», concerns Adrienne Myer's surreal visit to the courthouse to register her late husband's will, but Oates has other plans for Adrienne, who is soon lost in a warped bureaucratic funhouse worthy of Kafka. Oates's fiction has the curious, morbid draw of a flaming car wreck. It's a testament to Oates's talent that she can nearly always force the reader to look.
Thomas Ligotti is one of the most original and remarkable figures in horror literature since H. P. Lovecraft. In Teatro Grottesco Ligotti follows the literary tradition that began with Edgar Allan Poe: portraying characters that are outside of anything that might be called normal life, depicting strange locales far off the beaten track, and rendering a grim vision of human existence as a perpetual nightmare. Just by entering his unique world where odd little towns and dark sectors are peopled with clowns, manikins and hideous puppets, and where tormented individuals and blackly comical eccentrics play out their doom, is to risk your own vision of the world.
A stunning new ebook original story by J. M. Sidorova
Includes an exclusive excerpt of Sidorova’s acclaimed debut novel, . Speculative fiction icon John Crowley calls J. M. Sidorova’s “marvelous.” Karen Joy Fowler, author of , hails it as “everything you could want in a novel.” Now, in this special ebook-only story, Sidorova returns to the world of her captivating blend of fiction, history, and fantasy—offering a mesmerizing new tale of the power of cold.
In April 1814, just days after Napoléon’s defeat by the coalition of the European powers, Prince Alexander Velitzyn, the hero of , is drifting around Paris, coming to grips with the brutality of the war and his role in it. Unbeknownst to him, Alexander strolls through the same passageways as another human being just like him.
Hidden behind costume and makeup, twenty-two-year-old Cherie performs a daily show in the Palais-Royal, a noble palace where shopkeepers and showgirls have set up all manner of risqué commerce—boutiques, gambling rooms, and pubs designed to satiate every desire of the senses. Cherie, though, is an unusual act. Her feat relies on physics, not trickery.
She is a young woman making do with the fate she’s been dealt—not just the terror of revolution, but her own, crippling coldness. Then, one evening, a wounded young soldier named Julien comes to her room, and what happens threatens to upend Cherie’s notion of the world and herself.
In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife’s beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.
This novel, from one of our most exciting young writers, is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage—and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.
Mina loves the night. While everyone else is in a deep slumber, she gazes out the window, witness to the moon's silvery light. In the stillness, she can even hear her own heart beating. This is when Mina feels that anything is possible and her imagination is set free.
A blank notebook lies on the table. It has been there for what seems like forever. Mina has proclaimed in the past that she will use it as a journal, and one night, at last, she begins to do just that. As she writes, Mina makes discoveries both trivial and profound about herself and her world, her thoughts and her dreams.
Award-winning author David Almond reintroduces readers to the perceptive, sensitive Mina before the events of in this lyrical and fantastical work. is not only a pleasure to read, it is an intimate and enlightening look at a character whose open mind and heart have much to teach us about life, love, and the mysteries that surround us.
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.
While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
Reminiscent of Aimee Bender and Karen Russell—an enthralling new collection that uses the world of the imagination to explore the heart of the human condition.
Major new literary talent Ramona Ausubel combines the otherworldly wisdom of her much-loved debut novel, , with the precision of the short-story form. is organized around the stages of life—love, conception, gestation, birth—and the transformations that happen as people experience deeply altering life events, falling in love, becoming parents, looking toward the end of life. In each of these eleven stories Ausubel’s stunning imagination and humor are moving, entertaining, and provocative, leading readers to see the familiar world in a new way.
In “Atria” a pregnant teenager believes she will give birth to any number of strange animals rather than a human baby; in “Catch and Release” a girl discovers the ghost of a Civil War hero living in the woods behind her house; and in “Tributaries” people grow a new arm each time they fall in love. Funny, surprising, and delightfully strange—all the stories have a strong emotional core; Ausubel’s primary concern is always love, in all its manifestations.
“As long as I continue to draw breath, my task is to put down that steel beast, Red Vengeance. If I must give chase to as far as the arctic reaches of the Finnish Gulf or across the blazing steppes to the Sea of Azov, I will hunt it down. I will remain on this side of the Dniepr until its severed hydraulics bleed and black diesel fuel gushes from its mauled, smoking hull. This is what I have sworn! Are you with me, grenadiers?”
With these words Captain Hans Falkenstein implores his small vulnerable unit of panzergrenadiers to swear an oath of retribution before embarking on a hellish personal mission of reckoning. As Army Group South retreats toward the safety of the west bank of the Dniepr River, putting everything in its path to the torch, the crushing weight of the Soviet Red Army snaps at its heels. And yet Falkenstein is determined to stay behind in an effort to destroy a mythic Soviet T-34 tank known to war weary German troops as Red Vengeance. As the Wehrmacht suffers defeat after imminent defeat, Red Vengeance is observed, lurking on the horizon like a predator ready to ambush and devour all those who cross its path. Falkenstein’s mission is personal since Red Vengeance had annihilated his reconnaissance unit on the Kalmyk steppe over a year previously. Emerging from that hideous attack wounded, and quite possibly deranged, Falkenstein seeks revenge for the unwholesome, almost joyous slaughter of his men. He believes that Red Vengeance is no mere machine but a construct of evil operating under the control of an occult force.
With the aid of his trusted bodyguard, Khan, an alleged shaman from eastern Siberia, Falkenstein endeavors to employ the shaman’s magic as well as the weapons from his meager arsenal in order to destroy Red Vengeance and put an end to the myth of its invincibility.
Although I have attempted to be as accurate as possible concerning the historical setting of the novel (i.e.) the retreat to the Dniepr and the scorched earth policy enacted by the Wehrmacht, I wouldn’t characterize the novel as strictly historical fiction. I began in 1997 without a clear intention of writing a full blown novel and especially a book that was over 400 pages in length. I had a few ideas in my head that I wanted to get down on paper and wanted to discover where it would lead. I did a lot of research on the topic and the more I did the more I got hooked. World War 2, and especially the manner in which the war was played out in Russia, was apocalyptic in scope. Researching the material would be at times both emotionally and psychologically daunting. The novel is certainly not an ‘entertainment’ nor do I consider it an adventure; although, for the sake of expediency, it’s tagged as such. I’m reminded of something the French author, poet, and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry had written, “War isn’t an adventure… it’s a disease.”
September 1943. The Wehrmacht has instituted a policy of scorched earth in the southern Ukraine as it retreats to the Dnieper River. Entire armies, civilians, even animals are herded west to escape the onslaught of the Soviet Red Army. All but one man, Captain Hans Falkenstein, or “Mad Falkenstein” as he has come to be known, is determined to remain on the barren burning steppe in an effort to complete his singular mission. While the countryside erupts into flames Falkenstein and a ragtag group of panzergrenadiers, assembled from the whirlwind of a losing war, are pressed into service to help the Captain complete his cycle of revenge. Their orders are to hunt down and destroy the T-34 Soviet tank known as . A front line myth, is known as an unstoppable beast by the war weary German troops. Its appearance signifies doom for men, machines, and entire armies. Stalingrad, the winter offensives, Kursk, and now this retreat to form a coherent line of defense along the opposite bank of the Dniepr, appears yet again. For Falkenstein, is personal. It destroyed his entire patrol and he emerged from the wreckage of that first encounter terribly maimed… in body and mind. He is of the firm conviction that this T-34 is no mere machine but an embodiment of satanic evil. As Falkenstein leads his small vulnerable unit headlong into the abyss, awaits like a predator, with a gaping, bloody maw.
A magical realism story about a man trying to find his father and hearing the tale through the ghosts of the town his father once controlled, is the quintessential Mexican novel. It was the only novel ever written by Juan Rulfo, who also published one excellent collection of short stories, ().
As one enters Juan Rulfo’s legendary novel, one follows a dusty road to a town of death.Time shifts from one consciousness to another in a hypnotic flow of dreams, desires, and memories, a world of ghosts dominated by the figure of Pedro Páramo — lover, overlord, murderer. Rulfo’s extraordinary mix of sensory images, violent passions and unfathomable mysteries has been a profound influence on a whole generation of Latin American writers including Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. To read today is as overwhelming an experience as when it was first published in Mexico nearly fifty years ago.
"Human beings are more productive than ever before, but they're also unhappier. They feel oppressed by the limits of their lives: the boredom, the repetition, the fatigue. What if you could use your sleep to do more—to receive all of the traditional regenerative benefits while problem-solving, healing, even experiencing alternate worlds? Wouldn't you be capable of extraordinary things?" So asks Dr. Adrian Keller, a charismatic medical researcher who has staked his career on the therapeutic potential of lucid dreaming. Keller is headmaster of a boarding school in Northern California where Sylvie Patterson, a student, falls in love with a spirited classmate named Gabe. Over the next six years, Gabe and Sylvie become increasingly involved in Keller's work, following him from the redwood forests of Eureka, CA to the coast of New England. But when Keller receives a commission from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sylvie and Gabe stumble into a tangled, dangerous relationship with their intriguing neighbors, and Sylvie begins to doubt the ethics of Keller's research. As she navigates the hazy, permeable boundaries between what is real and what isn't, who can be trusted and who cannot, Sylvie also faces surprising developments in herself: an unexpected infatuation, growing paranoia and a new sense of rebellion. Both a coming-of-age story and an exploration of the subconscious mind, THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS explores the murky landscape of the human psyche and the fine line that defines our moral boundaries.
A startling novella from the heir to Haruki Murakami and Gabriel García Márquez
Trapped in Tokyo, left behind by a series of girlfriends, the narrator of sizes up his situation. His missteps, his violent rebellions, his tiny victories. But he is not a passive loser, content to accept all that fate hands him. He attempts one last escape to the edges of the city, holding the only safety net he has known—his dreams.
Filled with lyrical longing and humour, captures perfectly the urge to get away and the necessity of finding yourself in a world which might never even be looking for you.
Tokarczuk’s third novel, was awarded the Koscielski Foundation Prize in 1997, which established the author as one of the leading voices in Polish letters. It is set in the mythical village of Primeval in the very heart of Poland, which is populated by eccentric, archetypal characters. The village, a microcosm of Europe, is guarded by four archangels, from whose perspective the novel chronicles the lives of Primeval’s inhabitants over the course of the feral 20th century. In prose that is forceful and direct, the narrative follows Poland’s tortured political history from 1914 to the contemporary era and the episodic brutality that is visited on ordinary village life. Yet is a novel of universal dimension that does not dwell on the parochial. A stylized fable as well as epic allegory about the inexorable grind of time, the clash between modernity (the masculine) and nature (the feminine), it has been translated into most European languages.
Tokarczuk has said of the novel: “I always wanted to write a book such as this. One that creates and describes a world. It is the story of a world that, like all things living, is born, develops, and then dies.” Kitchens, bedrooms, childhood memories, dreams and insomnia, reminiscences, and amnesia – these are part of the existential and acoustic spaces from which the voices of Tokarczuk’s tale come, her “boxes in boxes.”
A multi-generational epic as seen through the eyes of man’s best friend, the dogs who are used as mere tools for the benefit of humankind gradually discover their true selves, and learn something about us.
Danilov, a mild-mannered half-demon sent to earth to stir things up and confuse mankind, is so in love with this planetand a particular earthling called Natashathat he fears his bosses will recall him. So he commits some minor mayhem in the nature of earthquakes and thunderstorms, but not until a bona fide demon visits him from outer space does earth truly shake in its orbit. The two fight a duel over the winsome Natasha, havoc ensues and Danilov is, as he feared, recalled. Wandering in space, he is confronted by the realization that this is truly pandemonium, where no love exists, where knowledge is primitive and its purveyors frivolous and, above all, where music, Danilov's obsession, is never heard. Eventually he is tried and defends himself so ably that he is consigned to earth forever, consigned, moreover, to a sensibility so pure that he hears not only every musical nuancepunishment enough in the demonic lexiconbut the heartbeats of sufferers all over the world.
JRZDVLZ (pronounced “Jersey Devils”) is the autobiography of a sympathetic monster on a centuries-spanning quest for redemption. Based on long-suffering legend and historical fact, it’s about the sacrifice, civility, endurance, and humility required to transform a monster into a man.
Lucius Shepard writes from the darkest, truest heart of America—not the heart of the United States or of North America, but all of America—and he writes of it with rare passion, honesty and intelligence. His earliest stories, the ones that made his name a quarter of a century ago were set in the jungles of South America and filled with creatures dark and fantastical. Stories like “Salvador”, “The Jaguar Hunter”, and the excoriatingly brilliant “R&R” deconstructed war and peace in South America, in both the past and the future, like no other writer of the fantastic. A writer of great talent and equally great scope, Shepard has also written of the seamier side of the United States at home in classic stories like “Life of Buddha” and “Dead Money”, and in “Only Partly Here” has written one of the finest post-9/11 stories yet. Perhaps strangest of all, Shepard created one of the greatest sequence of “dragon” stories we’ve seen in the tales featuring the enormous dragon, Griaule. The Best of Lucius Shepard is the first ever career retrospective collection from one of the finest writers of the fantastic to emerge in the United States over the past quarter century. It contains nearly 300,000 words of his best short fiction and is destined to be recognized as a true classic of the field.
What would you change if you could go back in time? In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time. In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer's, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know. But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold… Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time… From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold comes Tales from the Cafe, a story of four new customers each of whom is hoping to take advantage of Cafe Funiculi Funicula’s time-travelling offer. Among some faces that will be familiar to readers of Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s previous novel, we will be introduced to: The man who goes back to see his best friend who died 22 years ago The son who was unable to attend his own mother’s funeral The man who travelled to see the girl who he could not marry The old detective who never gave his wife that gift… This beautiful, simple tale tells the story of people who must face up to their past, in order to move on with their lives. Kawaguchi once again invites the reader to ask themselves: what would you change if you could travel back in time?
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