Megha Majumdar is the author of the debut novel A Burning (on sale now!). In a recent interview with Literary Arts’ Amanda Bullock, Majumdar shared some books that she has been reading–and loving–lately. Her picks are below.
LISTEN to their interview in this episode of Long Distance from Literary Arts’ The Archive Project.
by Chia-Chia Lin
From FSG: A searing debut novel that explores community, identity, and the myth of the American dream through an immigrant family in Alaska.
In The Unpassing, we meet a Taiwanese immigrant family of six struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. With flowing prose that evokes the terrifying beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, Lin explores the fallout after the loss of a child and the way in which a family is forced to grieve in a place that doesn’t yet feel like home. Emotionally raw and subtly suspenseful, The Unpassing is a deeply felt family saga that dismisses the American dream for a harsher, but ultimately more profound, reality.
“A singularly vast and captivating novel . . . What makes Lin’s novel such an important book is the extent to which it probes America’s mythmaking about itself.” —The New York Times Book Review
The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia
by Emma Copley Eisenberg
From Hachette: A stunningly written investigation of the murder of two young women–showing how a violent crime casts a shadow over an entire community. In the early evening of June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived. For thirteen years, no one was prosecuted for the “Rainbow Murders,” though deep suspicion was cast on a succession of local residents in the community, depicted as poor, dangerous, and backward.
Emma Copley Eisenberg spent years living in Pocahontas and re-investigating these brutal acts. Using the past and the present, she shows how this mysterious act of violence has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and the stories they tell about themselves. In The Third Rainbow Girl, Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America-its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence.
A House is a Body
by Shruti Swamy
From Workman: Dreams collide with reality, modernity with antiquity, and myth with identity in the twelve arresting stories of A House Is a Body.
In “Earthly Pleasures,” a young painter living alone in San Francisco begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities, and desire and ego are laid bare. In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s professional crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy. And in the title story, an exhausted mother watches, hypnotized by fear, as a California wildfire approaches her home.
Immersive and assured, provocative and probing, these are stories written with the edge and precision of a knife blade. Set in the United States and India, they reveal small but intense moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world. A House Is a Body introduces a bold and original voice in fiction, from a writer at the start of a stellar career.
“Home was a place you could see every detail of. Not-home was a void, the outside that crept upon you as you fell asleep–the thing you tried to keep at bay as you jolted yourself awake.”Chia-Chia Lin, The Unpassing