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Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

The engrossing 10th novel from Nobel laureate Gurnah is filled with compassion and historical insight.

Afterlives book cover

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

Bitingly funny and sweetly earnest, Mathews’ debut is one of those rare novels that feels just like life.

All This Could Be Different

The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li

Not since Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend has a novel so deftly probed the magical and sometimes destructive friendships that can occur between two girls.

The Book of Goose

Calling for a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah

When your heritage and ancestry are the reasons for your oppression, to whom can you turn in order to survive, but to family? Hokeah’s exceptional debut novel follows a Native American man’s life through the many leaves of his family tree.

Calling for a Blanket Dance

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

Egan’s empathetic interest in human behavior is what drives The Candy House, making her companion novel to A Visit From the Goon Squad more than a literary experiment.

The Candy House

The Consequences by Manuel Muñoz

In this story collection, Muñoz forges a new Latinx narrative, wherein all aspects of Latinx life are displayed with richness and complexity.

Book jacket image for The Consequences by Manuel Munoz

Either/Or by Elif Batuman

Selin, the hero of Batuman’s The Idiot, returns with a voice that is more mature, reflective and droll.

Either Or book jacket

The Furrows by Namwali Serpell

Serpell’s award-winning debut novel, The Old Drift, was a genre-defying epic about three generations of Zambian families, and her purposely disconcerting follow-up will reinforce readers’ appreciation of her daring experimentation and keen talent.

Book jacket image for The Furrows by Namwali Serpell

How It Went by Wendell Berry

Taken together, the 13 stories in Berry’s How It Went create a tale that gently unwinds and doubles back on itself, not so much like a river but more like a flowering vine.

Book jacket image for How It Went by Wendell Berry

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

Escoffery’s connected stories offer an imaginative, fresh take on being a man and nonwhite immigrant in America.

If I Survive You book jacket

Lessons by Ian McEwan

This scathing, unsettling novel posits that knaves and heroes come in all guises.

Lessons cover

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Garmus’ devastating and funny debut novel blows the lid off simplistic myths about the 1950s.

Lessons in Chemistry book cover

Natural History by Andrea Barrett

The stories in Barrett’s dazzling collection demonstrate that while history distills events, fiction can bring messy humanity to life.

Natural History book cover

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Ng is undoubtedly at the top of her game as she portrays an American society overcome by fear.

Our Missing Hearts book cover

The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty

Despite its doomed Midwestern setting, Gunty’s debut novel makes storytelling seem like the most fun a person can have.

The Rabbit Hutch book jacket

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

It’s impossible to predict how, exactly, you’ll fall in love with this novel, but it’s an eventuality you can’t escape.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow book cover

Trust by Hernan Diaz

Diaz’s second novel is a beautifully composed masterpiece that examines the insidious disparities between rich and poor, truth and fiction.

Trust book cover

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Stuart’s follow-up to Shuggie Bain is a marvelous feat of storytelling, a mix of tender emotion and grisly violence.

Young Mungo book cover

Discover more of BookPage’s Best Books of 2022.

The year’s best fiction included a remarkable number of groundbreaking story collections—some deeply interconnected like Oscar Hokeah’s and Jonathan Escoffery’s, others bound mostly by theme and setting, such as Manuel Muñoz’s. We also reveled in several major releases from well-established authors, including Celeste Ng, Ian McEwan, Yiyun Li and Gabrielle Zevin.

Sophomore novels from Hernan Diaz, Namwali Serpell, Douglas Stuart and Elif Batuman surpassed the high bars of their debuts, and first-timers Tess Gunty, Sarah Thankam Mathews and Bonnie Garmus made a hell of a splash.

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In Now Is Not the Time to Panic, Kevin Wilson once again deploys his customary humorous, off-center storytelling to artfully delve into deeper matters. Where his previous bestsellers The Family Fang and Nothing to See Here focused directly on weird family dynamics, his latest novel explores issues of adolescent angst, art and even societal madness.

The story is set in the out-of-the-way town of Coalfield, Tennessee, in the blazing hot summer of 1996. Frances Eleanor Budge, “Frankie” as her single mother and triplet older brothers call her, is the teller of this tale. At the beginning of the novel, she is an alienated 16-year-old and aspiring writer. She avidly reads “badass women southern writers” like Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker and Carson McCullers, but in the summer of ’96, Frankie aspires to write a darker version of a Nancy Drew mystery novel—emblematic of the childhood-adult divide she is about to cross.

During a hot day at the town pool, Frankie meets Zeke, another teenage outsider and a talented graphic artist. Zeke’s wealthy parents have sent him to live with his grandmother while they work out their divorce back in Memphis. Frankie and Zeke become inseparable, tentatively exploring a relationship and more assertively collaborating on nerdy artistic projects. 

One project involves a starkly illustrated poster that contains the mysteriously evocative message “The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.” Swearing eternal secrecy about their prank, Frankie and Zeke staple copies of the poster everywhere. The impact is explosive. Fanned by rumors and paranoia, it creates a national stir, resulting in what will later be called the Coalfield Panic of 1996.

For Frankie, the experience is both scary and liberating. She is proud of her work and upset when outsiders claim authorship of her words. Zeke, however, is troubled by the unexpected community response, and he is relieved when others claim the poster as their own. Alarmed by events, Zeke’s parents whisk him away, and for more than two decades, Zeke and Frankie have no contact. Their eventual reunion speaks forcefully about the qualities of loyalty and friendship.

In the end, Wilson’s deceptively transparent prose, with a touch of humor, a dash of satire and a good bit of insight, carries the reader to a humane and satisfying conclusion.

Kevin Wilson’s deceptively transparent prose, with a touch of humor, a dash of satire and a good bit of insight, carries the reader to a humane and satisfying conclusion.
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Appalachia is a place that’s often ignored, forgotten or written over. When the region does become the subject of a book, as rarely as that may be, it’s frequently misrepresented. Barbara Kingsolver brings a notably different energy from her previous work to Demon Copperhead, a novel that dwells in the challenges of impoverished southern Appalachian communities and honors the ways in which our landscapes shape us. She does all this through a tremendous narrative voice, one so sharp and fresh as to overwhelm the reader’s senses.

In many ways, Demon Copperhead is a novel of survival—of finding one’s way through the mess of it all and living with dignity. Demon is born into poverty with only his teenage mother to call family, though she later becomes entangled in an abusive relationship. He faces such challenges as the foster system, child labor and his own desire to find success and a meaning for his life. At each turn, he finds ways to make things work. He’s willing to take risks, he cares about his people and community, and he often looks for the best in a moment, even if he doesn’t fully understand what he’s facing. With each choice, Demon’s spirit comes through, and it is haunting. It’s the reason the pages keep turning, as it’s imperative for the reader to find out how he’s going to get out of the latest mess or scrape, how he’s going to find his family and his own story.

Demon’s story—a tale of growth, challenges, sorrow and surprises—is both a retelling of and in conversation with David Copperfield, Charles Dickens’ novel about an orphan surviving in Victorian England, which was inspired by the author’s early life. Similarly, Kingsolver’s Demon is spunky and full of life as he navigates a complex, uneasy world. But Kingsolver has made this story her own, and what a joy it is to slip into this world and inhabit it, even with all its challenges.

Barbara Kingsolver’s novel is inspired by David Copperfield, but she has made this story her own, and what a joy it is to slip into this world and inhabit it, even with all its challenges.
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Jess Kidd’s novels have an uncommonly stunning tactile quality, plunging the reader headlong into worlds that are both recognizable and strange, where just about anything seems possible. Her fourth book, The Night Ship, is the latest example of this gift. Part historical fiction, part coming-of-age story, it’s an elegantly told tale about two young people whose lives are divided by nearly four centuries but intertwined by circumstance, fate and one famous shipwreck. 

In the early 17th century, a girl named Mayken is on board the Batavia with her nursemaid, bound for the Dutch East Indies. Mayken isn’t interested in being a “fine young lady” for the duration of the voyage. She’d rather explore the underbelly of the ship and learn about the dark things lurking within the vessel. 

Centuries later, in the 1980s, a boy named Gil comes to the island where the Batavia crashed. Living with his detached uncle, Gil feels adrift and lonely. He finds comfort in new friendships and becomes fascinated by the story of the notorious shipwreck. 

Along the way, both children find something mythic to pursue. For Mayken, it’s a monster that may or may not be prowling the bowels of the ship. For Gil, it’s the ghost of a girl who wanders the island. 

Kidd develops these parallel narratives delicately and intricately, with a precision that’s offset by the emotional intensity of her writing. In the early chapters, she makes stylistic connections between Gil and Mayken within the prose itself, then builds upon these initial associations as the story progresses. It’s an impressive juggling act, especially because neither Gil’s story nor Mayken’s ever undermines the other. Instead, they nourish each other, guided along by Kidd’s deft stylistic flourishes. From the smells of the ship to the texture of the kitchen counter in Gil’s new home, it’s all deeply immersive. And through it all, magic always feels just around the corner. 

Whether you’re a fan of ghost stories, historical novels or both, The Night Ship stands a good chance of sweeping you along in its wake. 

Whether you're a fan of ghost stories, historical novels or both, The Night Ship stands a good chance of sweeping you along in its wake.
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Friendships made in childhood have an intensity like no others, as they’re often rooted in immediate and sometimes inexplicable feelings of connection. This kind of deep relationship is the subject of Yiyun Li’s novel The Book of Goose. Not since Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend has a novel so deftly probed the magical and sometimes destructive friendships that can occur between two girls.

Fabienne and Agnes grew up together in the countryside of postwar France. Memories of those days are reignited when Agnes, now married and living in the United States, hears from her mother that Fabienne has died in childbirth. 

As girls, they played together endlessly, with the dominant Fabienne always taking charge. When Fabienne suggests that they write a book together, Agnes complies, but it’s not a true collaboration: Fabienne dictates the story to the more docile Agnes, who also has the better penmanship. Their book is a collection of frankly told stories about the harshness of country life, and it attracts the attention of the village postmaster. Interest spreads as far as Paris, where the book is published solely under Agnes’ name, and the young author becomes a minor celebrity. Agnes is then sent to finishing school in London, where she falls under the tutelage of the controlling Mrs. Townsend.

Now, years later, Fabienne’s death offers Agnes the opportunity to come to terms with the life she created for herself, so far away from Fabienne’s calculations and Mrs. Townsend’s grandiose expectations.

Told by Agnes in brief, succinct chapters, The Book of Goose is an elegant and disturbing novel about exploitation and acquiescence, notoriety and obscurity, and whether you choose your life or are chosen by it. Through her characters, Li studies the sway of manipulation, like the power-shifting game of rock-paper-scissors—a motif which frequently pops up throughout the novel. And though Agnes never stops longing for the friend whose brilliance provided her life with a sense of wholeness, the reader might be excused for believing that it was Agnes’ game to win all along.

Not since Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend has a novel so deftly probed the magical and sometimes destructive friendships that can occur between two girls.
Review by

Pakistani British writer Kamila Shamsie is an adept chronicler of how politics impact families in both England and Pakistan. In 2013, she was recognized as one of Granta‘s “20 best young British writers,” and her most recent novel, Home Fire, won the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her eighth book, Best of Friends, delves into how relationships formed in childhood affect our adult selves, and speculates about whether even the most cherished friendships could have an expiration date.   

It’s 1988 in Karachi, Pakistan, and teenagers Zahra and Maryam have been best friends since elementary school. Zahra is the studious daughter of a schoolteacher and a cricket commentator, and she dreams of a world beyond Karachi. Maryam is the privileged child of a wealthy family that splits its time between England and Pakistan, and she hopes to inherit her family’s lucrative leather-goods business. 

Adolescence brings changing bodies and a new interest in boys. The girls’ growing sense of freedom is compounded by the election of Benazir Bhutto, whose unexpected win brings hope for a more equitable future for all Pakistanis. But when a ride home from a party with their friend Hammad goes horribly wrong, Maryam and Zahra face the limits of their freedom—as well as the ways their differing upbringings shape their reactions to trauma.

Decades later, both friends have found considerable success in London, where Zahra is a famous lawyer turned political advocate for refugees, and Maryam is a venture capitalist funding the development of facial-recognition software. They are still close, yet certain subjects remain off-limits. When Hammad comes to London, the two women argue over how to handle the situation, and their conflicting approaches put their lifelong friendship at risk.  

Shamsie excels at balancing the personal and the political, and she artfully reconstructs the tense political environment of 1980s Pakistan and the rise of the surveillance state in 2019 London to provide ample opportunities for Maryam and Zahra to find themselves on opposite sides of such issues as privacy, privilege and refugee rights. For any reader who finds themselves at odds with an old friend, Best of Friends rings true in its honest, unvarnished portrayal of friendship strained by politics and ideology.

Kamila Shamsie's eighth novel speculates about whether even the most cherished friendships could have an expiration date.
Review by

With his debut novel, TV writer and producer Rasheed Newson (“Bel-Air,” “Narcos”) breathes life into an important pocket of LGBTQ+ history: the political revolution that occurred in 1980s New York City. 

My Government Means to Kill Me follows Trey, a young gay Black man who escapes his suffocating “bougie” life in Indianapolis to find personal freedom in New York City. At first blush, Trey seems like another naive dreamer who will learn all his lessons the hard way, but it’s soon clear that he’s complex and adaptable, and his first-person perspective strikes a perfect mix of witty and vulnerable. He’s running as fast and far as he can from the tragedy of his home life, including his brother’s death and his family’s cruel rejection of his sexuality. He’s well aware of the responsibility of taking control of his own destiny, and he earns his stripes, figuring out how to survive while making friends and enemies along the way.

Newson’s prose is engaging and entertaining, and he captures the dynamics of found families through supporting characters such as Angie, a ferocious and bighearted lesbian who runs a home for AIDS patients, and Gregory, Trey’s troubled friend and potential lover with whom readers will undoubtedly form a love-hate relationship. Their world is a heart-wrenching tableau that offers no easy answers or easy feelings, reflecting the harsh reality of life during the AIDS crisis and the continuing fight for civil rights.

The most notable aspect of My Government Means to Kill Me is the presence of historical figures at key points in the story. Newson weaves important civil rights and LGBTQ+ activists such as Dorothy Cotton and Larry Kramer into the narrative to bolster Trey’s development. As Trey becomes a founding member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), readers get a glimpse into the rich and boisterous political environment of the ’80s. Newsom balances these moments of representation and recognition with appearances from more nefarious figures like “racist slumlord” Fred Trump, who tries to evict Trey and his friends from their home. 

Newson capitalizes on the many powers of historical fiction while ensuring that Trey’s story never becomes stuffy or predictable. My Government Means to Kill Me is proof that writers can revere and play with history at the same time.

Offering a glimpse into the rich and boisterous political environment of the 1980s, My Government Means to Kill Me is proof that writers can revere and play with history at the same time.
Review by

When considering the history of what is now known as Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico, there is a saying among Mexican Americans: “We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us.” It’s a reminder that claims to territory and citizenship rights predate the current boundary between Mexico and the U.S. It’s a rallying cry to tell the true history of American lands and the people who originally belonged on them. With the rise of Indigenous voices in the mainstream, that history is finally beginning to be recognized for its complexity and vitality, its literary power and potential. 

Oscar Hokeah’s debut, Calling for a Blanket Dance, tells the story of Ever Geimausaddle through generations of his family. Before the novel even begins, Hokeah provides readers with a family tree, preparing them for the importance of blood ties in the story ahead. Each chapter belongs to a different leaf on the tree, and from these many perspectives, we see Ever grow from an infant into a man, eventually raising his own kids in the strange double bind of Indigeneity. After all, when your heritage and ancestry are the reasons for your oppression, to whom can you turn in order to survive, but to family?

As Ever comes into his full self, we see the impact that his family members have on each other, shaping the ways they live and love. In the opening scene, for example, Ever’s mother, Turtle, takes Ever’s father, Everardo, and their 6-month-old son across Texas and into Mexico in an attempt to rescue her husband from his addiction to alcohol and remind him of his heritage. From the love languages of food and manual labor, to the easy manner in which Everardo tells lies, this scene is the foundation for Ever’s life and his later abilities to parent his own children.

Hokeah’s prose is punchy and descriptive, filled with Native American phrases and words that come naturally to the characters. This blending of languages is still uncommon in contemporary fiction, but the current Indigenous literary and cultural renaissance promises that more and more voices will grow this singularity into a rich multitude. With television shows like “Reservation Dogs” and “Rutherford Falls” attracting critical and popular attention, it seems that this resurgence is only getting started. 

But of course, renaissance and resurgence are the wrong words to use here. Hokeah, who is of Mexican heritage as well as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, shows that this tradition has been here the whole time, evolving and surviving. It’s the lines in the sand—what we call borders—that are new. Why should we act like these lines are valid and the people are not? Calling for a Blanket Dance proves that the people are more real than anything.

When your heritage and ancestry are the reasons for your oppression, to whom can you turn in order to survive, but to family? Oscar Hokeah’s exceptional debut novel follows a Native American man’s life through the many leaves of his family tree.
Review by

Perhaps it’s too soon to say which books we’ll look back on in 50 years as the ones that defined a generation, but Sarah Thankam Mathews’ debut, a close-to-perfect coming-of-age romp, is surely a contender. Bitingly funny and sweetly earnest, it’s one of those rare novels that feels just like life, its characters so specific in their desires and experiences that you’re sure you’ve met them—or maybe you’re about to. Yet Mathews also captures some unnamable, essential thing about being a 20-something struggling through work and love and late-stage capitalism in the United States in the mid-2000s. In the manner of books that stay with you forever, All This Could Be Different is a singular story that extends beyond itself. 

At 22, Sneha graduates from college into a tanked economy. She immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager, but her parents have since returned to India, leaving Sneha alone. She lands an entry-level job at a consulting firm in Milwaukee and starts fresh in a new city, where she encounters financial successes and catastrophes, makes friends and falls into a heady romance. She relates these experiences in an unforgettable narrative voice: dryly funny, self-analytical, a little sarcastic and full of heart.

Though Sneha is preoccupied with her girlfriend for much of the book, this is actually a story about friendship. Sneha’s new friend Tig, a slightly older Black genderfluid lesbian, tells her that friendship takes a lot of work, and over the course of the novel, we get to see Sneha and Tig do that work. It’s breathtaking to witness this slow and painful process. Over dinners and phone calls and meltdowns, long drives and impromptu parties, Sneha, whose past traumas have made her unwilling to trust others, who longs for love even as she shies away from it, learns what true intimacy requires: to see and be seen.

Lives are made up of so many ordinary moments, so many conflicting emotions, so many messes—some world-shattering, some mundane. It’s all here in this funny, vibrant, heartbreaking book: the ache of new love and the pleasures of good food, what it’s like having money and what it’s like losing it, microaggressions and casual racism and radical politics. There are drunken mistakes, childhood wounds, good sex, bad sex, the American dream, queer love, an explotitive economy and the bite of Midwestern winters. And of course, the pressures and expectations of being a first-generation Asian American immigrant. 

Through it all, there’s the steady pulse of friendship and the quiet work of building a family—all the beautiful details that unfold along one woman’s journey to wholeness and home.

Bitingly funny and sweetly earnest, Sarah Thankam Mathews’ debut is one of those rare novels that feels just like life.
Review by

Even in the dawning years of the 21st century, there are women and girls who would give up anything for a man. That man doesn’t have to be good. His needs and wants, no matter how fickle, would be prioritized over everything, including a woman’s happiness, safety and the well-being of her children, if she has any. This is the bruised and bruising world of Christine Kandic Torres’ debut novel, The Girls in Queens.

The story unfolds from 1996 to early 2007, beginning in an era in which egregious misogyny and slut shaming are rampant, and ending just after Tarana Burke launches the #MeToo movement. Of course, the protagonist, Brisma, and her best friend, Kelly, who live across the street from each other in Woodside, Queens, have no inkling of the changes to come. In 1996, the girls are 11 years old and lack political consciousness, though they know that puberty is making boys and even grown men notice them in ways they don’t particularly like. Neither girl is a wallflower, especially Kelly, who’s not above getting physical with a neighborhood ignoramus. But for the two friends, being harassed, belittled or ignored is just part of life. It’s like taking your life in your hands to cross Queens Boulevard, or rooting for the hapless Mets: Now and then, you have to cross the street, and cheering for the Yankees is never an option. So what can be done?

Handsome and suave Brian is one of Kelly and Brisma’s childhood friends. As they enter adolescence, he takes a liking to both girls, which causes them to fall out (but just as quickly fall back in; they’re sisters from different mothers). Then in 2006, Kelly and Brisma discover something about Brian that pushes their tolerance of male misbehavior to the limit. At first the women support him instinctively, until Brisma, a budding journalist, can’t any longer. This causes a rupture between her and Kelly that threatens to become permanent.

Kandic Torres’ way with her characters is superb. Kelly’s toughness hides an almost sickeningly intense fear and vulnerability, which few but Brisma see. Another neighbor, an Iraq War veteran that readers are initially wary of, becomes a voice of wisdom. Brisma’s mother, who first modeled female deference for her daughter, blesses Brisma’s ambitions to both write and leave their neighborhood behind. The Girls in Queens is a moving debut from a writer to watch.

Within the bruised and bruising world of Christine Kandic Torres’ The Girls in Queens, two girls find that being harassed, belittled or ignored is just part of life—until one of them can’t take it anymore.
Review by

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan allows the reader no time to pause or get situated within her debut novel, Big Girl; once you’re in, you’re in. It unfurls in one long stream of messy, painful, big Black girlhood, and this intense interiority gives the novel a breathless, almost unbearable momentum. 

Though Sullivan writes every character, even minor ones, with seemingly effortless depth, Big Girl stays relentlessly focused on its protagonist, Malaya. The novel never zooms too far afield, never meanders into subplots or backstory, never leaves Malaya’s emotional interior for more than a moment. In the hands of a less talented writer, this closeness could slip into tedium. Sullivan turns it into something miraculous. 

Malaya is a fat Black girl growing up in Harlem in the 1980s and ’90s. For her mother and grandmother, Malaya’s weight is her defining characteristic, a problem to be solved. She grows up swathed in her mother’s shame, learning to count calories, hide her desires, hate her body and strive toward thinness as the ultimate ideal. As she enters her teen years and her body becomes more unruly, it gets harder and harder for Malaya to locate herself in the cacophony of voices telling her how she should look, think and be. She finds some solace in the music of rap artists like Biggie Smalls and with her small group of Black friends. But it’s not until she faces her first catastrophic loss that she’s finally able to see—and love—herself on her own terms.

This is a painful book about body shaming, fatphobia, patriarchal violence, white beauty standards, familial trauma and the male gaze. It’s about how much work and courage it takes to live in the world as a Black girl, a fat girl, a woman, a human with a body that doesn’t do what bodies are “supposed” to do. No matter where Malaya is—her own kitchen; her preppy, mostly white high school; the streets of Harlem—her body is on display. She can’t escape the ways people see her and treat her, and Sullivan brilliantly captures this endless, exhausting trauma of being looked at but never seen.

Big Girl is also full of moments of tenderness, joy and even hilarity, especially in the scenes between Malaya and her father, and in her relationship with her best friend, Shaniece. As Malaya slowly comes into her own, she learns to live loudly and take up space, to embrace her size, name her hungers and claim her desires. Sullivan’s novel is expansive and exuberant, loud and fierce, a celebratory, redemptive coming-of-age story.

In her fierce debut novel, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan captures the exhausting trauma of being looked at but never seen, and the courage it takes to live loudly and take up space.

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Leif Enger’s third novel, Virgil Wander, centers on the eponymous protagonist who lives in the quaint, rustic town of Greenstone, Minnesota. By day, Virgil begrudgingly works as the town clerk, but by night, he is the proprietor of the Empress, a fledgling movie theater that specializes in projecting its exclusive and illegal film collection. During a drive one snowy evening, Virgil’s car skids off the road and crashes into Lake Superior. Luckily, he is a saved by Marcus Jetty, the owner of the local junkyard. Virgil emerges from the accident with a fleeting grasp of language and flickering memories of his former life.

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