Just a quick post this week. I’ve chosen two debut novels, both by American authors. Both have been published by smaller publishing companies and have been very well reviewed. I liked the sound of them and hope you do too!
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This is by Sarah Yaw and is about two life-sentence prisoners serving time in the same American maximum security prison. Jorge and Moses are both murderers who’ve been incarcerated for decades; Jorge is the older of the two and is Moses’ mentor, he keeps him in-check. Unfortunately aging Jorge kills himself and this sends Moses into a grief-stricken downward spiral. Jorge’s death also affects his grown daughter and the novel also focuses on the impact of prison life on the those outside of prison. It all sounds incredibly grim, but the book is challenging subject-wise and interesting. Says Kirkus “The scenes of prison life—like the harrowing late-novel moment when Moses entertains his first face-to-face visitor in 35 years—are compelling…All in all, an intriguing debut.”
Another grim one, which is “a deeply moving and intellectually profound novel built on the iconic myth of the American West” (Kirkus). This is by Braden Hepner, who’s described as a great storyteller and has been likened to Larry McMurtry. It follows the life of Jack Selvedge who works on his family’s dairy farm in Utah and who falls for Rebekah, back in town and on the run for her father. The story can be devastating, but Publisher’s Weekly has high praise for it “the novel is a meditation on the nature of hope and self-determination, a sweeping elegy to a dying town and to the bond between blood and earth”.