MADISON, NJ – After months of reading manuscripts, entering and exiting a flurry of invented worlds and stories, the editors at Atticus Books are proud to announce their shortlist for 2016. In our List of Eleven, we welcome soccer players, organized teacher protests, mountain climbers, wild girls, convicts on the loose, a church arsonist, a teenage communist, an infertile cook and gardener, alternate worlds, and Bonnie and Clyde (for good measure)! Take a look at the possibilities of all that could be with these imaginative works (listed in alphabetical order).
The Burning by Aaron R. Even is a dark and complex tale blending a fast-paced literary crime drama with a stark portrait of a fallen world—a land of preachers and thieves, murderers and suburban dads, children and old men whose voices God no longer hears. It is a story about religious faith, pitting one man who appears malevolent against a preacher who can’t live the values he professes. Both are imperfect inhabitants in a place that no true good man can understand.
Confessions of a Communist Youth by Beatrix Büdy is the story of a nineteen-year-old college student in communist-ruled Romania. The young woman’s journey reveals life behind the Iron Curtain, exposing a less-charted corner of contemporary history—the last legs of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s seemingly impregnable Soviet-style dictatorship, ending with the Romanian Revolution of 1989. The novel was inspired by the author’s own experience of growing up in a housing project under Ceaușescu’s dictatorship.
The Ghost at the Edge of the Sea by Emily Breunig is a portrait of Will, a young expatriate trying to find his feet in a tumultuous city, in spite of his own tumultuous past. A stranger in a strange land, Will accepts a teaching position at an English language school in Shanghai soon after the death of his father. But things aren’t quite right at this well respected school and Will struggles to identify what is just off.
Hooper’s Revolution: A Novel of Soccer, America & the ‘70s by Dennie Wendt combines America’s recent and long-awaited embrace of soccer with a little ’70s color, scary Russians, and a beloved cultural hero—Pelé. The basic story: Soviet agents stalking Pelé when he was playing in New York in the ’70s—and the adventures of the beleaguered English footballer sent over here to save him.
Inside Joke by Dan Leach depicts the head-on collision between a bemused young teacher and a principal hellbent on controlling faculty and students alike. The teacher stands against a set of controversial new policies and battles the threats of enraged co-workers, entitled parents, unruly students, and the prospect of termination. The book gives hope to anyone who ever clashed with their boss or doubted their career, but had the guts to keep showing up and asking “Why.”
Love Give Us One Death: Bonnie and Clyde in the Last Days by Jeff P. Jones is the history of love and destruction you didn’t know you needed. In a time of Public Enemies, we see the last legs of a journey between the violent and manic Romeo and Juliet-like pair. The last public outlaws are riding away into their last sunrise, and this book serves as its journal.
Men I Don’t Talk To and Other Stories by Gale Walden is a treasure for the eyes and for the soul. Inside are ten stories that hunt for the center of human conflict, of loneliness and despair, of the constant journey to figure out one’s self. Through patient and deep prose, the author guides the reader on a different path in each story to a larger understanding of the world at hand. These are fantasies of the mind, romances of reality, and fiction for the ages.
Mount Fugue by J.W. Daniels is the recording of a disaster. On their record breaking ascent, a team of climbers dares to ascend the treacherous Mount Fugue into altitudes where oxygen is merely a visitor, only to be assailed by an historic storm that threatens to unravel everything. The reader explores the personal struggles, interpersonal conflicts and physical hardships surrounding the expedition leader who becomes the center point of the media controversy.
Partisans by Joe Oestreich is a collection of essays about boundaries: personal and cultural, geographic and linguistic. The book takes on the question of where and why we draw the lines we draw. Whether it’s a character being mistaken for a convict on the loose, or one who understands the manners needed for dealing with racist neighbors in his own living room, the reader comes to realize the importance of these differences and how we must manage them.
Processed Meats by Nicole Walker is a collection of essays about processing disaster, and how we repackage disaster and turn it into something edible, internalize it. It’s about how by processing bad things that happen to us, we regain some kind of control, at least in the way we control the narrative. It’s about a hunger for actual food and a hunger for things more abstract than food: love, family, home, safety and the fact that sometimes food can be a substantial substitute.
Wild Girls by Erica Abeel is what happens when someone writes about the unheard. Beat poet Gregory Corso once said “in the ‘50s if you were male you could be a rebel, but if you were female your families had you locked up. There were cases, I knew them, someday someone will write about them.” And someone finally has. From a “Wild Girl” herself, this novel travels between different worlds: Paris in the ’50s, New York in the ’60s, Long Island in the ’90s. It takes the reader on a road trip through the Beat Generation and beyond.
Photo: 11 by Brian Ng