A novel by Victor LaValle
“The men climbed up and got the horses trotting. With so much weight on the animals, they took the journey slow.
“‘What happened?’ Adelaide asked. ‘To your horses.’
“Matthew grunted as they rode. He remained quiet for another quarter mile.
“‘Four horses gone missing this morning,’ Matthew said. ‘Two of ours and two from the folks that own this place.’
“‘That’s right,’ Matthew said. ‘By kids.’
“‘Kids?’ Adelaide asked.
“‘Four boys. Seen riding off on them before the sun came up.’”
Fleeing California after a fire destroys her childhood home, Adelaide Henry makes her way to rural Montana, where, per the Homestead Act, there’s free land to be had, even by an unmarried Black woman in 1915. She arrives with a large steamer trunk that she keeps locked over the course of the months she spends contending with the punishing landscape and getting to know her neighbors. If it’s opened, she fears, harm may come to those around her, and not for the first time. To be published by One World on March 28.
A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness
Stories by Jai Chakrabarti
“He walked to the river and dipped his toes into the shallows. All around him the birds that had migrated south for the winter flattered themselves and those that remained yearlong carried their own cacophony. A few feet away an old, rotten jackfruit too heavy for its host fell to the earth with a piece of branch. Here, the trees grew heavy with offspring but hardly shed their leaves, a country of perennial sun; even in the so-called winters, there was a significance of bloom.”
The characters in these stories, set in India and America, yearn for something that will infuse their lives with greater meaning, though their desires are often at odds with their realities. In “Lilavati’s Fire,” a woman in a passionless marriage builds an airplane using drawings made by the daughter of a 12th-century mathematician. In “Prodigal Son,” which contains the passage quoted above, a man abandons his dream of becoming a musician for the sake of his wife and children and, in the process, makes an empty promise to his guru’s family. Published by Knopf on Feb. 21.
Old God’s Time
A novel by Sebastian Barry
“Mrs. Carr spewing discord like a cobra. With her black dresses, and her legs like big stabilizer posts on a fence. And her hair tortured into a leprous perm. Who worked long and hard to drive a wedge between him and June, but never managed that, never. And only got her walking papers when she suggested to June that Tom looked like neither of the children, and was she sure he was the father.”
A retired policeman, Tom Kettle is living a newly quiet life down the coast from Dublin when his peace is disturbed — first by two detectives who ask him to revisit an unsolved case involving the murder of a priest accused of child abuse, and then by a young mother and son who’ve moved in next door. These unexpected interruptions lead him to take stock of his own painful, complicated past. To be published by Viking on March 21.
A novel by Mona Simpson
“What he’d pieced together was that his mom had been with Julie, who’d tried to make a party out of things they used to like. But his mom had asked for her kids. Julie offered a movie on TV. She had food ready. His mom told her to leave, get out of her house. Julie retreated to the living room after Diane slammed the bedroom door and shoved a dresser against it.”
The Vietnam War is ending and scrounging up enough money to pay for his freshman year at U.C. Berkeley is Walter Aziz’s biggest worry until he learns, during a trip home to Los Angeles, that his mother has fallen into a deep depression. She’s admitted to a state hospital and, while Walter and his two younger siblings are used to pitching in, the episode tests their bonds and their resolve, reminding them that their futures are far from certain. To be published by Knopf on March 21. (In this case, the quoted passage appears on page 77 of the book.)
About the artist: After moving from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to North Miami with his family, Didier William enrolled at an arts magnet high school and went on to study at the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Yale School of Art. He often works on a digital tablet to make preparatory drawings for his paintings or prints, which pull from Haitian Voodoo rituals, sci-fi and myths and present layered narratives about immigrant and queer experiences. The largest survey of his work to date, “Nou Kite Tout Sa Dèyè” (the title translates to “We’ve Left That All Behind”), is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami through April 16, and his new solo exhibition, “Things Like This Don’t Happen Here,” will be at James Fuentes Los Angeles.