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A blog about books and other things speculative

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2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2020 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on May 31, 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite May 2020 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts
Jacket artwork by Travis Bedel (Bedelgeuse)
Jacket design by Zoe Norvell





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts
Jacket design by Elsie Lyons





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts
Jacket design by Jenny Carrow





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts
Cover art by Greg Ruth
Cover design by Adam Auerbach





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts
Cover by Eric Nyquist





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2020 Debuts

Interview with Alina Boyden, author of Stealing Thunder


Please welcome Alina Boyden to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Stealing Thunder is published on May 12, 2020 by Ace.

Please join all of us at The Qwillery in wishing Alina a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Alina Boyden, author of Stealing Thunder




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Alina:  Wow, we're really going back to the beginning, huh? The first piece of fiction I actually remember sitting down at a computer and writing was a story in French when I was in third or fourth grade, having just spent the summer studying it. It has not survived the intervening centuries, and so I can't go back and look at how bad my French was at that age. The first piece I wrote of real fiction was when I was 18, I think, back in like maybe 2002, and it was a 300,000 word post-apocalyptic epic about the trials and tribulations of a small medieval city-state in the Santa Ynez Valley of California. I still have it, but can't wholeheartedly recommend it. Some authors can make 300,000 words seem to fly by, but 18-year-old me was not one of those people.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Alina:  I am 1000% pantser. I never outline. I do a lot of research and world-building ahead of time, and I generally know in my head more or less what the starting drama is, and more or less what the resolution is, and then I just let the characters work it out. Sometimes I honestly don't even know what the ending is when I start. In fact, when I started writing Stealing Thunder I didn't have the slightest clue what the plot was going to be. I just knew who Razia was and where she was, and what her situation was, and she took care of the rest.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alina:  Editing. By far editing. I tend to be one of those people who writes one draft of a thing, and that's the finished product, more or less. That was the case with Stealing Thunder. However, while that's a very entertaining way to live your life, I don't think it's consistent enough for the fiction market, given how competitive it is. So, the sequel, for example, went through about a dozen "drafts." Though none of those drafts was a full draft. I tend to write myself into corners and then erase the path back to where it branched, and start over. So for the sequel to Stealing Thunder, which is around 124,000 words, I wrote something like 400 or 450,000 words. So, maybe instead of a plotter or a pantser I'm a pruner?



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Alina:  History is probably my biggest influence. I'm a history nut, and will happily spend hours and hours researching the history of just the most random things. I don't have a particular place or time that I'm more in love with than any other. They're all equally brilliant and fascinating. I think what I love about it is that you get to see people who are just like us living in a world vastly different from our own, and I think that dovetails brilliantly with fantasy and science fiction.



TQWhat is a cultural anthropologist and how does being one affect your writing?

Alina:  I'm a trained cultural anthropologist, but I don't really identify as one. I'm also a trained archaeologist, and a trained historian from an academic standpoint. We all have many facets to our identities, but if I'm anything professionally at this point, it's a writer. That being said, I think that cultural anthropology is a discipline that has at its founding core a very hopeful message for humanity, and one that is particularly valuable for fiction, as I've often heard fiction described as an exercise in empathy. Cultural anthropology was founded on the idea of empathy, and the idea that if you take the time to listen to other people and to live with other people, you can come to understand something about them. It was predicated, at least in the Boasian tradition, on the idea that no culture is superior to any other, that no people is hierarchically above any other, and that all cultural beliefs and practices are of equal value. Like many ideals, cultural anthropology's have rarely been achieved in actual practice, but I think it's a good message to take home nonetheless.



TQDescribe Stealing Thunder using only 5 words.

Alina:  Trans "Pretty Woman" with dragons.



TQTell us something about Stealing Thunder that is not found in the book description.

Alina:  Page 1 has three trans women having a conversation not about cis people. I don't know if there's some equivalent of the Bechdel test for trans women, but if it exists, Stealing Thunder might be the only fantasy novel in the history of the world that passes it. And it does so on page 1.



TQWhat inspired you to write Stealing Thunder? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Alina:  I was inspired to write Stealing Thunder largely as a result of my experiences with South Asian trans women and their communities. They are some of the oldest communities in the world of trans people who are out and acknowledged by society. That blew my mind when I first encountered it, and it really changed my approach to writing trans girls in fiction in general, but fantasy in particular, because I was so tired of seeing LGBT representation where we're all unicorns who live alone and never encounter anyone like us. (And, like medieval unicorns we also usually die just before consummating our love).

Fantasy is my favorite genre because I get to write historical fiction, but I don't have to be slavish to the history, and if I want to have something different happen, or to have a weird pterano-bird-dragon that you can ride on, I can have that.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Stealing Thunder?

Alina:  Stealing Thunder didn't require much in the way of special research, because it was stuff I was already doing. At the time I wrote it, I was studying Urdu, reading the history of South Asia, having loads of conversations with South Asian trans women, and so it was something that I was very much already stewing in at the time. For the sequel, without giving anything away, I did delve very especially into certain regional histories and ethnographies, but for Stealing Thunder it sort of naturally followed what I was already doing.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Stealing Thunder.

Alina:  If you zoom in really close on the full-size digital image, the details on the columns on either side of Razia are amazing. Greg Ruth did a really wonderful job, and I am so happy that my first book has such cool cover art. Lots of authors aren't so lucky.



TQIn Stealing Thunder who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alina:  The easiest characters for me are always the jerks, I think. I don't know what that says about me, but I find them to be really fun. I don't mean villains necessarily, but antagonists. So Sikander, Razia's father, Arjun's father, they're all really easy for me. Even Karim to an extent. But the hardest were Razia's sisters, Sakshi and Lakshmi. Lakshmi because she's a kid, and I was never a normal kid, so writing a normal kid is really hard for me. And Sakshi because she's the supportive one, the kind one, but I can't make her too one note, or she's just not a character. People like drama, they like tension, and so when you write characters who are adversarial, I think people tend to see them more vividly. So a supportive cast is tough to write without making them dull.



TQDoes Stealing Thunder touch on any social issues?

Alina:  I don't think Stealing Thunder so much touches on social issues as it does just take a flamethrower (or maybe a fire-breathing zahhak) to them. I think it's easy, if you live in a liberal bubble in the US, to forget that in most of the country trans people's rights are being eroded every day - especially trans childrens'. Just in the last three weeks we've seen bills preventing trans girls from playing sports and preventing all trans people from changing their birth certificates made law in Idaho, just to cite one example. At this very moment, the Supreme Court is waiting to rule on whether or not I can be fired from my job just for being transgender. If the case goes against us, Title VII will no longer apply to trans people anywhere in the US. So, while the climate is not nearly as bad as it was when I transitioned eighteen years ago, it is far from good, and to have a book put out by the biggest publisher in the world with a trans girl heroine is really making a statement.



TQWhich question about Stealing Thunder do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Alina:  What does it mean to you to have an unapologetically positive story with a trans woman main character?

It means everything to me, and I hope it will come to mean something to those members of our community who read fantasy novels. Stealing Thunder counters so many negative messages for trans women in our country - that we're not pretty, that we're not desirable, that we're not worthy of love, that we're not heroic, that we're not noble, that we're sinful, that we're weak, that we're mentally incompetent, insane, deranged, perverse. I've been called every single one of those things in my life, and so has every other trans woman I've ever met. We've seen it in literature, on TV, in film, and acted out on the nightly news. I somewhat jokingly summarize Stealing Thunder as trans girl Pretty Woman in the Mughal Empire with dragons, but we didn't actually get Pretty Woman. We got the Crying Game, where we're portrayed by a cis man, and when our romantic interest finds out we're trans, he vomits and punches us in the face. And as horrible as that sounds, that was the most positive representation I saw of a trans woman in film in my youth. Normally we're creepy serial killers or confusing corpses for criminal investigators to figure out - if we're included at all. So, to finally get a chance to see a positive portrayal of a trans woman in my favorite literary genre is really a special experience, and I hope it's inspiring for other trans women who pick it up and read it.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Stealing Thunder.

Alina:

"How do you explain your soul to another person? How do you give them a glimpse of it?"

"As difficult as life could be here, at least my life was my own, and at least I was me."



TQWhat's next?

Alina:  Next for me is editing Stealing Thunder's sequel, which is slated to release in May 2021. I have a couple of other fun projects brewing that I can't really talk too much about yet, but mostly I'm just looking forward to seeing Stealing Thunder finally out in the world!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alina:  Thank you so much for hosting me!





Stealing Thunder
Ace, May 12, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Alina Boyden, author of Stealing Thunder
Protecting her identity means life or death in this immersive epic fantasy inspired by the Mughal Empire.  

In a different life, under a different name, Razia Khan was raised to be the Crown Prince of Nizam, the most powerful kingdom in Daryastan. Born with the soul of a woman, she ran away at a young age to escape her father’s hatred and live life true to herself.

Amongst the hijras of Bikampur, Razia finds sisterhood and discovers a new purpose in life. By day she’s one of her dera’s finest dancers, and by night its most profitable thief. But when her latest target leads her to cross paths with Arjun Agnivansha, Prince of Bikampur, it is she who has something stolen.

An immediate connection with the prince changes Razia’s life forever, and she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous political war. The stakes are greater than any heist she’s ever performed. When the battle brings her face to face with her father, Razia has the chance to reclaim everything she lost…and save her prince.





About Alina

Alina Boyden is a cultural anthropologist focused on organized communities of transgender women in Pakistan, known as khwaja siras, or more popularly as hijras, focusing on how they use their unique community organization to advance the fight for their rights at home and abroad–something which has inspired her, as a transgender woman, in her own battles for civil rights in the U.S. as she fought for transgender care in a major court case with the ACLU.

Website  ~  Twitter @AlinaBoyden

The View From Monday - May 11, 2020


It is another Monday.

There are 3 debuts this week:

Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden;

My Mother's House by Francesca Momplaisir;

and

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas.

The View From Monday - May 11, 2020The View From Monday - May 11, 2020
The View From Monday - May 11, 2020
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



From formerly feature DAC Authors:

Benjamin 2073: A Tor.com Original by Rjurik Davidson;

and

Aleph Extraction (Intergalactic Cold War 2) by Dan Moren is out in digital format; the Trade Paperback was published on April 3, 2020.

The View From Monday - May 11, 2020The View From Monday - May 11, 2020
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



The View From Monday - May 11, 2020



Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

May 12, 2020
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Stealing Thunder (D) Alina Boyden F
Endland Tim Etchells LF/Dys/SS/BlHu
Unreconciled W. Michael Gear SF/HSF/SO - Donovan  4
Queen of the Unwanted Jenna Glass F - The Women's War 2
Armageddon House Michael Griffin Dys/H
The Porpoise (h2tp) Mark Haddon LF/Hist/MR -  Contemporaries
The Ten Thousand Doors of January (h2tp) Alix E. Harrow MR/CoA/HistF/RF
Vaults Of Obsidian Darius Hinks SF/SE - Warhammer 40,000
T.I.M.E Stories: The Heiden File (e) Christophe Lambert SF/TT/MTI
Even the Dogs (ri) Jon McGregor MR/GH/STR/LF
My Mother's House (D) Francesca Momplaisir MR/CH/LF
Shakespeare For Squirrels Christopher Moore F/HU
Aleph Extraction (e) Dan Moren SF/SO/HSF - Intergalactic Cold War 2
The Anthill Julianne Pachico LF/H
Firewalkers Adrian Tchaikovsky SF
Catherine House (D) Elisabeth Thomas LF
Sky of Water Stacey L. Tucker F/RF/CW/MR/VisM - Equal Night Trilogy 3
Gastronogeek: 42 Recipes from Your Favorite Imaginary Worlds Thibaud Villanova
Maxime Léonard
Cooking/MTI/SF/F/H
Empire of Grass (h2tp) Tad Williams F/DF - Last King of Osten Ard  2



May 13, 2020
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Benjamin 2073: A Tor.com Original (e) Rjurik Davidson SF
Strange Life of Ivan Osokin (ri) P. D. Ouspensky VisM/Occ/Sup/Phil



May 14, 2020
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
A Time of Changes (ri) Robert Silverberg SF - Masterworks



May 15, 2020
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Gender and Environment in Science Fiction (h2tp) Christy Tidwell (Ed)
Bridgette Barclay (Ed)
PopCul/SF/HC - Ecocritical Theory and Practice
The Cold Last Swim Junior Burke Noir/AH
Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television Brian E. Crim Holocaust/LC/PerfArts/SF/F/H/Sup



D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Ke - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator



AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternate History
AP - Apocalyptic
BlHu - Black Humor
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CH - Cultural Heritage
CM - Crime and Mystery
CoA - Coming of Age
CW - Contemporary Women
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
Esp - Espionage
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PerfArts - Performing Arts
Phil - Philosophy
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PopCul - Popular Culture
Psy - Psychological
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
RF - Romantic Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SS - Short Stories
STR - Small Town and Rural
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
TTR - Time Travel Romance
VisM - Visionary and Metaphysical
WS - Women Sleuths

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts


There are 8 debut novels for May 2020.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The May debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite May cover for the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on May 15, 2020.



Alina Boyden

Stealing Thunder
Ace, May 12, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
Protecting her identity means life or death in this immersive epic fantasy inspired by the Mughal Empire.  

In a different life, under a different name, Razia Khan was raised to be the Crown Prince of Nizam, the most powerful kingdom in Daryastan. Born with the soul of a woman, she ran away at a young age to escape her father’s hatred and live life true to herself.

Amongst the hijras of Bikampur, Razia finds sisterhood and discovers a new purpose in life. By day she’s one of her dera’s finest dancers, and by night its most profitable thief. But when her latest target leads her to cross paths with Arjun Agnivansha, Prince of Bikampur, it is she who has something stolen.

An immediate connection with the prince changes Razia’s life forever, and she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous political war. The stakes are greater than any heist she’s ever performed. When the battle brings her face to face with her father, Razia has the chance to reclaim everything she lost…and save her prince.





Nancy Wayson Dinan

Things You Would Know If You Grew Up Around Here
Bloomsbury Publishing, May 19, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
Set during the devastating Memorial Day floods in Texas, a surreal, empathetic novel for readers of Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles.

2015. 18-year-old Boyd Montgomery returns from her grandfather's wedding to find her friend Isaac missing. Drought-ravaged central Texas has been newly inundated with rain, and flash floods across the state have begun to sweep away people, cars, and entire houses as every river breaks its banks.

In the midst of the rising waters, Boyd sets out across the ravaged back country. She is determined to rescue her missing friend, and she's not alone in her quest: her neighbor, Carla, spots Boyd's boot prints leading away from the safety of home and follows in her path. Hours later, her mother returns to find Boyd missing, and she, too, joins the search.

Boyd, Carla, and Lucy Maud know the land well. They've lived in central Texas for their entire lives. But they have no way of knowing the fissure the storm has opened along the back roads, no way of knowing what has been erased-and what has resurfaced. As they each travel through the newly unfamiliar landscape, they discover the ghosts of Texas past and present.

Haunting and timely, Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here considers questions of history and empathy and brings a pre-apocalyptic landscape both foreign and familiar to shockingly vivid life.




Genevieve Hudson

Boys of Alabama
Liveright, May 19, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
O, The Oprah Magazine • "31 LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020"
Lit Hub • "Most Anticipated Books by LGBTQ Authors For the First Half of 2020"
Ms. Magazine • "Reads for the Rest of Us: Feminist Books Coming Out in 2020"


“A gripping, uncanny, and queer exploration of being a boy in America, told with detail that dazzles and disturbs.” —Michelle Tea, author of Against Memoir

In this bewitching debut novel, a sensitive teen, newly arrived in Alabama, falls in love, questions his faith, and navigates a strange power. While his German parents don’t know what to make of a South pining for the past, shy Max thrives in the thick heat. Taken in by the football team, he learns how to catch a spiraling ball, how to point a gun, and how to hide his innermost secrets.

Max already expects some of the raucous behavior of his new, American friends—like their insatiable hunger for the fried and cheesy, and their locker room talk about girls. But he doesn’t expect the comradery—or how quickly he would be welcomed into their world of basement beer drinking. In his new canvas pants and thickening muscles, Max feels like he’s “playing dress-up.” That is until he meets Pan, the school “witch,” in Physics class: “Pan in his all black. Pan with his goth choker and the gel that made his hair go straight up.” Suddenly, Max feels seen, and the pair embarks on a consuming relationship: Max tells Pan about his supernatural powers, and Pan tells Max about the snake poison initiations of the local church. The boys, however, aren’t sure whose past is darker, and what is more frightening—their true selves, or staying true in Alabama.

Writing in verdant and visceral prose that builds to a shocking conclusion, Genevieve Hudson “brilliantly reinvents the Southern Gothic, mapping queer love in a land where God, guns, and football are king” (Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks). Boys of Alabama becomes a nuanced portrait of masculinity, religion, immigration, and the adolescent pressures that require total conformity.





Ilze Hugo

The Down Days
Skybound Books, May 5, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
In the aftermath of a deadly outbreak—reminiscent of the 1962 mass hysteria that was the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic—a city at the tip of Africa is losing its mind, with residents experiencing hallucinations, paranoia, and uncontrollable laughter. Is it simply another episode of mass hysteria, or something more sinister? In a quarantined city in which the inexplicable has already occurred, rumors, superstitions, and conspiracy theories abound.

During these strange days, Faith works as a fulltime corpse collector and a freelance “truthologist,” putting together disparate pieces of information to solve problems. But after Faith agrees to help an orphaned girl find her abducted baby brother, she begins to wonder if the boy is even real. Meanwhile, Sans, a dealer trading in stolen ponytails, is so distracted by a glimpse of his dream woman that he loses a bag of money he owes his gang partners—leaving him desperately searching for both and questioning his own sanity.

Over the course of a single week, the paths of Faith, Sans, and a cast of other hustlers—including a data dealer, a drug addict, a sin eater, and a hyena man—will cross and intertwine as they move about the city, looking for lost souls, uncertain absolution, and answers that may not exist.





Lisa King

Vanishing Hour
Story Plant, May 5, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
Seventy-year-old Matthew Werner, who suffers from a debilitating case of Not Normal, doesn't know that nearly everyone on earth has died. He only knows that, out in the world, something terrible is happening – something he's not willing to discover. So he barricades himself inside and tries to stay ignorant. That is, until twelve-year-old Ruby Sterling shows up at his doorstep, all alone.

The two have little in common. Matthew is old, strange, grumbly, and concerned only with figuring out what happened to his wife, who went missing months earlier. Ruby is serious, curious, and worried about the fate of her father and whether the future even exists. Neither wants much to do with the other. Which is why, when Ruby hears a voice on the radio telling people to come to a place called the Horizon, she's determined to find it, even if Matthew isn't.

But outside, he's the least of her problems, and she's the least of his. To survive, they must count on the last thing either expected: each other.

And the Horizon? It could be anywhere.

Or nowhere at all.

Vanishing Hour is a work of apocalyptic fiction unlike any other. As much a story about the beginning of an unlikely friendship as it is about the end of the world, it resonates on both the personal and social levels. You're not likely to forget this one anytime soon.





Francesca Momplaisir

My Mother's House
Knopf, May 12, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
“A shockingly original exploration of class, race, and systemic violence . . . This house, tainted by the human evil it contains, is reminiscent of the opening line of Toni Morrison’s Beloved. And, like Morrison, Momplaisir uses the tropes of fantasy to try to assert truths that ordinary language and realistic imagery cannot communicate . . . Momplaisir’s debut introduces her as an author to watch.” –Kirkus

 For fans of Edwidge Danticat, Mehsin Hamid, Kate Atkinson, and Jesmyn Ward: a literary thriller about the complex underbelly of the immigrant American dream and the dangerous ripple effect one person’s damages can have on the lives of others–told unexpectedly by a house that has held unspeakable horrors

When Lucien flees Haiti with his wife, Marie-Ange, and their three children to New York City’s South Ozone Park, he does so hoping for reinvention, wealth, and comfort. He buys a rundown house in a community that is quickly changing from an Italian enclave of mobsters to a haven for Haitian immigrants, and begins life anew. Lucien and Marie-Ange call their home La Kay–“my mother’s house”–and it becomes a place where their fellow immigrants can find peace, a good meal, and legal help. But as a severely emotionally damaged man emigrating from a country whose evils he knows to one whose evils he doesn’t, Lucien soon falls into his worst habits and impulses, with La Kay as the backdrop for his lasciviousness. What he can’t even begin to fathom is that the house is watching, passing judgment, and deciding to put an end to all the sins it has been made to hold. But only after it has set itself aflame will frightened whispers reveal Lucien’s ultimate evil.

At once an uncompromising look at the immigrant experience and an electrifying page-turner, My Mother’s House is a singular, unforgettable achievement.





Shubhangi Swarup

Latitudes of Longing
One World, May 19, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
A sweeping, lyrical debut about the love and longing between humanity and the earth itself, by a major new literary talent from India

“Astonishing and completely original, Shubhangi Swarup’s magical novel will change the way you see people—and landscapes, forests, the oceans, snow deserts.”—Nilanjana S. Roy

A spellbinding work of literature, Latitudes of Longing follows the interconnected lives of characters searching for true intimacy. The novel sweeps across India, from an island, to a valley, a city, and a snow desert, to tell a love story of epic proportions. We follow a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who speaks to them; a geologist working to end futile wars over a glacier; octogenarian lovers; a mother struggling to free her revolutionary son; a yeti who seeks human companionship; a turtle who transforms first into a boat and then a woman; and the ghost of an evaporated ocean as restless as the continents. Binding them all together is a vision of life as vast as the universe itself.

A young writer awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in India for this novel, Shubhangi Swarup is a storyteller of extraordinary talent and insight. Richly imaginative and wryly perceptive, Latitudes of Longing offers a soaring view of humanity: our beauty and ugliness, our capacity to harm and love one another, and our mysterious and sacred relationship with nature.

Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2020 • Winner of the Tata Literature Live! Award for Debut Fiction • Longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature • Shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Indian Literature





Elisabeth Thomas

Catherine House
Custom House, May 12, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
“Elisabeth Thomas had me mesmerized from the first page. Dreamy and brimming with dread, Catherine House will swallow you whole."  — Rory Power, New York Times bestselling author of Wilder Girls

A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within a secluded, elite university and following a dangerously curious, rebellious undergraduate who uncovers a shocking secret about an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

Trust us, you belong here.

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines Murillo, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. Even the school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves within the formidable iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, it is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had. But the House’s strange protocols soon make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when tragedy strikes, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda within the secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless.
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