Published March 18, 2020

It’s impossible to sum up the fiction we had lined up this year’s Festival, as it ranged from fantasy and romance to historical and literary. You can explore the full range of fiction programming we had planned by clicking here, but we also hope you’ll keep reading to explore a suggested reading list focused on the 2020 Festival’s literary fiction…

  • A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes
    A Tall History of Sugar is a gift for grown-up fans of fairy tales and those who love fiction that metes out hard and surprising truths. Forbes’s writing combines the gale-force imagination of Margaret Atwood with the lyrical pointillism of Toni Morrison.”—New York Times Book Review

  • Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth
    Barn 8 is a novel like no other: An urgent moral fantasia, a post-human parable, a tender portrait of animal dignity and genius.”―Dana Spiotta

  • Bilbao—New York—Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe
    “Uribe has succeeded in realizing what is surely an ambition for many writers: a book that combines family, romances, and literature, anchored deeply in a spoken culture but also in bookishness—and all without a single note of self-congratulation.”—Times Literary Supplement

  • Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump
    “[An] astute and touching debut… Bump balances his heavy subject matter with a healthy dose of humor, but the highlight is Claude, a complex, fully developed protagonist who anchors everything. Readers will be moved.”—Publishers Weekly

  • Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh
    “[Gun Island] is an intellectual romp that traces Bengali folklore, modern human trafficking, and the devastating effects of climate change across generations and countries… Ghosh writes with deep intelligence and illuminating clarity about complex issues. This ambitious novel memorably draws connections among history, politics, and mythology.”—Publishers Weekly

  • Last of Her Name by Mimi Lok 
    “Lok has written the kind of understated book you catch yourself thinking about weeks after you finish it. Absorbing and deeply human, these characters—who either live in China or are of the Chinese diaspora—feel more like people you might’ve known than like fictitious renderings of Lok’s imagination. A pleasure to read and mull over for days.”—Siobhan Jones, The New York Times

  • Like Wings, Your Hands by Elizabeth Earley
    “Both a philosophical novel and a coming-of-age story, Like Wings, Your Hands explores a mother-son relationship in the context of disability and interdependence, while also raising questions about the nature of time and space and the limitless capacities of the human mind.”—Red Hen Press

  • Pigs by Johanna Stoberock
    “In luminous prose, Stoberock has crafted a parable for our time, one in which the environment, community, and human empathy are central to understanding our world. It’s dark and creepy, but beyond the mud-caked veneer, the book shines like a verdant island of its own.”—Sarah Neilson, Literary Hub

  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
    “Profoundly moving… With its abiding interest in the miracle of everyday love, Red at the Bone is a proclamation.”—The New York Times Book Review

  • Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
    “In the eleven stories of Sabrina & Corina, Fajardo-Anstine writes a love letter to the Chicanas of her homeland—women as unbreakable as the mountains that run through Colorado and as resilient as the arid deserts that surround it. . . . In her fierce, bold stories, these women—and she—are seen, and heard, and made known; the collection is both a product of pain and a celebration of survival. . . . Like the woman on Sabrina & Corina’s cover, the hearts of these characters are exposed but intact. Fajardo-Anstine’s heart is there on the page, too, beating with the blood of her ancestors.”Bustle

  • Stay and Fight by Madeline ffitch
    “A contemporary feminist spin on the traditional pioneer novel… With Stay and Fight, ffitch aims to update the frontier narrative from a queer feminist perspective, spinning a tale of exodus from a cruel new America where pipelines and pollution pox the countryside… Stay and Fight succeeds in mapping the obscure psychological and emotional territory that defines a life caught between commitment and ambivalence, between rebellion and resignation.”―Wes Enzinna, The New York Times

  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins 
    “A highly accomplished debut… Large, lavish and gutsy, a skilled and intoxicating mash-up of slave narrative, gothic romance, whodunit and legal thriller. Collins―who lives in London and is of Jamaican descent―pays careful attention to historical detail while at the same time ensuring her reader stays immersed in her emotional drama and invested in her full-bodied characters.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
    “Wise and addictive… The Gifted School is the juiciest novel I’ve read in ages… a suspenseful, laugh-out-loud page-turner and an incisive inspection of privilege, race and class.”—J. Courtney Sullivan, The New York Times

  • The Gulf by Belle Boggs
    “[The Gulf] beautifully balances absurdity and emotional depth, complete with a bombastic state representative, an epiphanic hurricane, and Marianne’s journey, if not to faith, then to salvation.”―Booklist, starred review

  • The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata 
    “Zapata’s debut novel is a wonderful merging of adventure with thoughtful but urgent meditations on time, history, and surviving tragedy. The characters are richly drawn, and the prose is striking… A luminous novel about the deep value of telling stories.”—Kirkus Reviews

  • The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels
    “Carter Sickels’ The Prettiest Star is the story of a young man who must drag his body from the mouth of death back to the ‘home’ that nearly killed him. The story of a queer desiring body moving through the crucibles of life toward song, toward rewriting family and whatever we mean by home, toward a kind of hope that comes from the dirt up and not the sky down. A heart triumph.”—Lidia Yuknavitch, author

  • The Shaman of Turtle Valley by Clifford Garstang
    “By using a series of short but fluid sections, moving about the world with ease, Garstang has given us a novel with the feel of something universal and, indeed, epic. Once you start it you won’t be able to put it down.”—Richard Wiley, winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award for Best American Fiction

  • The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott
    “[The World Doesn’t Require You is a] rich, genre-splicing mix of alternate history, magical realism and satire that interrogates issues of race, sexism and where both meet here in the real world.”—Chris Barton, Los Angeles Times

  • Travelers by Helon Habila
    “Habila evokes the visceral, heartbreaking anguish of the outsider’s dilemma… Guaranteed to promote empathy and understanding for refugees worldwide.”—Library Journal, starred review

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