For Leah Hampton, F*ckface is all about location, location, location (and a lot of weird characters)

For Leah Hampton, F*ckface is all about location, location, location (and a lot of weird characters)

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Leah Hampton’s short story collection F*fuckface has the best book title of the years. Hands down. While you can’t judge a book by its cover – or title – you can judge it by its content. And holy cow, F*ckface goes there.

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Kelli Jo Ford’s crooked path to publishing Crooked Hallelujah

Kelli Jo Ford’s crooked path to publishing Crooked Hallelujah

Kelli Jo Ford didn’t intend for Crooked Hallelujah to be a novel. At first she was just writing stories about Cherokee women who came to her. After a few stories, she realized they were all interconnected and the women were in the same family. These were stories she had to write.

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John Fram’s The Bright Lands is the queer, supernatural thriller the world needs right now

John Fram’s The Bright Lands is the queer, supernatural thriller the world needs right now

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John Fram pulled from his own experiences as an outsider in rural Texas and his obsession with crime novelists like Mary Higgins Clark to create The Bright Lands. The novel is one of the most original takes on modern noir I have ever read. Now living in New York, Fram has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times and The Atlantic. He recently had an opinion in the Times entitled “How White Crime Writers Justified Police Brutality.”

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A Life of Books with Catherine Adel West, author of Saving Ruby King

A Life of Books with Catherine Adel West, author of Saving Ruby King

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West is about the beauty, grit, and violence of Chicago. When the titular Ruby’s mother is killed in her home in Chicago’s South Side, she knows her father is at fault. Yet, she must still live with him as she mourns, grapples with his violence, and comes-of-age.

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The 12 Best Debuts of 2020 (So Far)

The 12 Best Debuts of 2020 (So Far)

This year hasn’t gone the way any of us thought it’d go. One thing that we can always count on is a crop of debut and emerging writers to produce delectable books. 

So many stellar books came out in the first half of 2020 that I had trouble narrowing it down. The books featured on this list are the ones that I have recommended or have thought about the most. Of course, there are so many delectable books that were left off this list. Like I always say: art is subjective.

Here are the dozen debuts that I feel everyone should pick up at one point this year.

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Sanaë Lemoine on France, teenagers, and creating The Margot Affair

Sanaë Lemoine on France, teenagers, and creating The Margot Affair

Sanaë Lemoine has lived all over the globe. When she was creating The Margot Affair, a specific time and place kept calling to her. Thus, Margot was born as a seventeen year old living in Paris.

Margot is on the cusp of adulthood when she decides to change the course of her own life, and as a result changes the trajectory of all of her relatives’ lives. When she reveals she is the secret daughter of a politician and a famous actress, her secret world is unspooled and readers get to watch as the wall of lies built up around her comes tumbling down.

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Ashleigh Bryant Phillips gives a voice to the forgotten in Sleepovers

Ashleigh Bryant Phillips gives a voice to the forgotten in Sleepovers

To say Ashleigh Bryant Phillips is proud of being born and raised in Woodland, North Carolina is an understatement. Her social media is @woodlandraised and her debut story collection Sleepovers is largely inspired by her upbringing in the rural town tucked away in the northeast corner of the state. 

That collection won her the C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize, which comes with a prize of $10,000 and publication from Hub City Press. Sleepovers features a wide variety of voices from people often forgot about society. If you ever get the chance to speak to Phillips, you realize her voice and point of view are just as distinct as the characters she writes. 

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Zaina Arafat subverts expectations in You Exist Too Much

Zaina Arafat subverts expectations in You Exist Too Much

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Zaina Arafat is a Palestinian-American whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, Washington Post, and more of the most prestigious media outlets in America. She also holds an M.A. in international affairs from Columbia University and an M.F.A. from Iowa where she also taught writing. Additionally, she has taught at The School of the New York Times, the International Writing Program and Sackett Street Writers, as well as abroad in Jordan, Egypt and Eritrea.

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Jean Kyoung Frazier on why Pizza Girl was written at the perfect time in her life

Jean Kyoung Frazier on why Pizza Girl was written at the perfect time in her life

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Jean Kyoung Frazier‘s book about a pregnant pizza delivery girl is hilarious. Even though Frazier never intended for Pizza Girl to have a wry sense of dark comedy sprinkled onto it, her natural funniness came through page after page. Don’t get me wrong: the novel is dark. It follows a delivery girl who becomes infatuated with a married client. The result is a perfectly balances insight into the young woman that Frazier says she couldn’t have written a year before she finally started and might not be able to write now.

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