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Interviews with Writers about their New Books
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Interviews with Writers about their New Books
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    Danish Sheikh, "Love and Reparation: A Theatrical Response to the Section 377 Litigation in India" (Seagull Books, 2021)

    Danish Sheikh, "Love and Reparation: A Theatrical Response to the Section 377 Litigation in India" (Seagull Books, 2021)

    Two plays about the legal battle to decriminalize homosexuality in India.
    On September 6, 2018, a decades-long battle to decriminalize queer intimacy in India came to an end. The Supreme Court of India ruled that Section 377, the colonial anti-sodomy law, violated the country’s constitution. “LGBT persons,” the Court said, “deserve to live a life unshackled from the shadow of being ‘unapprehended felons.’” But how definitive was this end? How far does the law’s shadow fall? How clear is the line between the past and the future? What does it mean to live with full sexual citizenship?
    In Love and Reparation: A Theatrical Response to the Section 377 Litigation in India (Seagull Books, 2021), Danish Sheikh navigates these questions with a deft interweaving of the legal, the personal, and the poetic. The two plays in this volume leap across court transcripts, affidavits (real and imagined), archival research, and personal memoir. Through his re-staging, Sheikh crafts a genre-bending exploration of a litigation battle, and a celebration of defiant love that burns bright in the shadow of the law.
    Saronik Bosu (@SaronikB on Twitter) is a doctoral candidate in English at New York University. He is writing his dissertation on South Asian economic writing. He is coordinator of the Medical Humanities Working Group at NYU, and of the Postcolonial Anthropocene Research Network. He also co-hosts the podcast High Theory.
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    • 49 Min.
    Franz Nicolay, "Someone Should Pay for Your Pain" (Gibson House Press, 2021)

    Franz Nicolay, "Someone Should Pay for Your Pain" (Gibson House Press, 2021)

    Franz Nicolay's Someone Should Pay for Your Pain (Gibson House Press, 2021) is a moving, funny, and sometimes brutal novel about the life of a touring musician. Rudy Pauver is a punk-turned-singer-songwriter now roughly ten years past his peak. He draws a small but steady crowd in bars and venues far from the beaten track, all while enduring the thundering success of his one-time protege Ryan Orland. Nicolay brings his decades of experience as a musician to this novel, which teems with perfect tiny details of the rigors of touring. This is a coming of middle age story for anyone who's ever wondered what goes on in the van during the long stretches between the glamorous heights of a musician's life.
    Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts.
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    • 54 Min.
    Garrett Hutson, "No Accidental Death" (Warfleigh Publishing, 2021)

    Garrett Hutson, "No Accidental Death" (Warfleigh Publishing, 2021)

    Despite the deluge of novels about World War II that has characterized the last few years, the period leading up to the war on the Pacific Front has received far less attention. One welcome exception is the Death in Shanghai series penned by Garrett Hutson, the latest book of which is No Accidental Death (Warfleigh Publishing, 2021).
    The series revolves around Douglas Bainbridge, a naval intelligence officer assigned to a two-year immersion program in Chinese language and culture. Doug has defied the expectations of his affluent but rigid parents by joining the US Navy instead of taking over the family business, and although he has already developed fluency in Mandarin, he is not emotionally prepared for the rich and varied life that awaits him in Shanghai’s International Settlement when he arrives in May 1935. It doesn’t help that he has barely unpacked his suitcases before a childhood friend, met by chance in a bar, winds up dead in the streets—with the local police all too willing to assign responsibility for the murder to Doug. Doug sets out to clear his name in that first novel, The Jade Dragon, in the process establishing a chain of tangled alliances and favors that help him through the sequel, Assassin’s Hood.
    By the time No Accidental Death opens in July 1937, Doug has completed his immersion program and moved on to his dream job as intelligence officer on a naval vessel in the Yangtze fleet. His new position takes him away from Shanghai more than he likes, but it remains his home port. He’s eager to disembark and reunite with his beloved Lucy Kinzler and his cohort of friends. But soon a crewman from Doug’s ship is killed under mysterious circumstances and the Fleet Admiral charges Doug with solving the crime. Once again, Doug must place duty above pleasure—this time in the midst of an ongoing battle between the Japanese Navy and the Chinese National Army for the control of both Shanghai and Beijing.
    These are fast-moving, well-written murder mysteries with a refreshing take on the complexities of Chinese culture in the period leading up to the Japanese invasion of 1937. The characters have enough disagreements and flaws to keep them interesting, and the theme of various characters’ homosexuality and Doug’s growing acceptance of them is well handled. They even add something to that massive literature on World War II!
    Garrett Hutson writes upmarket historical mysteries and spy fiction, driven by flawed characters who are moving and unforgettable. He lives in Indianapolis with his husband, four adorable dogs, two odd-ball cats, and too many fish to count. No Accidental Death (Death in Shanghai 3) is his most recent novel.
    C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her latest book, Song of the Sisters, appeared in January 2021.
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    • 37 Min.
    Karen Hugg, "Harvesting the Sky" (Woodhall Press, 2021)

    Karen Hugg, "Harvesting the Sky" (Woodhall Press, 2021)

    Botonist Andre Damazy undertakes a perilous exploration into the mountains of Kazakhstan to retrieve a sapling from a rare apple tree in the mountains of Kazakhstan. At great cost, he manages to retrieve a sapling, and brings it to his hidden greenhouse in Paris. The fruit of the tree has mysterious medicinal properties, and Andre’s mission is both scientific and personal, because his mother has suffered a serious stroke. He receives sufficient funding to create the correct conditions to care for the trees, but he’s under pressure, both from his sponsors, and from a mysterious organization that fears the apple is an omen of evil. Second in Karen Hugg’s literary thriller series focused on the world of plants, Harvesting the Sky (Woodhall Press, 2021) is a parable about what we take from nature.
    Karen Hugg is also the author of The Forgetting Flower and Song of the Tree Hollow. Born into a Polish family and raised in Chicago, she later moved to Seattle and worked as an editor in tech, which gave her the opportunity to live in Paris for a short time. Afterward, she became a certified ornamental horticulturalist and master pruner. Karen earned an MFA from Goddard College and her work has appeared in The Big Thrill, Crime Reads, Thrive Global, and other publications. She lives with her husband and three kids in Seattle, where she’s finishing up her first nonfiction book, Leaf Your Troubles Behind: How to Destress and Grow Happiness Through Plants. When she’s not writing or gardening, Karen is learning guitar by playing her favorite songs from the Scottish band, Travis.
    I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published.
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    • 30 Min.
    Gill Paul, "The Collector's Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb" (William Morrow, 2021)

    Gill Paul, "The Collector's Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb" (William Morrow, 2021)

    The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings almost a century ago revolutionized the study of ancient Egypt and its pharaohs. The splendors that surrounded the burial of this relatively minor ruler, interred in a hastily arranged tomb, sparked a furor of speculation, scholarship, and outright chicanery and draw crowds even today. For a long time, though, no one knew that the first modern person to enter the tomb was not Howard Carter, the famed archaeologist who located it, but Lady Evelyn (Eve) Herbert, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of Lord Carnarvon, who funded Carter’s expedition.
    In The Collector’s Daughter (William Morrow, 2021), Gill Paul approaches the story of Carter’s discovery from the perspective of its long-term effects on those involved in the find. We meet Eve first in 1972, fifty years after these life-changing events, when she has just awoken in a hospital after suffering the latest in a series of strokes that sap her physical and mental strength. She barely recognizes the man sitting next to her, although she soon concludes (correctly) that he is her husband, Brograve.
    As Eve fights her way back to health, Brograve attempts to jog her memory with photographs and tales, each of which sets off a trip into the past where we see what actually occurred and contrast it with Eve’s foggy recollections. Meanwhile, Brograve is doing his best to shield his wife from the demands of an Egyptian archaeologist determined to track down missing artifacts from the tomb—on behalf of her government, her university, or herself? We’re not quite sure of the archaeologist’s motives, only that she has secrets of her own.
    The tale of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the accidents that followed its discovery, and how Eve came to be the first person to enter its suffocating atmosphere three thousand years after the ancient Egyptian priests sealed the sarcophagus is beautifully told. But what really sets The Collector’s Daughter apart is its haunting exploration of memory loss and its impact on Eve and Brograve’s long and loving marriage. This is definitely a book that you don’t want to miss.
    Gill Paul writes historical fiction, mostly set in the twentieth century, and enjoys reevaluating real historical characters and trying to get inside their heads. Her novels have reached the top of the USA Today and Globe and Mail (Canada) bestseller lists and been translated into twenty languages.
    C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her latest book, Song of the Sisters, appeared in January 2021.
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    • 43 Min.
    S. Qiouyi Lu, "In the Watchful City" (Tordotcom, 2021)

    S. Qiouyi Lu, "In the Watchful City" (Tordotcom, 2021)

    It’s no coincidence that one of the main characters in S. Qiouyi Lu’s In the Watchful City carries with ser a qíjìtáng, or cabinet of curiosities. Lu’s novella is, itself, a cabinet of unusual mementos, with many smaller objects carefully folded into the larger structure.
    On one level the plot is simple. The qíjìtáng is full of stories, and its owner, Vessel, who hovers between life and death, needs to add one more story to ser collection in order to have a second chance at life. (Vessel’s pronouns are se, ser and sers). So se asks Anima, one of eight people who provide surveillance for the city-state of Ora, for aer story. (Anima’s pronouns are ay, aer and aers).
    But Anima’s life isn’t so simple. Ay serves as a node in the city’s Hub, which aer monitors by entering the consciousness of animals (including a gecko, raven, and wild dog during the course of the story). In this way, Ay can travel anywhere and yet aer body is fastened by a stem to a tank of amniotic-like fluid.
    Lu likens Anima’s experience of being both fixed and all-knowing to our relationship with the internet. “We're sitting in front of a computer, and, physically, our body is stationed in front of this machine. But through this network, we're able to explore so much,” Lu says. “We’re able to go to faraway lands, see through the eyes of someone else.”
    The topics ay covers in aer New Books interview include aer inspirations for the novella (such as China’s facial recognition technology), aer interest in linguistics, including neopronouns, and aer fascination with experimental narratives.
    Lu is also a poet, editor, and translator and runs microverses, which publishes speculative flash fiction, poetry, and other short forms of storytelling.
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 34 Min.

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