The Best Novels About Life in a Haunted House by Ellen Prentiss Campbell
Shepherd, January 2023
The books I picked & why.
Inciting Joy: Essays by Ross Gay
Washington Independent, December 9, 2022
An exuberant if overstated ode to…well, you know.
The Last Karankawas: A Novel by Kimberly Garza
Washington Independent, September 15, 2022
A diverse Galveston community grapples with turmoil on the ground and looming in the clouds.
Mother of Strangers: A Novel by Suad Amiry
Washington Independent, August 9, 2022
An earnest, deeply flawed story of Palestinian suffering.
The Fell: A Novel by Sarah Moss
Washington Independent, March 15, 2022
This story’s quiet start belies its propulsive finish.
The Tenderest of Strings by Steven Schwartz
Cleaver, Winter 2022
A story of a marriage and a family in trouble, an exploration of how family ties constrain and sustain, stretch and snap.
Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine: A Novel by Klara Hveberg; translated by Alison McCullough
Washington Independent, November 25, 2021
A challenging, complex story of mathematics and misery.
A Single Rose by Muriel Barbery
New York Journal of Books, September 14, 2021
This novel offers the pleasures of a poetic travelogue and an homage to a place and culture.
The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken
Fiction Writers Review, April 12, 2021
The rubble of what happens is the real souvenir in these stories: memento mori, reminder not just of time gone by, but of death, always there, always approaching.
Wild Swims by Dorothy Nors
Fiction Writers Review, February 1, 2021
Reading these stories at times feels almost like complicit voyeurism—witnessing pain through a one-way mirror in the laboratory of Nors’s world.
Beneficence By Meredith Hall
New York Journal of Books, October 2020
Through the experience of a fictional family, Doris and Tup Senter and their children, the author tells a powerful story of love and loss and endurance.
Jack: A Novel By Marilynne Robinson
Washington Independent, September 30, 2020
Whether or not you’ve read Gilead, the author’s latest work is a balm for the soul.
Fracture by Andrés Neuman
Fiction Writers Review, June 15, 2020
The novel is narrated as an episodic composite, linked by the author’s narrative conceit: a persistent Argentinian journalist has been seeking to interview elusive, reclusive Watanabe.
Audubon’s Sparrow: A Biography-in-Poems by Juditha Dowd
New York Journal of Books, May 2020
A unique book, a biography in poems of John Adams Audubon’s wife Lucy Bakewell.
The Night Watchman: A Novel by Louise Erdrich
Washington Independent, March 2020
This affecting story probes the historical record for a narrative that is at once tender and hopeful.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Fiction Writers Review, October 2019
Olive Kittredge is a continually surprising person: blunt and gruff, but increasingly capable of both insight and empathy.
The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett
Washington Independent, September 2019
Have you ever stalked a house?
The Snakes by Sadie Jones
Washington Independent, August 2019
A family-drama turned thriller that coils readers in a helix of terror.
Busara Road by David Hallock Sanders
Fiction Writers Review, April 2019
Captures the way a child feels like a token moved from square to square on the adult’s game board.
Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney
Washington Independent, April 2019
A love affair beset by obstacles of class, money, and personality.
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
The New York Journal of Books, February 2019
The novel may be cool as it opens but the ending is white hot.
The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
Fiction Writers Review, February 2019
Women in action…taking on dangerous assignments.
The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash
Fiction Writers Review, December 2018
A coming-of-age journey, a magical mystery tour, vintage 1980.
Dogs of Detroit by Brad Felver
The Washington Independent Review of Books, September 2018
The stories are dry ice: cold enough to burn.
Other People’s Love Affairs by D. Wystan Owen
The New York Journal of Books, August 2018
The prevailing tone may be quiet melancholy but it is suffused with joy.
Everything Is Borrowed by Nathaniel Popkin
Fiction Writers Review, June 2018
Meditation on time and change.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Washington Independent Review of Books, April 2018
Prepare for enchantment.
The Only Story by Julian Barnes
Fiction Writers Review, April 2018
Suffering is, after all, the Latin root for passion.
Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander
Fiction Writers Review, December 2017
This book is itself in disguise, allegory camouflaged as page-turner, parable gone under-cover as spy story.
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
Washington Independent Review of Books, November 2017
Read this one as children do: with eyes and heart open, giving in, ready to be swept away.
Larkinland by Jonathan Tulloch
The Fiction Writers Review, October 2017
We would all be singing different songs, telling different stories, if we belonged somewhere else.
There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon
The Fiction Writers Review, September 2017
…fingerprints endure, and Gordon’s mark these new pages.
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
The Washington Independent Review of Books, August 2017
Clemmons knows…what it is to grieve and claw your way through.
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
The Fiction Writers Review, April 2017
Lucy’s the disturbing stone thrown into a still dark pond.
Mexico: Stories by Josh Barkan
The Washington Independent Review of Books, January 2017
Dark tales of people in crisis.
HEAT & LIGHT: A NOVEL by Jennifer Haigh
Fiction Writers Review, September 2016
Haigh presents no over-simplified white hats and black hats in her story.
THE MUSE: A NOVEL BY JESSIE BURTON
Washington Independent Review of Books, August 2016
A dual narrative on the pains of war and the healing capacity of art.
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Fiction Writers Review, June 2016
No one ever has enough money.
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Fiction Writers Review, May 2016
Heartbreak mitigation in Louise Erdrich’s latest novel.
Flora by Gail Godwin
Washington Independent Review of Books, June 2013
Godwin’s story lingers in the mind’s eye and ear, gently haunting the reader even after the book is closed.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Fiction Writers Review, April 2016
For better or worse, as Lucy Barton discovers, you can run from your mother but you can’t hide.
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Fiction Writers Review, January 2015
All of Robinson’s novels are united by her compassionate attention to the possibility for amazing, transcendent grace breaking through and illuminating flawed human existence and our daily experience.