This debut novel by a Danish poet is a literary whodunit set in an unnamed city - Stockholm or maybe Brooklyn, depending on your perspective. While cleaning the apartment of his dead gangster father, Thomas salvages a toaster, in which he finds a package. This brings on a psychological unraveling—and the novel ends up exploring the rock paper scissors one-upmanship of male interactions. Aidt’s characters are intelligently and warmly drawn, her voice is fresh and and she’s particularly good on family dynamics. It’s a suspenseful well-paced novel, but you can’t take the poetry out of this poet.
All five stories in this brilliant collection are set in different periods of scientific breakthrough from Louis Aziz to Charles Darwin. The protagonist in one story becomes a minor character in the next, a structure which underscores Barrett’s point about science. She suggests here that the life work of a scientist/protagonist, however methodical and important, is destined to become a footnote in the work of the scientist who follows him/her. Barrett tells stories about the pain and intensity of hard work and the necessity of letting go. Her characters must let go of ambition, accolades, and their deep yearnings to see a divine hand in the natural order of the world. This is a moving, thought provoking and lyrical collection of stories. If you liked Ship Fever, you will love it.
It is spring 2008 and the Turner family house on Detroit’s East Side stands vacant. Francis Turner has died, and his elderly widow Viola has moved in with Cha-Cha, the first of their 13 children. Ghosts and ‘haints’ both metaphorical and real, haunt the surviving family members as they try to decide what will become of the dilapidated house in which they grew up. Angela Flournoy writes with alacrity and charm about the complex ties that bind siblings and community as well as the misunderstandings that threaten to divide them. The characterization is nuanced and the dialog jumps right off the page in this delicious debut novel.