Happy New Year, friends! Last week, I spoke to Hillel Italie, book reporter for the Associated Press, about the theme of immigration in current fiction. Was my novel a response of some sort to the rhetoric and/or the policies of the current administration? The short answer is no. I started working on The Other Americans in 2014, long before the president announced his run, and have written about migration in all of my novels, including this most recent one. The only difference is that The Other Americans is set in California, and features characters whose lives have been marked in very different ways by their decision to uproot themselves. The Associated Press piece also mentions new novels by Angie Kim, Samira Ahmed, Devi Laskar, and Valeria Luiselli, and was picked up by several newspapers, among them the Washington Post and the New York times, so please take a look.
In other book news, I’m thrilled to report that The Other Americans has been included in most-anticipated lists by the Boston Globe, BBC Culture, Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, Bustle, Nylon, Buzzfeed, Lit Hub, The Millions, Electric Literature, Huffington Post, and the Guardian.
My new novel, The Other Americans, comes out on March 26, 2019. It’s a story about home, what makes us leave or draws us back, and I can’t wait to talk to you about it. Come say hi at one of my readings!
Exciting news! My new novel, The Other Americans, will be published next spring by Pantheon in the US and Bloomsbury in the UK. The book is about the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant in California, which sets off a chain of events that reveals unexpected ties between people in a small town in the Mojave.
Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of this event bring together an eclectic cast of characters: his daughter Nora, a jazz composer who must return to the small town she thought she’d left behind for good; his widow Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efrain, a witness whose personal circumstances prevent him from coming forward; Jeremy, a former classmate of Nora’s and a veteran of the Iraq war; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor who is trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself. Narrated in turn by each of these characters, The Other Americans probes the invisible connections that tie Americans together even as they remain deeply divided. As the mystery of what happened to Driss Guerraoui unfolds, a family’s secrets are revealed, a town’s hypocrisies are faced, and love, in its messy and unpredictable forms, is born.
The novel has received early praise from the Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee (!!!) and from my brilliant friend Viet Thanh Nguyen. As you know, pre-orders are hugely important in the few months leading up to publication. I would so appreciate it if you ordered the book from your indie bookstore or online retailer. Or you can ask your local library to order it for you.
I will be going on tour next spring to promote The Other Americans, and will post details on the events page as soon as they’re confirmed. Until then, be well!
Summer is here at last! I’m spending my days reading (and also watching the World Cup.) I’ve always loved the long hours of uninterrupted reading in the summer, though this year it’s busier than usual, as I’m chairing the fiction panel judging the National Book Awards. But I do have a few pieces that have come out here and there since my last update.
For The Nation, I wrote about the distorted language used in discussions about immigration, asylum-seeking children being separated from their parents, the generational effect of ICE raids on Hispanic communities, and the social shaming of racists in public spaces. In May, I spoke to NPR’s Weekend Edition about patriotism, contributed to a feature about the late Philip Roth’s best book, and talked to my friend (and former publicist) Michael Taeckens about the art of book criticism for Poets & Writers. More recently, I wrote about tribalism in American politics for the New York Times Magazine.
Photo: With Ngugi wa Thiong’o at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April.