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Spring 2022 Books From Award Winners Elif Batuman, Chelsea Bieker, Vanessa Hua, Holly Goddard Jones

(l-r): Elif Batuman (photo: Valentyn Kuzan), Chelsea Bieker (photo: Jessica Keaveny), Vanessa Hua, Holly Goddard Jones (photo: Angela Winsor)

Elif Batuman (’07) Either/Or (Penguin, May 2022)

“The acclaimed and bestselling author (The Idiot and The Possessed) Elif Batuman continues her beloved protagonist Selin’s quest for self-knowledge in Either/Or. As she travels abroad and tests the limits of her newfound adulthood Selin is the luckiest person in her family: the only one who was born in America and got to go to Harvard. Now it’s sophomore year, 1996, and Selin knows she has to make it count. Guided by her literature syllabus and by her more worldly and confident peers, Selin reaches certain conclusions about the universal importance of parties, alcohol, and sex, and resolves to execute them in practice—no matter what the cost. Next on the list: international travel. Unfolding with the propulsive logic and intensity of youth, Either/Or is a landmark novel by one of our most brilliant writers. Hilarious, revelatory, and unforgettable, its gripping narrative will confront you with searching questions.”

Chelsea Bieker (’18) Heartbroke (Catapult, April 2022)

In her new collection of stories “Chelsea Bieker (Godshot) brilliantly illuminates a golden yet gothic world of longing and abandonment under an unrelenting California sun. United by the stark and sprawling landscapes of California’s Central Valley, the characters of Heartbroke boil with reckless desire. A woman steals a baby from a shelter in an attempt to recoup her own lost motherhood. A phone-sex operator sees divine opportunity when a lavender-eyed cowboy walks into her life. A mother and a son selling dream catchers along a highway that leads to a toxic beach manifest two young documentary filmmakers into their realm. And two teenage girls play a dangerous online game with destiny. Told in bright, snapping prose that reveals a world of loss and love underneath, Heartbroke brims over with each character’s attempt to salvage grace where they can find it.”

Vanessa Hua (’15) Forbidden City (Ballantine Books, April 2022)

Vanessa Hua’s (A River of Stars and Deceit and Other Possibilities) second novel, Forbidden City, “is an epic yet intimate portrayal of one of the world’s most powerful and least understood leaders during this extraordinarily turbulent period in modern Chinese history. A teenage girl Mei Xiang living in 1960s China becomes Mao Zedong's protégée and lover—and heroine of the Cultural Revolution—in this provocative, poignant novel. Mei’s harrowing journey toward truth and disillusionment raises questions about power, manipulation, and belief, as seen through the eyes of a passionate teenage girl."

Holly Goddard Jones (’07) Antipodes: Stories (University of Iowa Press, May 2022)

In her fourth work of fiction, Antipodes, Holly Goddard Jones "contemplates our current reality with both frankness and hard-earned hopefulness, realism and fabulism, tackling parenthood, the environment, and the absurd-but-unavoidable daily toil of worrying about mundane matters when we’ve entered 'an era of unknowability, of persistent strangeness.’ A harried and depressed mother of three young children serves on a committee that watches over the bottomless sinkhole that has appeared in her Kentucky town. During COVID lockdown, a thirty-four-year-old gamer moves back home with his parents and is revisited by his long-forgotten childhood imaginary friend. A politician running for a state congressional seat and a young mother, who share the same set of fears about the future, cross paths but don’t fully understand one another. A woman attends a party at the home of a fellow church parishioner and discovers she is on the receiving end of a sales pitch for a doomsday prepper.”



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