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After Tears
Niq Mhlongo
Ohio University Press, 2011

Bafana Kuzwayo is a young man with a weight on his shoulders. After flunking his law studies at the University of Cape Town, he returns home to Soweto, where he must decide how to break the news to his family. But before he can confess, he is greeted as a hero by family and friends. His uncle calls him “Advo,” short for Advocate, and his mother wastes no time recruiting him to solve their legal problems. In a community that thrives on imagined realities, Bafana decides that it’s easiest to create a lie that allows him to put off the truth indefinitely. Soon he’s in business with Yomi, a Nigerian friend who promises to help him solve all his problems by purchasing a fake graduation document. One lie leads to another as Bafana navigates through a world that readers will find both funny and grim.


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All Coyote's Children
Bette Lynch Husted
Oregon State University Press, 2018
Jack and Annie Fallon had been living what seemed the ideal life with their son Riley, spending the school year in Portland, where Jack was a professor of Native American history, and summers at Jack’s family ranch in northeastern Oregon, on land surrounded by the Umatilla Indian Reservation. But a good way of life can disappear almost overnight, as the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla peoples already know. Now the teenage Riley is in rehab, Jack has disappeared without a trace into the remote wilderness, and Annie is recovering from her own hospitalization following a mental health crisis.

Still fragile, a bereft Annie returns to the ranch, where she is befriended by Leona, a Umatilla-Cayuse neighbor. Leona, as it turns out, has a long connection to the family that even Jack never knew about. At the time of his disappearance, Jack had been grappling with his family’s legacy—with the conflicts and consequences of white settlement of native ground. Three generations before he was born, the family ranch was taken from the Umatilla reservation through the Allotment Act. Jack’s mother died when he was six, but his father’s stern presence still cast a shadow on the land.

“Survival is hard sometimes,” Leona says, but with her help, Annie is able to bring Riley home from rehab and begin the work of healing their small family, learning, season by season, how to go on living without Jack. Leona, Riley’s friends Alex and Mattie, and old neighbors Gus and Audrey become a larger family for Annie as they share the stories that connect them—long-silenced stories from both cultures that could solve the mystery of Jack’s disappearance.

In prose that is lyrical and clear-eyed, All Coyote’s Children weaves an unforgettable tale of cultures and families caught in the inescapable web of who they are and what they have inherited.

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Blue Hours
A Novel
Daphne Kalotay
Northwestern University Press, 2019

A mystery linking Manhattan circa 1991 to eastern Afghanistan in 2012, Blue Hours tells of a life-changing friendship between two memorable heroines. When we first meet Mim, she is a recent college graduate who has disavowed her lower middle class roots to befriend Kyra, a dancer and daughter of privilege, until calamity causes their estrangement. Twenty years later, Kyra has gone missing from her NGO’s headquarters in Jalalabad, and Mim—now a recluse in rural New England—embarks on a journey to find her. In its nuance, originality, and moral complexity, Blue Hours becomes an unexpected page-turner.


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The Book of Joshua
Jennifer Anne Moses
University of Wisconsin Press, 2018
Eighteen-year-old Joshua Cushing wakes up in a psych ward, not knowing how he got there. Worse, he has only one eye. And no one in his family will tell him what happened to his girlfriend, Sophie. The one thing he knows for sure is that something happened, leaving him with a self and a life he barely recognizes.

Once a popular long-distance runner, Josh is now flabby, frustrated, and furious about returning to his New Jersey high scho ol to repeat his senior year. Forced to attend meetings with other "underage weirdos," he sinks into his loneliness. But when Josh meets Elizabeth Rinaldi, things begin to change. The only other new student in his class, she has a scar on her forehead, a Southern accent, and an attitude. Sharing a status as outcasts and an aptitude for snark, Josh and Elizabeth help each other escape their pasts.

The Book of Joshua weaves an unforgettable story from family secrets, friendship, faith, love, and redemption. It brings readers deeply into the lives of those who suffer from mental illness, as well as the friends and family affected by it.

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Buddhism for Western Children
Kirstin Allio
University of Iowa Press, 2018
Set on the coast of Maine and in the high desert of New Mexico in the late 1970s through the early 80s, Buddhism for Western Children is a universal and timeless story of a boy who must escape subjugation, tell his story, and reclaim his soul. 

In search of community and transcendence, ten-year-old Daniel’s family is swept into the thrall of a potent and manipulative guru. To his followers, Avadhoot Master King Ivanovich is a living god, a charismatic leader who may reveal enlightenment as he mesmerizes, and alchemizes, Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. 

Daniel’s family plunges into a world with different rules and rhythms—and with no apparent exit. They join other devotees in shunning the outside world, and fall under the absolutist authority of the guru and his lieutenants. Daniel bears witness to the relentless competition for the guru’s favor, even as he begins to recognize the perversion of his spirituality. Soon, Daniel himself is chosen to play a role. As tensions simmer and roil, darkness intrudes. Devotees overstep, placing even the children in jeopardy. Daniel struggles with conflicting desires to resist and to belong, until finally he must decide who to save and who to abandon. 

With spiraling, spellbinding language, Allio reveals a cast of vivid, often darkly funny characters, and propels us toward a shocking climax where Daniel’s story cracks open like a kaleidoscope, revealing the costs of submitting to a tyrant and the shimmering resilience of the human spirit. 

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A Cold, Hard Prayer
John Smolens
Michigan State University Press
In 1924, an orphan train passes through the Midwest, and two teenagers, seeking a new life, find nothing but hardship when taken in to live on a farm in Michigan. Mercy, a teenage girl of mixed race, and a boy nicknamed Rope, who lost fingers in a factory accident, become virtual prisoners of Harlan and Estelle Nau, whose children died during the Spanish flu epidemic. After facing abuse, Mercy and Rope flee, making an arduous journey into sparsely populated northern Michigan, where Mercy believes she will find her aunt. After Harlan is found murdered on his farm, police captain Jim Kincaid pursues Mercy and Rope to the cold, barren villages on the Mackinac Straits, but his efforts are complicated by the reemergent Ku Klux Klan, which has formed a coalition with the police deputy Milt Waters and the Dingley brothers, who run a local bootleg operation. Resolute and intrepid, Mercy and Rope develop a bond of mutual trust that helps them navigate a stark American landscape shaped by prejudice, hypocrisy, and fear.

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Cross Over Water
Richard Yanez
University of Nevada Press, 2011
Raul Luis “Ruly” Cruz is a young Mexican American who lives in El Paso, just across the Rio Grande from Mexico, home of his an-cestors and some of his current relatives. As he grows from awkward adolescent to manhood, he negotiates the precarious borders of family, tradition, and identity trying to find his own place in the Chicano community and in the larger world. This is an engaging and moving story of growing up in a borderland that is not only geographical but cultural as well.

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The Deaf Heart
A Novel
Willy Conley
Gallaudet University Press, 2015
Told through a series of quirky, irreverent short stories and letters home during the early 1980s, The Deaf Heart chronicles a year in the life of Dempsey “Max” McCall, a Deaf biomedical photography resident at a teaching hospital on the island of Galveston, Texas. Max strives to become certified as a Registered Biological Photographer while straddling the deaf and hearing worlds. He befriends Reynaldo, an impoverished Deaf Mexican, and they go on a number of unusual escapades around the island.

       At the hospital, Max has to contend with hearing doctors, nurses, scientists, and teachers. While struggling through the rigors of his residency and running into bad luck in meeting women, Max discovers an ally in his hearing housemate Zag, a fellow resident who is also vying for certification. Toward the end of his residency, Max meets Maddy, a Deaf woman who helps bring balance to his life.

       Author Willy Conley’s stories, some humorous, some poignant, reveal Max’s struggles and triumphs as he attempts to succeed in the hearing world while at the same time navigating the multicultural and linguistic diversity within the Deaf world.

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Eleven Miles to Oshkosh
Jim Guhl
University of Wisconsin Press, 2020
As the Vietnam War grinds on and the Nixon presidency collapses, Del "Minnow" Finwick's small world in Wisconsin has blown apart. His father, a deputy sheriff, has been murdered by the unknown "Highway 41 Killer." His mom has unraveled. And a goon named Larry Buskin has been pummeling Minnow behind Neenah High.

Minnow finds support in the company of his roguish grandfather, his loyal pal Mark, and beautiful Opal Parsons, who has her own worries as the first African American student in their school. When the sheriff seems in no hurry to solve the murder, Minnow must seek justice by partnering with unlikely allies and discovering his own courage.

front cover of Eleven Miles to Oshkosh
Eleven Miles to Oshkosh
Jim Guhl
University of Wisconsin Press, 2018
As the Vietnam War grinds on and the Nixon presidency collapses, Del "Minnow" Finwick's small world in Wisconsin has blown apart. His father, a deputy sheriff, has been murdered by the unknown "Highway 41 Killer." His mom has unraveled. And a goon named Larry Buskin has been pummeling Minnow behind Neenah High.

Minnow finds support in the company of his roguish grandfather, his loyal pal Mark, and beautiful Opal Parsons, who has her own worries as the first African American student in their school. When the sheriff seems in no hurry to solve the murder, Minnow must seek justice by partnering with unlikely allies and discovering his own courage.

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Euphrates Dance
A Novel
Hussein Hussein
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2017
Hussein’s Euphrates Dance is a masterfully imagined and brilliantly written story of the universal struggle to seek light in the shadow of dominant horror and tragedy

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Faces in the Fire
The Women of Beowulf: Book One
Donnita L. Rogers
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2013

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A Friend of Kissinger
A Novel
David Milofsky
University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
Thirteen-year-old Danny Meyer's charmed life in Madison comes to an abrupt end when his concert pianist father falls ill and must give up his professorship. The family is forced to move to Milwaukee and live on the edge of poverty as his father's health worsens. Struggling with the change, Danny befriends the son of a gangster. Through brushes with a thrilling world of crime, he soon finds his way to a new confidence. <em>A Friend of Kissinger</em> captures a sentimental and authentic sense of place in a midwestern rust belt city, following a young man learning to make sense of the world around him. 

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Honey in the Horn
H.L. Davis
Oregon State University Press, 2015
Set in Oregon in the early years of the twentieth century, H. L. Davis’s Honey in the Horn chronicles the struggles faced by homesteaders as they attempted to settle down and eke out subsistence from a still-wild land. With sly humor and keenly observed detail, Davis pays homage to the indomitable character of Oregon’s restless people and dramatic landscapes without romanticizing or burnishing the myths.

Clay Calvert, an orphan, works as a hand on a sheep ranch until he stumbles into trouble and is forced to flee. Journeying throughout the state, from the lush coastal forests, to the Columbia Gorge, to the golden wheat fields east of the Cascades, he encounters a cast of characters as rich and diverse as the land, including a native Tunne boy and a beautiful girl named Luce.

Originally published in 1935, Honey in the Horn reveals as much about the prevailing attitudes and beliefs of H. L. Davis’ lifetime as it does about the earlier era in which it is set. It transcends the limitations of its time through the sheer power and beauty of Davis’ prose. Full of humor and humanity, Davis’s first novel displays a vast knowledge of Pacific Northwest history, lore, and landscape.

An essential book for all serious readers of Northwest literature, this classic coming-of-age novel has been called the “Huckleberry Finn of the West.” It is the only Oregon book that has ever won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. With a new introduction by Richard W. Etulain, this important work from one of Oregon’s premier authors is once again available for a new generation to enjoy.

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Jesse Crosse
a novel
Michael J. Moran
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2011

Mike  Moran  first  attended  Little  Rock  Catholic  High  School  for  Boys-all four years.  On  the  basketball  team,  he  was  a  point  guard.  Then,  as "Mr. Moran,"  he taught  English  for forty years, also at Little  Rock  Catholic  High School for  Boys.  Recently  retired,  Moran  wrote  the  boys  a  novel. The tale revolves  around  a  struggling  small-town  basketball  team  with  a  nerdy manager  and  a  Walter  Mittyesque  coach.  Presented  with  too  few  players  to  scrimmage  in  practice,  the  manager  takes  it upon  himself   to  spread the word throughout the school: "We need you on the team." Three young  students  appear,  diminutive  in  stature  and  with  scrawny  chests, unimpressive  at first sight.  But  with  the  trio,  and  their  fleet  leader  Jesse Crosse,  the  team  first  experiences  shock,  then  inspiration   and  constant surprises.  The team  bonds,  leading  to stories that will  be  retold  a very  long time  in  a  small, out-of-the-way  town.  It's not a  long  novel;  like one's high school  years,  it goes  by  before  you  know  it. Only the  message  is eternal.


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Little Lost River
A Novel
Pamela Johnston
University of Nevada Press, 2008
Set in Boise, Idaho in the early 1980s, Little Lost River is the story of two young women who come together in the wake of tragedy. Cindy Morgan is still reeling from the loss of her mother when an accident leaves her boyfriend missing and presumed drowned. When Frances Rogers happens upon the accident site, she stays with Cindy until help arrives. In the aftermath of that night’s events, as Cindy faces her future with a determination often misunderstood as indifference, Frances becomes her source of both support and compassion. Cindy and Frances are determined to find their own lives unencumbered by conventional expectations, but their path to adulthood is neither easy nor clear, and the future that each girl finds is not what she expected or planned. One generation follows another, and in the end, the girls learn that life moves on its own path, that “transformation is what takes you forward. It’s the only constant thing.”

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The Luck of the Fall
Jim Ray Daniels
Michigan State University Press, 2023
In The Luck of the Fall, characters get lost; they fall, but the falls shape their lives in ways that might even be called “lucky”—if luck is defined as survival, despite the scars left behind. They take consolation in their lack of prizes, in the clarity of their failures, while approaching the future with gallows humor and faith in cynicism. Some stories read like dramatic monologues in the longer play of lives along Eight Mile Road on the edge of Detroit, a landmark location throughout Daniels’s six other fiction collections. Among the looming hulks of abandoned factories, near-nihilistic lives struggle in the absence of the comforting shadows those factories provided. Some keep score, some don’t, as they search for validation, however brief, before the curtain comes down and anonymity returns. COVID shows up with its masked consequences, along with addiction, divorce, unwanted pregnancy, and mental illness. None of these characters fit in, but all are trying to keep from being squeezed out entirely. In The Luck of the Fall, the logic of the heart wins out, even as the characters are picking up the pieces of their broken lives, looking for something shiny called hope.

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Miss Carrie
A Novel
Judson N. Hout
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2013

“Set in Arkansas during World War II, Hout’s touching story of an orphaned boy's relationship with the inhabitant of a small town's "haunted house” will keep you guessing, right up to the satisfying ending.  Another endearing novel from Judson Hout."

--Cindy Ward, Dallas, Texas


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Mourner's Bench
A Novel
Sanderia Faye
University of Arkansas Press, 2015
At the First Baptist Church of Maeby, Arkansas, the sins of the child belonged to the parents until the child turned thirteen. Sarah Jones was only eight years old in the summer of 1964, but with her mother Esther Mae on eight prayer lists and flipping around town with the generally mistrusted civil rights organizers, Sarah believed it was time to get baptized and take responsibility for her own sins. That would mean sitting on the mourner’s bench come revival, waiting for her sign, and then testifying in front of the whole church.

But first, Sarah would need to navigate the growing tensions of small-town Arkansas in the 1960s. Both smarter and more serious than her years (a “fifty-year-old mind in an eight-year-old body,” according to Esther), Sarah was torn between the traditions, religion, and work ethic of her community and the progressive civil rights and feminist politics of her mother, who had recently returned from art school in Chicago. When organizers from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to town just as the revival was beginning, Sarah couldn’t help but be caught up in the turmoil. Most folks just wanted to keep the peace, and Reverend Jefferson called the SNCC organizers “the evil among us.” But her mother, along with local civil rights activist Carrie Dilworth, the SNCC organizers, Daisy Bates, attorney John Walker, and indeed most of the country, seemed determined to push Maeby toward integration.

With characters as vibrant and evocative as their setting, Mourner’s Bench is the story of a young girl coming to terms with religion, racism, and feminism while also navigating the terrain of early adolescence and trying to settle into her place in her family and community.

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Navel of the Moon
A Novel
Mary Helen Lagasse
Northwestern University Press, 2015

A freelance writer and journalist, Vicenta (“Vicky”) Lumière has moved beyond her upbringing in the diverse Irish Chan­nel neighborhood of New Orleans. But a visit to her childhood friend Lonnie Cavanaugh in the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women brings back a flood of memories.In Navel of the Moon, the follow-up to her acclaimed debut The Fifth Sun, Mary Helen Lagasse turns to the 1950s and 60s, where a young Vicky learns that the complicated people that we become as adults and the complicated world that adults create are shaped by events in childhood. The adults around her, beginning with her Mexican grandmother, Mimy, the family storyteller—who says she is from the “navel of the moon”—often confound and sometimes trouble Vicky. Yet Vicky’s strength of character is pro­foundly affected by the complexity of life, and in particular that of her troubled childhood friend Lonnie and of Valentina Dreyfus, the Holocaust survivor who becomes Vicky's closest confidante.


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Grace Tiffany
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2013

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Sentimental Education
The Story of a Young Man
Gustave Flaubert
University of Minnesota Press, 2024

A fresh and vivid translation of Flaubert’s influential bildungsroman

Gustave Flaubert conceived Sentimental Education, his final complete novel, as the history of his own generation, one that failed to fulfill the promise of the Revolution of 1848. Published a few months before the start of the 1870 Franco–Prussian War, it offers both a sweeping panorama of French society over three decades and an intimate bildungsroman of a young man from a small town who arrives in Paris when protests against the monarchy are increasing.


The novel’s protagonist, Frédéric Moreau, alternates between aimlessness and ambition as he searches for a meaningful life through love affairs and republican politics. Flaubert’s narrative includes scenes of high drama, as scattered protests across Paris swell into revolution, and quiet moments of self-aware romanticism, crafting a story that possesses the sweep and scope of a historical novel combined with deep emotion and scandalous intimacy. Suffused with tragedy and the poignancy of lost chances and wasted lives, Sentimental Education is sharpened by satirical observations of what Flaubert condemned as the Second Empire’s endemic hypocrisy and willful blindness.


This vibrant, new translation by Raymond N. MacKenzie includes an extensive critical introduction and annotations to help the modern reader appreciate Flaubert’s achievement. Sentimental Education intertwines the personal, the intimate, and the subjective with the political, social, and cultural, embedding Frédéric’s story in the larger arc of what Flaubert saw as France’s decline into mediocrity and imbecility in its politics and manners.


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Slime Line
A Novel
Jake Maynard
West Virginia University Press, 2024

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South of Luck
Jim Guhl
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
It’s the summer of 1945, and sixteen-year-old ruffian Milo Egerson has been shipped from his Minneapolis home to his great-uncle Ham’s farm in rural northwestern Wisconsin. Though his mother puts on a smile and says it’ll do him good to be out in nature, they both know otherwise. Milo’s stepfather, the one who gave him that jagged scar, is set to be released from Stillwater Prison soon and has already promised to finish what he started.
Hoping there are enough miles between the Twin Cities and dusty Milltown, Milo sets about trying to make the most of life without running water and electricity while trying to better understand his own place in the world and what it all means. His tough-guy act softens as he blends into the community and befriends an endearing group of small-town folks. And that’s lucky for him, because to stay safe, he’s going to need all the help he can get.

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The Strange Side of the Tracks
George Avant
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2015


Some kids have to grow up fast. This is the story of Lonnie Tobin, one such young man. Weary of the physical abuse his mother is subjected to from his father, he takes matt ers into his own hands. Convincing her to flee their fearful home life, son and mother sneak away in the night to the small town of Rocky Branch, where they find peace with her family. It is a corner of the world he thought they had left behind forever. But mysteries abound in this little wooded village, and an unexpected adventure begins when word of a nightly monster on the loose stirs fear among the residents. Young Lonnie soon forgets about his father and becomes fascinated by the story, only to find he might be spending a litt le too much time on The Strange Side of the Tracks.


front cover of Sunland
A Novel
Don Waters
University of Nevada Press, 2013
Sid Dulaney, in his mid-thirties, between jobs and short on funds, has moved back to Tucson to take care of his beloved grandmother. To hold down the cost of her prescriptions, he reluctantly starts smuggling medications over the border. His picaresque misadventures involve the lovable eccentrics at her retirement village, Mexican gang threats, a voluptuous former babysitter, midnight voicemails from his exasperated ex-girlfriend, and, perplexingly, a giraffe. This first novel by the winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award proves Waters is an important new voice in American fiction. A big, rollicking, character-filled novel, Sunland is an entertaining and humane view at life on the margins in America today. 

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Where There's Smoke There's Dinner
Regina Carpenter
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2012

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