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The Isle of Youth
By Laura van den Berg
The best short-story writer you don’t know followed up her brilliant 2008 debut with this equally amazing collection in which the stories of women who have run away from or been left by men are told with subtle symbolism and a masterful command of storytelling and sentence structure.
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The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
By Adelle Waldman
Writing from the point-of-view of the opposite gender, the debut novelist perfectly depicts what it’s like to be a young male writer living in Brooklyn in the 21st century. Maybe it’s just because that’s so close to our own experience, but we cherish the book’s humor and insight into modern relationships as it charts the blossoming, and quick dissolution, of romance.
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By Scott McClanahan
Though released months apart by different publishers, these two coming-of-age books are companion pieces, charting the author’s formative years in West Virginia through his relationships with family and his friends. They’re funny but also moving, given to bursts of wide-eyed poetry as they contemplate death and love and the ties that bind us across place and time.
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A Questionable Shape
By Bennett Sims
This apotheosis of highbrow genre fiction is a philosophical inquiry into the phenomenology of zombiehood, making the affliction neatly parallel to the human experience—that is, the emotional fallout from an undead almost-apocalypse is not unlike the one people confront everyday from their relationships: are we all already “undead”?