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238 pages; Random House

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Paul Harding’s novel Tinkers won the Pulitzer Prize; its stunning successor, Enon (Random House), only raises the bar. In this strangely beguiling story, the sudden death of Charlie Crosby’s teenage daughter, Kate, sends him spiraling into a darkness whose roots reach back to the haunted history of his childhood, family, marriage—even the wronged Salem “witches.” Charlie’s relationship with his wife, Susan, quickly disintegrates with Kate no longer at its center, leaving him free to indulge in nights of drugged and drunken imaginings in boneyard rambles that always lead back to the cemetery where Kate is buried. His neighbors remain at a distance from the unraveling Charlie, watching from behind drawn curtains as he wanders the woods and meadows of Enon, the small New England town where the book is set. His few rare interactions with the living only underscore how unhinged he is: Caught red-handed burgling a neighbor’s home, Charlie ends up consoling the elderly man whose painkillers he has come to steal. He awkwardly confides in a stranger, a convenience store cashier named Manny, and on his way home spills the four supersized cups of coffee he’s just purchased, a small but weighty loss in a life where there seems to be very little left to lose. But finally there is a glimmer of hope. Charlie cleans up and sells the house he’s neglected, which has become a mirror of the chaos inside him, and accepts that there can be moments of near happiness even after tragedy: “Sometimes I sit in tears. Sometimes I sit in a wordless, inexplicable kind of brokenhearted joy.... Sometimes I dream about Kate.”

— Linda McCullough Moore