5 Books That Will Surprise You
Prepare to be blown away by some of the best new short fiction on the bookstore shelf.
3 of 5
304 pages; Soho Press
Available at:Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
Set mostly in Nepal, Mad Country chronicles a culture in transition, where fear of witches lives alongside modern technology, pot-smoking hippies visit amid political killings, and family relations fray and tear. Upadhyay gives desperation a razorlike edge, with a side of wry. He describes a local artist as "middle-aged, with a smooth, clean face, almost like a brushed-up photograph." Then adds that the artist was famous for "painting violent images of decapitation and dismemberment that critics praised as extraordinary. A group of young people had already run up to him for his autograph, and the painter obliged them with a deprecatory smile." This barbed comedy of manners takes on elements of dream and myth as it moves toward its scorching denouement. One of the most affecting stories, "An Affair Before the Earthquake," about a couple who part when she goes off to a college in the Midwest, is also the shortest and quietest. Their brief, imaginary reunion encapsulates a world of emotion—in a country on the verge of being destroyed.
— Dawn Raffel