In THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ, by Lilliam Rivera, a Puerto Rican-American family does everything it can to maintain a veneer of perfection for their teenage daughter, Margot. But when she’s caught stealing money, she winds up working in her father’s South Bronx grocery store, and that’s where her education truly begins. A riveting excerpt and Q&A with the author.
In CAKE TIME, Siel Ju’s protagonist has no illusions about family or perfection. She’s left that all behind long ago. A compelling excerpt and Q&A with AFLW Fiction Editor Shilpa Agarwal.
On a precarious journey down a twisting mountain road, a singer-songwriter finds herself on a crash-course with her heart. Her husband awaits at the bottom, but the loops and turns of her life are pointing her elsewhere, a burning for change, a fiery want, a flame.
“You are the interloper now, like the unwelcome snow flurry in late March, when the world wants nothing but to see the leaves and has no patience for flakes blowing across the pavement.”
“Many people ask me why I started dating a Martian and my first response is that I didn’t plan it. It was just one of those things that happen. One minute I was standing at the Eat Right health food store minding my own business and the next I was dating a Martian.”
A sweet summer’s beach trip, two girls and some filth washed in along the shore. A story of the pound and fury of an unexpected encounter, and the refusal to break.
Inside the dreamscape of the Hollywood sign, a love story unfolds, but as in all fairy tales, a villainess appears, and the stars begin to fall.
A heart-pounding-in-ears exploration of the fleeting possibility of a razor-sharp death, a grand, fiery death, in a wearisome and worn-out life. And what a thrill it could be.
“Together you sneak those tiny conversation hearts from a bowl at the librarian’s desk. You leave only a single heart behind. You sit beneath a table and read them to each other. Chalky dye covers your fingers, coats your tongues.”
In her latest acclaimed novel, LITTLE NOTHING, Marisa Silver compels us to look, and look deeply, at how hatred distorts not only those we fear, but ourselves. An excerpt and conversation with HAUNTING BOMBAY author Shilpa Agarwal examining the meaning of “other” and more within and without this extraordinary work.
We have been honored to feature an array of tremendous titles from incredibly talented and diverse writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Here are some of our favorites published in the year we now leave behind.
Read an excerpt from “Wedding Bush Road,” a new novel by David Francis on the complexities of the journey “home,” and a Q&A with the author exploring the freeing power of distance and how the change of regime now challenges writers to “be more aware of the ‘political'” in their work.
An excerpt from the fiery, acclaimed debut novel by Jade Chang, “The Wangs Vs. the World,” and a frank Q&A with the author post-11/9.
A glimpse into the whimsical, weird and compelling debut collection of crafted and surreal stories by Meredith Alling.
Henry Hoke’s dazzling and daring new fiction challenges the concepts of memoir and dreamscape, reality and surrealism, literature and sexuality.
A glimpse into Dana Johnson’s acclaimed new collection of stories set in the heart of Los Angeles that explore love, class and race in intimate and daring ways.
An L.A. story in every sense of it, Gina Frangello’s latest, heralded novel also is a portrait of the modern family in America, examining assimilation, the legacy of secrets and the morality of desire, across ethnicities, nationalities and sexualities.
A window into Rich Ferguson’s visceral and poetic debut coming-of-age novel, NEW JERSEY ME, plus excerpts of the audiobook with music and a Q&A with the author about his inspirations and literary L.A.
Read a haunting excerpt from GRACE, the debut novel by Natashia Deón universally hailed as a new, essential slave novel, and a revealing Q&A with the author on how her work delving into our country’s dark past relates to Black Lives Matter, sex and love.
“Southern California was the perfect place for show business to sink its shallow roots in the era of silent film. Of course, at the time they weren’t actually known as ‘silent films,’ since there was no other kind of film. They were instead called ‘no-talkies.’”
The temptations against staying clean start the moment Dean gets a ride out of rehab.
“From beneath the mattress of the top bunk we retrieve the gold tube of lipstick, found rolling like a lost toy on the rear floorboard of his car.”
In his acclaimed debut novel just released in paperback, author Christopher Noxon depicts the flawed transition for an ad exec-turned-househusband to a Hollywood powerhouse wife, and the machinations of the L.A. lifestyle.
“We prostitutes were all pretty women. We all had metaphorical thick curls of red hair — a head full of beautiful flourishes — and confidently unconfident smiles.”
L.A. noir-inspired drama hits Miami streets in Alex Segura’s mystery series. A peek into the world of a down-and-out journalist turned accidental PI, and a Q&A with the author, ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES comics creator by day, crime writer by night.
In his brazen debut novel, Matthew Binder evokes the romance and revulsion of the image of the debaucherous, celebrated author, grasping to make life work off page.
William Cass explores a tense familial situation for a divorced couple with kids amid a city propped up on all sides by ennui and detachment, where a character’s drive for a T-ball game and a Creamsicle fogs his own humanity.
“When I pictured New York, I must have envisioned something like Wilshire and Fairfax, only with more people walking around, a shootout in progress and some meatball saying ‘fuggedaboutit’ while my wallet was nicked.”
“Now here she stood, on a balcony overlooking Adams Boulevard at a party on a warm Thursday night in June. If her flight hadn’t been delayed she would already be halfway around the world.” LAX to India.
“The priest rushed out of the entrance and raised both of his hands to the sky. He was a swan flapping its wings as his long white robe dangled from his hairy forearms. A group of old women pointed judgmental fingers at Raphael’s car.”
“I found a crooked heart of glass in the driveway in Los Angeles a few days after David left. Or did I? It seems a detail too good to be true. There’s no telling what’s a mirage in all that light in L.A. What’s real and illusion, what’s simply a reflection of all that trapped sun.”
“Nancy said the mortifying truth was what finally pierced her. That plus a poor-fitting pair of slacks I’d bought on Hollywood Boulevard from a touristy clothier who had shoe-polish ads in the window. I strode into his store against every pulsing neon omen, determined to believe he could make me look more substantial than L.A. Nancy asked if I wore the slacks to make girls swoon — like that, we were on my turf.”
“Yesterday my handsomest colleague drove me home from work. We had been held over at the office, and the late summer sun was setting orangely as we left. I waited with my back turned as he locked the front door, surprised that he had the key.”
A fast-moving excerpt from Shanna Mahin’s acclaimed debut novel, tracing the ups and downs of Jess, third-generation Hollywood trouble.
“His spirit is buoyed when he sees the lavender oil in the bathroom mirror. It’s simmering in a glass dish that glows orange over a candle; the lighting is perfect. Behind it: his mother’s curly, red hair swept up, her ivory arms rim the leaden tub against checkered tile. The dish and her hair stand out like the colorized objects in an otherwise black-and-white photo.”
“Hiram ‘Doc’ Hollywood had come to California from the Topeka World’s Fair of ’88 to build a dream factory that would bear his name. But dreams were a rough business. In his years of efforts he could never figure out the formula to get the dreams into the heads of the sleeping people (something his protege Leonardo ‘Leo’ DiCaprio would one day do), and when the dream market took a beating in the Panic of ’96, Doc Hollywood switched to movies.”
“I exist in duplicate. I double your pleasure. I double your fun. I exist in triplicate. I’m three faces of Eve. I’m a bevy of beauties. I’m Girls, Girls, Girls! My name is legion, for I am many. Good blonde, bad blonde. Born blonde, bottle blonde. I’m a blonde bombshell.”
“Rose was born in Long Beach. Wanda in the desert. Barbara Ann was the baby. Honey-colored curls made her mother hum the Beach Boys tune for which she was named. Happily hanging diapers on the homespun line strung between apartment buildings. Moments and myths long gone.”
“She had deftly used the rearview mirror since her early days of driving and rarely wasted time at home on makeup. Efficiency was of the utmost importance to her … a borderline obsession.”
“You think horrible things on your commute through the insidious cesspool that is Los Angeles … Why would anyone want to live here? You are just a dirt speck here. You are no one here. You’re from here.”