Saturday, August 6, 2022

Ten overlooked yet essential novels

Elaine Castillo, named one of “30 of the Planet’s Most Exciting Young People” by the Financial Times, was born and raised in the Bay Area. Her debut novel, America Is Not the Heart, was a finalist for numerous prizes including the Elle Big Book Award, the Center for Fiction Prize, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize and was named a best book of 2018 by NPR, Real Simple, Lit Hub, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Post, Kirkus Reviews, and the New York Public Library.

Castillo's new book is How to Read Now: Essays.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten " books that are perhaps less glimpsed here on our mainstream syllabi and reading lists, yet whose force reverberates across all sorts of borders, in ways indelible, unforgettable, and yes, essential." One title on the list:
The Drone Outside by Kristine Ong Muslim

I’d been a fan of Kristine’s science fiction and fantasy short stories for a long time before I met her at the Philippine International Literary Festival in 2018; I remember her joking/not joking about Manila being an imperial city (she’s from Mindanao, in the South; my family is from the provinces in the North, Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan). She is a prolific writer, and The Drone Outside is just one of her many masterpieces, a collection of spare dystopian stories that terrify, clarify, and renew all at once. Her prose is crisp and lucid yet shot through with wonder and dread in equal measure, and like the best science fiction and fantasy, the politics of her fiction feels inextricable from its ethics and aesthetics; she has a gift for showing us unreal worlds and alien situations that nevertheless begin to ring intimately, hauntingly, familiar.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue