Belmont Books is thrilled to have three wonderful prose writers visiting for a special event.
In Xhenet Aliu‘s new novel Brass, a waitress at the Betsy Ross Diner, Elsie hopes her nickel-and-dime tips will add up to a new life. Then she meets Bashkim, who is at once both worldly and naive, a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams–and wound up working as a line cook in Waterbury, Connecticut. Back when the brass mills were still open, this bustling factory town drew one wave of immigrants after another.Wondering if the key to her future is unlocking the secrets of the past, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. Told in equally gripping parallel narratives with biting wit and grace, Brass announces a fearless new voice with a timely, tender, and quintessentially American story. Aliu’s debut fiction collection, Domesticated Wild Things, and Other Stories, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in Glimmer Train, The Barcelona Review, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere.
Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (The Fact of a Body) begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes–the moment she hears him speak of his crimes — she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar. By examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime. A 2014 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Marzano-Lesnevich has received a Rona Jaffe Award and has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Her essays appear in the New York Times, Oxford American, as well as many other publications.
In Gabrielle Fuentes‘s debut novel, we find ourselves in 1977 Spain. Military rule is over. Bootleg punk music oozes out of illegal basement bars, uprisings spread across towns, fascists fight anarchists for political control, and students perform protest art in the city center, rioting against the old government, the undecided new order, against the universities, against themselves…Mosca is an intelligent, disillusioned university student, whose younger brother is among the “disappeared,” taken by the police two years ago, now presumed dead. Spurred by the turmoil around them, Mosca and her friends commit an act that carries their rebellion too far and sends them spiraling out of their provincial hometown. But the further they go, the more Mosca believes her brother is alive and the more she is willing to do to find him. The Sleeping World is a “searing, beautifully written” (Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban) and daring novel about youth, freedom, and our most visceral need: to keep our loved ones safe. Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes is Cuban-American and grew up in Wisconsin.