Category Archives: New Books Network Podcasts

O’Callaghan, Billy – Life Sentences

“I’d been in Barrett’s pub since six, drinking fast and heavy. The few other men at the bar saw enough to keep to themselves, and though I had come straight from the fields, having spent the day since first light cutting grass for silage, and after the second pint had no more money in my pocket, the drink kept coming at me and I kept putting it away. A couple of hours in, I’d yet to feel the effect, and it was because of weariness finally, and maybe also because of a need to be alone, that I gave up my place at the counter and oved instead to the bench seat in shadow at the end of the lounge, with a table for my glass and the wall to support my back.”

Goudarzi, Sara – The Almond in the Apricot

“The basement smells wet. Other than random flashes of light coming through the small window, it’s dark everywhere. I’m squatting on the cold concrete floor under a wooden table, covering my ears with my hands and wondering if our house will still be here tomorrow. Mom and Dad are sitting on chairs a few meters away. They’re quiet. I don’t like sitting on a chair. The table is like another roof. I told my parents it’s like playing house, and they said it was okay. We all do different things when the lights are cut and the air raids begin.”

Manansala, Mia P. – Homicide and Halo-Halo

Curls of smoke drifted around the Brew-ha Café, a pleasant floral aroma filling the space while hints of an unknown herb tickled my nose, making me sneeze. “Salud,” said Elena Torres, the pierced-and-tatooed woman holding the smoldering bouquet, as she wafted a bit more smoke toward me. Adeena Awan, Elena’s girlfriend and my best friend, stood next to her, breathing the mixture in, bathing in the smoke. I held back a cough. “didn’t we already cleanse the place?” Elena nodded, circling me with the smoke-cleansing stick in her hand. “Yes, but I did some research and saw that guava leaves were used in ancient Filipino practices the same way the indigenous people here use sage. Thought it would bring some good energy into the shop and be something nice for your ancestors, without us having to appropriate white sage. This is a special blend of guava leaves, rosemary, and lavender my mom and I grew in our greenhouse.”

Brown, Teri M: Sunflowers Beneath the Snow

“Lyaksandro was aware of just three things. The slit of sun sneaking through the hurriedly closed curtains in an otherwise claustrophobic room. The air sucking into his lungs only to escape again in uneven gasps. And the unsympathetic, unyielding metal pressed against his temple awaiting his decision. How had he gone from a simple man – a university employee, a son, a father, a husband- to a man facing a decision at the end of a gun?”

Hicks, Patrick: In the Shadow of Dora

“He was tired and cold when he arrived from Auschwitz. The moon hung above him, battered and beaten, as he trudged down a long concrete road with thousands of other men. The train that had carried him across Germany huffed in the night. A whistle pierced the frosty air – it was a single note, strangled into silence. The huffing engine took on water as he licked his dry lips. He tried to swallow. Searchlights paced the dark as dogs strained against their leashes, their front paws wheeling the air. Guards stood along the road and yelled at the prisoners to move faster, faster. Behind him, bodies were tossed from the railcars. They his the pebbly ground in sickening hard thuds. Stones skittered away.”

Ellis, Lyndsey: Bone Broth

“What could she say for herself? My husband ordered me to help kill him, so I did? Her defense sounded weak and bizarre. Even Wesley wouldn’t have believed her, if he hadn’t done what he did. The truth was absurd. Justine hadn’t told a soul. Definitely not her kids. Not even Bev. It made more sense to create a new truth. A few weeks after Wesley’s funeral, Justine started stealing from the funerals of dead folks-some she knew, but mostly those she didn’t-not to be sordid or cruel, but because she wanted to recreate her past with pieces of truths that came from other people’s past.”

McCormack, Judith: The Singing Forest

“Children found the bones more than once. This was one of those times. They should have known something, of course. They did know. They didn’t know. They had no idea it was as bad as that. It was a soft, deadly secret that had settled into the small forest, blanketing the ground, wrapping itself around the rough skin of the trees. The people nearby tended it silently, patting its edges, smoothing it, the metallic taste of it always in their mouths. As soon as they thought they knew it, though, as soon as they believed they could run their hands along its contours in their sleep, they would remember something else, hear about something else, something they had forgotten or perhaps never knew. Then the secret would assume a different shape, a new form, still soft and baleful.”

Chancy, Myriam J.A. – What Storm, What Thunder

“When the earth moved, the houses fell to the ground within seconds, jolted when the ground stopped swaying and crushed everything that had remained. The girls were not the only ones left crying below: the whole street swayed; the earth rippled like a carpet heaving itself of crumbs and dirt that a distracted housekeeper had forgotten to sweep away. I left my stand and all my wares- the piles of mango, the eggs (they would fall, smash against the ground), the packs of Chiclets, the ripe avocadoes- and made my way toward the voices, not thinking of my own small house up and away in the hills.”

Odden, Karen — Down a Dark River

“Most of us Yard men would say that over time we develop an extra sense for danger close at hand. For me, the earliest glimmer of it appeared when I was still new to Lambeth division, wearing a scratchy blue coat with shoulders a few inches wider than my own, and I felt my way for the first time down a shadowed alley, truncheon in hand, braced for whatever skulked around the corner. After a dozen years of policing, I liked to believe my instinct had been honed to a keen blade. That I’d seen enough London crime not to be surprised by much. That I could sense the approach of something especially vicious by a prickling along my arms or a tightening below my ribs.”