Our 25th book club is coming up and that means we’ve read 25 great and not so great books. However it also means there are 25 possibly great books that we’ve left unread. We wanted to do something special for our 25th book club anniversary, so we’re introducing the Zombie Round! All the books that just didn’t make it the first time around get another chance in this zombie round. We’ve made brackets of all 22 books that didn’t make it and over the next few weeks you get to vote which one will get another chance to be read.
Our first randomly selected bracket is Roxane Gay vs. Kevin Wilson. We picked An Untamed State to battle The Vacationers by Emma Straub for a summer book for our eleventh book club. Most of us didn’t like The Vacationers that much, so maybe we should give An Untamed State another chance?
Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
It hasn’t been that long since Tunneling To The Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson lost from Things You Should Know by A.M. Homes for our 20th book club. Does this short story collection deserve a second chance now?
Kevin Wilson’s characters inhabit a world that moves seamlessly between the real and the imagined, the mundane and the fantastic. “Grand Stand-In” is narrated by an employee of a Nuclear Family Supplemental Provider—a company that supplies “stand-ins” for families with deceased, ill, or just plain mean grandparents. And in “Blowing Up On the Spot,” a young woman works sorting tiles at a Scrabble factory after her parents have spontaneously combusted.
Southern gothic at its best, laced with humor and pathos, these wonderfully inventive stories explore the relationship between loss and death and the many ways we try to cope with both.
Who will win? The summery An Untamed State or the collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth? It’s up to you!