Other writers start repeating themselves with their second book, but Alice Munro, at 81, still finds fresh things to say in her thirteenth collection of stories, Dear Life. A career standout is "Gravel," which also happens to be her first story about a lesbian, after much earlier gay stories "Turkey Season" and "The Jack Randa Hotel." For once, readers of The New Yorker have a lot to look forward to; only six of the book's fourteen stories appeared in the magazine. Others debuted in Harpers, Granta, Tin House, and Narrative, and two are in print for the first time.
One of a very few openly gay National Book Award winners for nonfiction, Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression rocked critics and readers in 2001. Now comes Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity [Kindle], his nearly thousand-page exploration of how families do or don't cope with kids born different from their parents: gay, autistic, genius, deaf, criminal, etc. Already a media sensation, the book "makes for fascinating and disturbing reading," says Sara Nelson.
Colm Tóibín's new religious novella The Testament of Mary [Kindle] inspired the NYT to rave, "Tóibín is at his lyrical best in The Testament of Mary, a beautiful and daring work…it takes its power from the surprises of its language, its almost shocking characterization, its austere refusal of consolation." The New Statesman called it "a flawless work, touching, moving and terrifying."