Where The Sun Also Rises is post-war, Normal People is post-recession, late capitalism. And, like Hemingway, Rooney’s writing is sparing, never dwelling longer than necessary. It’s a more modern writerly confidence.
Rebecca Makkai is masterful, balancing forces near perfectly: the sweep of history pulling everyone into its vortex; and the human dramas that play out all the same, “the messes we make on our own.”
Colum McCann is probing memory and stretching the limits of the novel. And not just the memory of his protagonists, but the memory of the land itself. The result is transportive, sweeping but rooted in humanity.
The literal magic is front-loaded in Sharks, but some of the best magic comes toward its conclusion, with Washburn pushing us to broaden our conception of what is magical. It is a welcome debut.