Laura Stokes

  • Castle

    The opening lines of J. Robert Lennon’s fifth novel, Castle, describe a landscape of impenetrable wilderness, an image that comes to pervade the book. The narrator, a plainspoken man named Eric Loesch, has just returned to his hometown and purchased a large tract of undeveloped forest on the “far western edge of the county,” with only a dilapidated farmhouse at its edge. Loesch has almost no family and few friends and seems determined to avoid any connection to his old life in the area. “I tend to align myself,” he explains, “against the present cultural obsession with the past. . . . I do not

  • Out Backward by Ross Raisin

    When Ross Raisin’s debut novel, Out Backward, was published in Britain earlier this year, it created a moderate stir. The book is currently on the long list for the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the accolades he received yielded a lucrative two-book deal. Despite this acclaim, the author has kept his day job as a London waiter, demonstrating the Yorkshire modesty that permeates the world of this intimate novel.

    Raisin’s narrator is Sam Marsdyke, a lonely young man who has recently been expelled from school and has little choice but to work alongside his taciturn father on their sheep farm in rural

  • The Diving Pool: Three Novellas

    Yoko Ogawa has long been recognized as one of Japan’s best writers of the postwar generation. Yet this prolific author has never received a major English translation of her work, despite an oeuvre that includes more than twenty volumes of fiction and nonfiction. Stephen Snyder has finally undertaken this task, superbly rendering Ogawa’s spare yet intimate style for stories in the New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope. The Diving Pool, also translated by Snyder, is the American debut of three of her award-winning novellas.

    The title novella tells the story of Aya, a teenager struggling with