Wordplay TBR Pile: Fiction Part III: Levity, Love, Drama, and Rage

Works of fiction often reflect parts of ourselves and show the emotions that we thought no one else felt or even knew about. It offers us the opportunity to escape into daring adventures, to gain perspective and grow, to feel giddy when the lovers finally meet, or, simply, to laugh and cry. But, overall, we enjoy fiction because it allows us to feel connected to a story beyond ourselves that’s also somewhat a part of us. From romantic fiction, literary dramas, family and historical dramas, gripping page turners, and every blend between and beyond, there is sure to be a work for everyone coming to virtual Wordplay this spring. 

So, without further ado, dear humans, take a gander at the list below for all your fiction needs!


A Little Levity

Humor is a very difficult genre to execute and doesn’t always look the same. It operates with comedy but also with honesty. It unpacks complexities of human emotion or the difficult situations that life deals out and allows us to feel connected to characters' attempts to handle it while still handling themselves—something everyone can relate to. Humor can also offer serious commentary on societal issues that forces you to open your eyes a little bit wider. It is within the honesty and the chaos that we, as the reader, can find ourselves and the truth/levity that we’re searching for. To see how the ever-expanding world of humor comes to Wordplay 2020, take a look at the wondrous works below.


Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein-Knight

In this beautifully chaotic novel about love, obsession, ambition, and poisonous plants, Rebecca Dinerstein-Knight once again uses a spellbinding voice to explore human emotion and all the ways that it can plague us. 



Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

In Interior Chinatown, Charles Yu takes humor to racial stereotypes and type-casting in the Hollywood machine as he follows one man’s effort to break free of the roles he's forced into both on and off the screen. Humorous and heartfelt, Charles Yu’s novel teaches us how to be the heroes of our own stories. 



Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth

No longer able to turn a blind eye to the immoral practices of the egg industry, two auditors construct a plot to steal a million chickens in one night. What ensues is an epically rare heist that forces mankind to confront the issues plaguing our world. With a serious yet tender heart, Unferth delivers a comic-political drama that forces us to think about who we are and what our practices leave behind. 


Love, Drama, Rage! 

Life is complicated and messy, and it’s full of people who are even more complicated and even more messy. But when you take the time to tell those stories or simply listen to them (or, in this case, read them), there is an opportunity for connection. Whether that connection comes through relative experiences of joy, trauma, drama, hardship, or rage, it’s a connection that allows you to feel a little less alone. These works cover topics of rage, love, friendship, mundanity, self-discovery, sexuality, social commentary, and societal drama to explore the world that we live in and what happens when people collide. 


Starling Days: A Novel by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Starling Days follows a young woman on her journey to reclaim her sexuality, agency, happiness, and mental health. With her husband, Oscar, oblivious to her needs, Mina takes her life into her own hands in an effort to save herself and her marriage. 



A Fist or a Heart by Kristín Eiríksdóttir

In her early seventies, Elín Jónsdóttir becomes fascinated with another loner, Ellen Álfsdóttir, a sensitive young playwright and illegitimate daughter of a famous writer. As the two women connect between shared experiences of trauma and unpack their harrowing memories, Elín finds herself becoming less and less tethered to reality. 


Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Casey Peabody is dealing with conflicting life and love paths, rising debt, and lost aspirations when her mother suddenly passes away. Forced to play the cards life has dealt her, Casey explores how to live life in transition. Powerful and sincere, King offers a story that reminds us that everything will be okay. 



This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples

Covering themes of cultural importance, class divide, and LGBTQ+ relationships, Staples looks into the foundations of a small town. When Marion Lafournier, a midtwenties gay Ojibwe man, awakens the spirit of a dog from beneath an elementary school playground, what follows is a story of history, culture, and what goes into the shaping of the world around us. 


Apartment by Teddy Wayne

When a grad student invites a stranger to live in his apartment rent free, what follows is a contentious relationship that neither could predict. Teddy Wayne weaves an intriguing tale about what happens when we open our most intimate personal spaces to the unpredictability of a stranger. 



Flannelwood: A Novel by Raymond Luczak

What happens to us when we fall in love? More importantly, what happens to us when we lose that love? When Bill is abandoned by his lover, James, a thought-provoking journey through the levels of human emotion begins. Luczak explores the intricacies of masculinity, disability, and LGBTQ+ relationships in this profound novel about the power of love. 


Quotients by Tracy O’Neill

Quotients follows a couple balancing split identities, information/misinformation, big data, and technology corporations. Clever and commanding, O’Neill takes the reader on a journey through an age wrought with paranoia to answer the question of what it means to be connected to the world and whether we're really even connected to one another.


Temporary by Hilary Leichter

In Temporary, a young woman bounces between odd jobs. Ranging from the mundanity of office work to the eccentric swashbuckling life as deckhand for a pirate ship, Leichter explores the meaning of work and the idea that sometimes your greatest job is simply doing your best. 



And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories and Other Revenges by Amber Sparks

Women are angry and have every right to be. In this collection of urgent stories, Sparks majestically blends magic, power, and female rage to provide an otherworldly look at the all-too-familiar world of a society that refuses to recognize its Queens.