By Kathleen Driskell, Chair, Naslund-Mann Graduate School o f Writing
Spalding University’s Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing faculty members have published a whopping stack of great books recently!
As always, the Naslund-Mann MA and MFA faculty has been busy. Here are fourteen new books, ranging from novels to collections of poetry to books for children and young adults, just released in 2022 or forthcoming soon in 2023, and already appearing on national best-of-year lists and winning starred reviews and literary awards. Purchase these titles from our Naslund-Mann page at Bookshop.org and our proceeds benefit the Spalding MFA in Writing Scholarship Fund.
Kathleen Driskell, Chair and poetry faculty member at Naslund-Mann, has just published The Vine Temple, part of the Cox Family Chapbook Series from Carnegie Mellon University Press. To see The Vine Temple or her other four collections, visit Bookshop.org.
From the publisher: “In The Vine Temple, Kathleen Driskell invites readers to walk with her through past landscapes, including a Confederate cemetery near her turbulent childhood home and more recent hikes in a nearby park, where the sacred and sublime reveal themselves in the natural world. Driskell's poems examine the transmutability of human language and its ability to liberate and exhilarate, while at the same time often encouraging terrible darkness.”
Ellen Hagan, faculty member in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Naslund-Mann, has recently published Don’t Call Me a Hurricane. The publisher Bloomsbury YA describes Hagan’s new book as “an affecting and resonant YA novel in verse that explores family, community, the changing ocean tides, and what it means to fall in love with someone who sees the world in a different way.”
Read what others have to say about Watch Us Rise, Ellen’s “YA feminist anthem” with Newbery Honor author Renée Watson:
“Read this today. Give it to the young person in your life. It is an instruction manual to freedom and love and voice. It is a triumphant example of how literary arts and poetry intersect in our everyday lives and fortify the marrow of our survival.” –Mahogany L. Browne, author of Black Girl Magic and Woke Baby
“A manifesto for budding feminists . . . . An inspiring look at two strong-willed teens growing into even stronger young women ready to use their voices and take on the world..” –Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Naslund-Mann fiction faculty member Rachel M. Harper published The Other Mother with Counterpoint. The Other Mother is Winner of the Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literature Award for Fiction, was shortlisted for the 2022 Over the Rainbow Recommended Book List, and named an Amazon Best Book of the Year.
“The Other Mother is a complex story set over 30 years, weaving two families together—whether they like it or not. It opens on Jenry’s first day at college, which happens to be the alma mater of his mother, who raised him alone, and his famous ballet dancer father, whom Jenry never knew. The narrative is told via rotating character perspectives, alternating two timelines: present day, and the early years of his parents’ lives and relationship. I love the way the author starts with a narrow viewpoint and then widens the lens, immersing you deeper into the story—uncovering facts and questions through each twist and turn. I had big feelings about this book, physically hugging it while feeling all the emotions tingling throughout my body after reading the last words. The journey through the ups and downs of life, love, secrets, growth, and forgiveness, captured me and will leave me thinking about this one for quite a while.” –Kami Tei, Amazon Editorial Contributor
Leah Henderson is a Writing for Children and Young Adults faculty member at Naslund-Mann. Recently, she published the picture book Daddy Speaks Love (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022). Her newest picture book, The Courage of the Little Hummingbird, is due out April 2023 from Abrams Books for Young Readers and received a starred review from Kirkus.
“The art and the careful placement of text guide the eye through the necessarily chaotic scenes. This call to action is for the animals and for anyone who fears the insignificance of their efforts. It’s a powerful message, made accessible and engaging through both Henderson’s writing and Morales’ vibrant, vividly textured illustrations. Outstanding backmatter loaded with hummingbird facts and acknowledgement of the places the animals depicted here live in the real world rounds out this truly special offering. Brave the crowds to get this one, wherever you are.” –Kirkus Reviews
In his sixth book, Lark Ascending (Algonquin), recent winner of the Southern Book Prize in fiction, best-selling novelist Silas House, fiction faculty member at Naslund-Mann, has created a story that “is shot through with such tenderness and humanity, such love and courage and beauty and hope, that it feels almost like a prayer,” says Margaret Renkl.
Kirkus Reviews writes, “In this brutal yet hopeful dystopian, House (Southernmost) creates a day-after-tomorrow scenario in which fires have devastated the globe, the U.S. has been taken over by religious extremists called the Fundies, and Ireland has become a place of sanctuary. That’s where 20-year-old Lark and his parents are headed in a yacht filled with refugees from North America. But as they near land, they find the border has been closed and are attacked. Lark is the only survivor. He ventures inland—before his mother died in the violence, she said to walk to Glendalough, an old monastic settlement. On the way, he hooks up with a stray dog, Seamus, and a rifle-toting widow, Helen, who is in search of her missing son. The trio gets caught up in a war between the Nays (who are opposed to everything) and the Resistance. They pick up Ronan, the young daughter of a bounty hunter, whose presence only complicates matters for the three. . . . [T]he author fearlessly leans into his dark vision and adds texture with flashbacks to Lark’s early years and chapters narrated from Seamus’s point of view. The result is a fiercely visceral reading experience.”
Angela Jackson-Brown, a member of the Naslund-Mann fiction faculty, has just published a novel, The Light Always Breaks, with Harper Muse.
From the publisher: “When equal-rights activism throws Eva and Courtland into each other’s paths, they can’t fight the attraction they feel, no matter how much it complicates their dreams. For Eva, falling in love with a white Southerner is all but unforgivable—and undesirable. Her mother and grandmother fell in love with white men, and their families paid the price. Courtland is already under pressure for his liberal ideals, and his family has a line of smiling debutantes waiting for him on every visit. If his father found out about Eva, he’s not sure he’d be welcome home again.
“Surrounded by the disapproval of their families and the scorn of the public, Eva and Courtland must decide if the values they hold most dear—including love—are worth the loss of their dreams . . . and everything else.
“The author of When Stars Rain Down returns with a historical love story about all that has—and has not—changed in the United States.”
Erin Keane, Naslund-Mann poetry and creative nonfiction faculty member, has published Runaway: Notes on the Myths that Made Me, her debut memoir. Runaway, which came out from Belt Publishing in September 2022, was named a Best Book of the Year by NPR and named one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 by The Millions. The Los Angeles Times listed Keane’s memoir as one of the “Most Anticipated Books of the Fall.”
From the publisher: “In 1970, Erin Keane’s mother ran away from home for the first time. She was thirteen years old. Over the next several years, and under two assumed identities, she hitchhiked her way across America, experiencing freedom, hardship, and tragedy. At fifteen, she met a man in New York City and married him. He was thirty-six.
“Through a deft balance of journalistic digging, cultural criticism, and poetic reimagining, Keane pieces together the true story of her mother’s teenage years, questioning almost everything she’s been told about her parents and their relationship. Along the way, she also considers how pop culture has kept similar narratives alive in her. At stake are some of the most profound questions we can ask ourselves: What’s true? What gets remembered? Who gets to tell the stories that make us who we are?
“Whether it’s talking about painful family history, #MeToo, Star Wars, true crime forensics, or The Gilmore Girls, Runaway is an unforgettable look at all the different ways the stories we tell—both personal and pop cultural—create us.”
Douglas Manuel, poetry faculty member at Naslund-Mann, publishes his second collection. Red Hen Press says, “The speaker of Testify returns to divulge his parents’ love story. Set in Anderson, Indiana, in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, Trouble Funk exposes ways Black Love is thwarted but never destroyed by racism, classism, and sexism. Eschewing the “lyrical I” in favor of a third-person omniscient point of view, this text exhibits how the latter half of the twentieth century rhymes with our current moment when it comes to political division, the hardships that Black folks face, and the rise of toxic right-wing policies. In many ways, Trouble Funk serves as a prequel to Testify in which Douglas Manuel seeks to better understand and love himself, his family, and his country.”
Manuel’s first collection of poems, Testify, won an IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for poetry.
Naslund-Mann fiction and creative nonfiction faculty member Roy Hoffman has published another novel, The Promise of the Pelican (Arcade Crimewise). In a crisp prose style Harper Lee called “lean and clean,” Hoffman writes from an enormous well of compassion. He fills his new novel with a cast of finely drawn characters of all ages and abilities facing life’s harshest challenges and rising to meet them with dignity.
At once a literary crime novel and an intergenerational family drama, The Promise of the Pelican is set in the multicultural South, where justice might depend on the color of your skin and your immigration status. Hank Weinberg is a modern-day Atticus Finch, recently retired as a defense attorney in Mobile, Alabama, and a Holocaust survivor, who fled the Nazis as a young child. With his daughter in rehab, he’s now taking care of his special-needs grandson. Mourning his dead wife, spending mornings fishing on the pier with other octogenarians, he passes the rest of his days watching over his sweet grandson with the help of Lupita, a young Honduran babysitter. When her brother Julio, an undocumented immigrant, is accused of murder, Hank must return to the courtroom to defend him while also trying to save his daughter’s and grandson’s life from spinning out of control. The Promise of the Pelican takes its title from the legend that a pelican will pierce its own breast for blood to feed its starving chicks, a metaphor for one old man who risks all to save the vulnerable.
Dzanc Books has just published The Glassmaker’s Wife, the newest novel from Lee Martin, a faculty member teaching fiction and creative nonfiction at Spalding’s Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing. Martin has written numerous novels, including The Bright Forever, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
About The Glassmaker’s Wife, Kirkus Reviews writes: “Martin creates a subtle and intricate portrait of small-town mores and of the after echoes and reverberations, for those who’ve witnessed it, of sudden, shocking violence.”
Booklist says, “Based on the 1952 murder of Georgine Lyons, Martin’s latest novel explores the crime and its repercussions. . . . Each of those affected narrates her or his own perspective on the story, and the ensemble paints a rich picture of a crime, societal expectations, and the painful echoes in a small town that feels universal.”
Nancy McCabe, a member of the creative nonfiction and fiction faculty at Naslund-Mann, has a debut young adult novel forthcoming: Vaulting through Time (CamCat Books, 2023). At the center of Vaulting for Time is sixteen-year-old gymnast Elizabeth Arlington. Elizabeth doesn’t care that her mother is older than the other girls’ moms or that she doesn’t look anything like her parents. She has too much other stuff to worry about: an embarrassing crush on her ex-best-friend Zach, and changes in her body that affect her center of gravity and make vaulting and tumbling more terrifying than they used to be. But when she makes a discovery that throws her entire identity into question, she turns to Zach, who suggests a way for her to find the answers her mother won’t give her: a time machine they found in an abandoned house.
In addition to Vaulting Through Time, McCabe has published a novel as well as many books of creative nonfiction, most recently Can This Marriage Be Saved? A Memoir (University of Missouri Press, 2020).
A bestselling author and Writing for Children and Young Adults faculty member at Naslund-Mann, Lesléa Newman offers a tender and timely story of a Puerto Rican child facing a hurricane and her concern for the beloved coquís of her home island. Alicia and the Hurricane: A Story of Puerto Rico is published in a bilingual edition by Children’s Book Press. Newman has published more than 75 books for readers of all ages, including the teen novel-in-verse October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, the middle-grade novel Hachiko Waits, and the picture books A Sweet Passover, The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed, and Heather Has Two Mommies.
Maggie Smith is a member of Naslund-Mann’s poetry faculty. In her forthcoming memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, she explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself in lyrical vignettes that shine, hard and clear as jewels. The book begins with one woman’s personal, particular heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes. With the spirit of self-inquiry and empathy she’s known for, Smith interweaves snapshots of a life with meditations on secrets, anger, forgiveness, and narrative itself. The power of these pieces is cumulative: page after page, they build into a larger interrogation of family, work, and patriarchy.
You can read more about all of these authors on our website.
Driskell is author of the poetry chapbook The Vine Temple and full-length poetry collections Blue Etiquette: Poems; Next Door to the Dead; Seed Across Snow; and Laughing Sickness, as well as the standalone Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem. Individual poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Greensboro Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, Appalachian Review, and elsewhere. She is Chair and poetry faculty of the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University.