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Oprah Winfrey picks Emancipation-era novel ‘The Sweetness of Water’ for book club

Critics in the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and elsewhere have praised the book. “Harris’ first novel is an aching chronicle of loss, cruelty, and love in the wake of community devastation,” said Booklist. Novelist Richard Russo, the author of “Marriage Story: An American Memoir,” said, “What a gifted, assured writer Nathan Harris is … better than any debut novel has a right to be.” Read more

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For Literary Novelists the Past Is Pressing

For the past two decades, the novels celebrated for defining our time have almost always been books set within our time, from Jonathan Franzen’s voluminous social comedies to Sally Rooney’s smartly self-knowing novels and the seam of contemporary autofiction that has run between them. Historical fiction, by contrast, has not been in fashion. Or, rather, it has been seen as its own fusty fashion, relentlessly uncontemporary and easy to caricature, filled with mothballed characters who wear costumes rather than clothes, use words like “Prithee!” while having modern-day thoughts, and occasionally encounter villains immediately recognizable by their yellow teeth or suspicious smell. Read more

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