Completing a novel is a difficult feat in the best of times, and we haven't had any of those in a while. Because publishing moves slowly, this year brought us several novels that were drafted or revised during the upheavals of 2020, only to be released into a very different world. I want to recognize and celebrate the many, many hands laboring to make books in the face of so many challenges: not only authors but editors, agents, artists, designers, typesetters, copy editors and publicists. Of all the books I read this year, the following stood out as the most accomplished, astonishing or a heady mix of both. They're arranged in the order I read them. THE VIOLENCE, by Delilah S. Dawson, takes place in a post-Covid Florida, in 2025, on the cusp of a very different pandemic. Chelsea Martin lives a seemingly idyllic life in a gated community with her wealthy husband, two daughters and small fashionable dog. But Chelsea's husband is physically and emotionally abusive, and he has systematically cut her off from any friends or support systems apart from her cruel and self-absorbed mother. As a new disease called the Violence spreads — causing brief, individual episodes… Read full this story
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