Jackson Adams and Anna Weir are publicists at UNP. Today they share their thoughts about a few upcoming titles they’re particularly excited about as readers. The books in this discussion will be published in September.
Jackson Adams: On my very first day at the press, I dived into a massive stack of manuscripts that were sitting on my desk and one of the books that stuck with me the most is Luisa Muradyan’s American Radiance. It’s a slim volume but one packed with evocative, heart-wrenching descriptions of the pain of assimilation drawn from Muradyan’s experience immigrating from Ukraine to the United States as a child in 1991. It’s poems like “Schwarzenegger in Prayer” and “Macho Man Randy Savage” which capture the aggressive strangeness of Post-Reagan America, that will articulate something familiar to most readers but it’s works like “Raptor” and “Moscow, 1972” that draw readers into the particular sense of loss Muradyan is so capable of evoking.
What are you excited for next month, Anna?
Anna Weir: I’m a prose girl myself and am excited to see Sara Batkie’s Better Times officially out in the world. This collection of short stories about women—mothers, daughters, women who are ill or used to be or can’t remember either way—steps into the American literary scene at a really sensitive moment. In stories where the rest of the world is distracted by war or climate change, Batkie intentionally zeroes in on the painful, difficult-to-describe-yet-no-less-real experiences of characters who, in the hands of many other writers, tend to be overlooked. This is not a collection to miss—and if you happen to be reading this from the Brooklyn area, be sure to stop by her reading at Books Are Magic this Friday.
What else are you looking forward to, Jackson?
JA: One of the things that I think our Potomac Books imprint does consistently is focus on the little-known people who’ve had a massive impact on world events. Rodger McDaniel’s portrait of Robert McGee, the last Democrat Senator from the state Wyoming, in The Man in the Arena, is another great example of this ethos. McGee’s place in American politics, serving during World War II, through the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, is a fascinating one and spotlights not only the way one man’s views changed and evolved but the way a nation’s did as well.
AW: Speaking of books we’re known for—I’m thrilled to be working on the next volume in UNP’s Flyover Fiction series. These are works of fiction rooted in the Great Plains, a region often more clearly defined by what it isn’t than by what it is. In Ruby Dreams of Janis Joplin, Mary Clearman Blew follows a returned runaway to explore small-town Montana life, the repercussions of abuse, and our ability to heal.
While watching a musical together, my former roommate (a theater major) observed, “They start singing when words aren’t enough.” As in theater, music buoys Blew’s characters—many of them musicians—as they try to understand their experiences, their feelings. This is an ambitious work and I’m excited to send it singing into the world.
Tune in next month for more reading suggestions from your friendly neighborhood publicists!