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Laura van den Berg

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Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her stories have appeared in Conjunctions, The Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, One Story, and have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize XXIV. She is the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Sewanee Writers Conferences, Ragdale, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Genres: Literary Fiction
Laura van den Berg recommends
13 Ways of Looking At a Fat Girl (2016)
Mona Awad
"Hilarious and cutting...Mona Awad is a strikingly original and strikingly talented new voice."
Pull Me Under (2016)
Kelly Luce
"I could not stop turning the pages of Kelly Luce's hypnotic debut. Pull Me Under is a fierce and suspenseful exploration of the profoundly mysterious nature of identity, written with precise and spectacular beauty."
Things We Lost in the Fire (2017)
Mariana Enríquez
"When I read Mariana Enriquez's stories, I forget where I am. I miss my subway stop. I hold my breath. Her fiction is that pulse-racingly superb, that electric and original."
The Night Ocean (2017)
Paul La Farge
"An electric exploration of horror, obsession, madness, and mystery."
Daphne (2018)
Will Boast
"Richly meditative and quietly suspenseful, Daphne breathes fresh vigor into timeless questions about love and risk - the unknowable cost of fully opening one’s heart to another. Will Boast writes beautifully about life’s daily moral gambles, and Daphne is an outright marvelous debut."
Where the Dead Sit Talking (2018)
Brandon Hobson
"Where the Dead Sit Talking is a sensitive and searching exploration of a youth forged in turbulence, in the endless aftermath of displacement and loss. Sequoyah’s voice is powerfully singular—both wounded and wounding—and this novel is a thrilling confirmation of Brandon Hobson’s immense gifts on the page."
Bury What We Cannot Take (2018)
Kirstin Chen
"In Maoist China, the family at the center of this propulsive, haunting story is fractured by the dazzlingly complex fallout of a single irrevocable act. This beautifully plotted, suspenseful, and deeply compassionate novel shows Kirstin Chen, whose work I’ve long admired, at her absolute finest. Bury What We Cannot Take is a vital book."
MEM (2018)
Bethany C Morrow
"The moment I opened Bethany C. Morrow’s thrilling and unsettling MEM, I could not stop turning the pages. Dolores Extract #1 - a 'Mem' - defies the rules of her world in a harrowing quest for autonomy and understanding. Her journey generates a deeply powerful inquiry into memory, trauma, ownership, and freedom?into the very essence of what it means to be human. This gorgeously written novel is one of the most enthralling and original debuts I’ve read in years."
Remind Me Again What Happened (2018)
Joanna Luloff
"Remind Me Again What Happened is a profound and elegiac exploration of the relationship between memory and identity, the way one has the power to remake the other. Joanna Luloff is a splendid writer, and this haunting novel is a wonderful testament to her gifts."
Women Talking (2018)
Miriam Toews
"Miriam Toews's Women Talking is a flawless, ferocious work of art. I have yet to read a more scathing indictment of patriarchal violence, or a more illuminating quest to comprehend the most vital contours of the human experience: what is agency, what is meaning, what is justice, what is love. This is the kind of novel that changes you. Get ready."
The Heavens (2019)
Sandra Newman
"Heady and elegant . . . The Heavens is something of a chameleon, a strange and beautiful hybrid . . . I woke from The Heavens as I hope to emerge from any work of fiction: moved and unsettled, a new and intoxicating set of questions alight on the mind's horizon."
Strange Hotel (2020)
Eimear McBride
"In Strange Hotel, a nameless woman’s voyage through a string of hotel rooms gradually reveals an inner world of striking tumult and depth, as her meditations draw her, and us, deeper into the unsettled tides of her own past. Eimear McBride has created a powerfully hypnotic novel of consciousness, one that traces the intricacies of thought and memory in prose so thrilling, so dagger-sharp, it makes the heart race."
Enter the Aardvark (2020)
Jessica Anthony
"Enter the Aardvark is one wild ride: a condemnation, a haunting, a song of love, a madcap political thriller - and it is absolutely unputdownable."
All My Mother's Lovers (2020)
Ilana Masad
"Ilana Masad’s All My Mother’s Lovers is a stunning excavation of the profound destabilization of grief, the secrets that twist like vines around the root system of a family, and the terror and grace of learning to be vulnerable before others. Maggie and Iris, the daughter and mother that sit at this novel’s heart, are both indelible, with a bond that not even death can demolish. A giant-hearted and sharply funny debut."
Book of the Little Axe (2020)
Lauren Francis-Sharma
"Book of the Little Axe is epic in ambition and scope, a sweeping tale that illuminates pivotal historical periods in Trinidad and North America, and the links between them. This is also the story of a young man’s coming of age and a mother’s secrets and a family’s love in the face of violence. Lauren Francis-Sharma brings her characters and their tangled histories to life with tremendous precision and sensitivity. This is the work of a major voice, a brilliant talent."
Parakeet (2020)
Marie-Helene Bertino
"Marie-Helene Bertino is one of my favorite writers working today, and her latest is one rare gem of a novel. In Bertino’s hands, anything seems possible, from a dead grandmother returning in the form of a bird to finding unexpected wonder in our strange and broken world, profound redemptions of the heart. Parakeet enchants and enthralls."
Filthy Animals (2021)
Brandon Taylor
"The characters at the heart of this elegant storm of stories are ablaze with risk and tenderness. Their voices are bright and clear, the contours of their pains and desires sharp and urgent. A profoundly gifted writer."
Call Me Cassandra (2022)
Marcial Gala
"I admire greatly the nimbleness of Marcial Gala's prose, the way his sentences swing effortlessly from emotional ruin to beauty to gallows hilarity and back again. As the storyline cuts between Rauli's childhood in Cienfuegos and his life as a soldier in Angola, a portrait of an unforgettable and defiant spirit emerges. Call Me Cassandra is a searching and uncompromising story about the vast complexities of displacement, the breathtaking power of the imagination, and the tidal pull of fate. I love this novel."
Manywhere (2022)
Morgan Thomas
"Morgan Thomas is an artist of landscape, from the humid peculiarities of the American South, to the bodies and imaginations of these urgent, searching characters. I was awed by the kinetic, alive, innovative, and spell-casting stories in Manywhere, a debut collection that reads like an magnum opus."
Nobody Gets Out Alive (2022)
Leigh Newman
"A thrilling collection. Leigh Newman's indelible characters chart the turbulent waters of hope and regret in an Alaskan landscape that crackles with danger and wonder. These are gritty and powerful stories, from a wildly gifted writer."
Night of the Living Rez (2022)
Morgan Talty
"Night of the Living Rez is an indelible portrait of a family in crisis, and an incisive exploration of the myriad ways in which the past persists in haunting the present. I loved these sharply atmospheric, daring, and intensely moving stories, each one dense with peril and tenderness. Morgan Talty is a thrilling new talent."

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