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Books & Authors

Trauma Narratives in Fiction

"We read to know we're not alone."  William Nicholson, Shadowlands

 

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

A fourth-generation German-American now living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod, who, as an American infantry scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, "the Florence of the Elbe," a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale. This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from Peace.

 

 

 

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

This work depicts the heroic young men of Alpha Company as they carry the emotional weight of their lives to war in Vietnam in a patchwork account of a modern journey into the heart of darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

This is the story--set in post-Civil War Ohio--of Sethe, an escaped slave who has risked death in order to wrench herself from a living death; who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad: a woman of "iron eyes and backbone to match." Sethe lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing intruder who calls herself Beloved.

 

 

 

 

There There by Tommy Orange

 

A large cast of interwoven characters depicts the experience of Native Americans living in urban settings. Perfect for readers of character-driven fiction with a strong sense of place. 

 

 

 

 

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

 

Set in New York and China, the Leavers is the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he's loved has been taken away--and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

 

 

 

Room by Emma Donoghue

Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful--and attempts a nail-biting escape.

 

 

 

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

In Margaret Atwood's dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead's commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive. At once a scathing satire, an ominous warning, and a tour de force of narrative suspense, The Handmaid's Tale is a modern classic.

 

 

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

A memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father--a funeral home director, high school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

 

 

 

 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition ... Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is [their center of gravity] Jude, ... by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he'll not only be unable to overcome--but that will define his life forever.

 

 

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Lex Gracie doesn't want to think about growing up in her parents' House of Horrors. And she doesn't want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped, the eldest sister who freed her older brother and four younger siblings. Her father never made it out of the House of Horrors he created, and her mother spent the rest of her life behind bars. But when her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her siblings-- and with the childhood they shared. 

 

 

 

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