October 15, 2016 Booklist 31 www.booklistonline.com
Brooks. 1953. Third World, $12.95
U.S. poet laureate and the first African
American woman to win the Pulitzer
Prize, Brooks brought her crisp lyricism to her sole venture into fiction, a
coming-of-age novel told in exquisite
vignettes that trace Maud Martha’s
experiences in an African American
neighborhood in Chicago.
Montaro Caine. By Sidney Poitier. 2013.
Spiegel & Grau, $26 (9780385531115).
The first African American to win an
Academy Award for Best Actor, in 1964,
Poitier published his first novel at age 86,
a riveting blend of corporate intrigue and
science fiction starring Montaro Caine, a
mining CEO besieged by takeover sharks
and fascinated by a mysterious coin with
Not without Laughter. By Langston
Hughes. 1930. Touchstone, $16
Harlem Renaissance poet Hughes’ semiautobiographical first novel portrays an
African American boy sensitive to matters
of class, religion, and race, growing up in
a small town in Kansas.
The Road through the Wall. By
Shirley Jackson. 1948. Penguin, $15
Jackson, the subject of an excellent
2016 biography by Ruth Franklin, is
best remembered for her short stories,
especially the indelible “The Lot-
tery.” But the same year that eerie tale
appeared in the New Yorker, the 28-year-
old had her first novel published, a
sharply satirical tale about an orderly,
self-righteous California neighborhood
abruptly opened to outsiders.
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.
By Tennessee Williams. 1950. New
Directions, $15.95 (9780811221450).
The avidly praised debut novel by essential dramatist Williams (A Streetcar Named
Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) tells the
dark story of a love affair in Rome between
a wealthy, suddenly widowed American
actress aging away from her famed beauty
and a young Italian who turns out to be a
gigolo, a tale that inspired two screen adaptations, one in 1961, the other in 2003,
which starred Helen Mirren and Anne
Bancroft in her last role.
Snow White. By Donald Barthelme.
1967. Touchstone, $13.99
Seven years after his stories began appearing in the New Yorker, Barthelme’s
first novel was published, a fractured
variation on the “Snow White” fairy tale
told from the syncopated perspectives of
the seven dwarfs, Snow White, and her
The Village. By David Mamet. 1994.
Little, Brown, $11.95 (9780316191005).
Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Mamet’s unconventional first novel is written
primarily in dialogue and portrays, with
gathering intensity, the troubled denizens
in a small New England town.
A Fairly Good Time. By Mavis Gallant.
1970. New York Review, $16.95
Although Nobel laureate Alice Munro,
one of the world’s most cherished short
story writers, has not written a novel,
another Canadian master of the form,
Gallant, who had 116 stories published in
the New Yorker and lived most of her life
in Paris, wrote two, and both are collected
here. Her debut novel, Green Water, Green
Sky (1959), portrays, with concision and
edgy humor, a divorced American mother
and her teenage daughter adrift and at
odds in Europe.
The Hottest State. By Ethan
Hawke. 1996. Little, Brown, $26.99
Actor Hawke’s brief debut novel
is—surprise!—about a brooding,
21-year-old actor from Texas who is
seeking fame in New York and who
finds himself overwhelmed by Sarah,
an ardent feminist, preschool teacher,
House of Earth. By Woody
Guthrie. 2013. Harper, $15.99
Mighty singer-songwriter Guthrie, of
“This Land Is Your Land” glory, completed his only novel in 1947, but it did not
see the light of readers’ eyes until Johnny
Depp selected it in 2013 as the inaugural
title in his HarperCollins imprint, Infinitum Nihil. A Dust Bowl saga set in the
Texas Panhandle, it tracks the struggles of
Tike and Ella May Hamlin.