New novels from masterful writers Namwali Serpell and Amber McBride are available this fall. Serpell, a Zambian-American novelist and professor of English at Harvard University, has offered her second novel, “The Furrows”, following her award-winning debut, “The Old Drift” in 2019. Serpell’s depth and ability to blending emotion and storytelling create a searing story of grief and mystery. In “The Furrows”, the narrator is Cassandra, or Cee, who recounts how, at the age of 12, her 7-year-old brother, Wayne, disappeared under the waves of the ocean, “the great furrows in the ‘water’ like furrows in a field,” writes The New Yorker.
Amber McBride is a lesser-known author whose prose and touching literary language landed a two-book deal with Feiwel & Friends, a Macmillan publisher, in 2020. Her latest book due out in October 2022 is titled “We Are All So Good”. at Smiling,” her second young adult novel after her debut, “Me: Moth.” The book tells the story of young Whimsy who finds himself “back in the hospital for treatment for clinical depression. When she meets a boy named Faerry, she recognizes that they both have magic in their bone marrow. And when Faerry and his family move down the same street, both begin to realize that their lifelines may have twisted and untwisted many times before,” Feiwel & Friends describes.
The two authors, who are just beginning their careers as novelists, reveal the worlds of their protagonists in their own way. Both books are written through the eyes of young people. McBride chooses to incorporate fantasy and magical elements to embolden and push the conflict of her character’s depressed situation. And Serpell chooses to focus on feeling, inner experience and pain alongside the gripping detail of a girl’s younger brother’s swallowing mystery. They approach the experience of a young child in different ways: one through the prism of mental illness and fantasy imagery and the other through the reality and physicality of being lost.
As the careers of these writers unfold, it would be beneficial and positive to pay close attention to the structure and beauty of their writing. These books are the foundations of their personal styles and their ability to execute the articulation of a character’s perspective. “The Furrows” and “We Are All So Good at Smiling” are already polished and reveal a glimpse of what they are capable of through the grace of their current vocals. They have the ability to become masterful, and in a world where black female novelists and their stories have been overlooked and underpublished, the new inclusiveness in major publishing offers these writers, and others, opportunities to hone their job – to continue to write and explore as many complex and interesting scenarios and circumstances as they wish.