The New York Times Book Review featured THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT by Helen Phillips & ALL THAT FOLLOWED by Gabriel Urza—two Henry Holt & Co. debut novels that we’ve been talking up for months now and are finally on shelves!
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT follows Josephine, who spends her days punching numbers into a mysterious database, but soon feels unnerved by her creepy surroundings, sensing that her new employer poses a threat both to herself and to society at large.
“Are we pawns in the thrall of bureaucratic (Kafka) or totalitarian (Orwell) systems? Or are we, in fact, the ones with ultimate power; the arbiters — even unknowingly — of life and death? Helen Phillips deftly interrogates this existential divide in her riveting, drolly surreal debut novel, THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT.
“Ultimately, THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT succeeds because it isn’t afraid to ask the deepest questions. What is the balance of power and powerlessness between two people who love each other? Do individual souls matter? Can we create, should we destroy, and can we always tell the difference?” — New York Times Book Review
“Stories are shape-shifters in ALL THAT FOLLOWED Gabriel Urza’s strange and ambitious debut novel. Set in Spain’s Basque Country, the book revolves around the assassination of Councilman José Antonio Torres, as recounted by three characters: Mariana, his dubiously grieving widow; the American teacher Joni Garrett, who came to Muriga in 1951 and wound up staying for his entire life; and Iker Abarzuza, serving time for murder in an island prison, where he listens to the cries of shorebirds and receives the occasional letter from Mariana.
“ALL THAT FOLLOWED isn’t really about the murder. Its chief interests are memory and perception, and the eerie multidimensionality that arises when they are layered, somewhat imperfectly, on top of each other. On this front, ALL THAT FOLLOWED is a triumph — Urza delineates his characters’ perspectives with remarkable care. Each shows us a different angle of the fictional world, and illuminates a new aspect of Muriga’s past. As we approach the tragedy we knew was coming all along, the surprise turns out to be the surprises that are jumping out behind us — smaller than we expected, maybe, but sadder and stranger, too.” — New York Times Book Review