Laura Moriarty

Three works of historical fiction chosen by a master of the form.



Laura Moriarty's extraordinary debut, The Center of Everything, was a tender coming-of-age novel that captured the complexities of a fraught mother-daughter relationship. Her most recent work of fiction, The Chaperone, is the story of fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks, who leaves Wichita en route to showbiz fame in New York City circa 1922. Along the way, she chafes under the watchful eye of her thirty-six-year-old companion Cora. This week, Moriarty points us to her "three favorite works of historical fiction published in the last ten years."


Books by Laura Moriarty



Rules of Civility

By Amor Towles


"New York City in the 1930s -- it's the Great Depression, but some people still have lots of money, and they're having a grand time. The narrator is Katey Kontent, a well-read daughter of Russian immigrants who gains entrance into this lush world with a mix of luck, charm, and her ability to spar on demand. The writing is relentlessly good -- I could have underlined every other sentence, and the shrewd Katey dispenses pearls of wisdom that seem true for any decade. I listened to The Rules of Civility on headphones while taking daily walks in the woods in Kansas, but the prose was so effortlessly detailed and luscious, I could have been strolling down 5th Avenue on a crisp fall day in 1938."



Delicate Edible Birds

By Lauren Groff


"I originally called this a list of my favorite 'historical novels', but I love this short-story collection so much, I widened the field. A few of these mesmerizing stories are contemporary, but many of them pull you into a different time: one story is set in 1918 New York, another in WWII France, another in 1950s Pennsylvania. I'm amazed at how quickly Groff creates a world with each story, and then how easily the pages turn. I taught some of these stories for my creative writing class at the University of Kansas, and the students were just blown away."



Baby Jesus Pawn Shop

By Lucia Orth


"Set in the Philippines during the brutal Marcos regime, the novel follows Doming, the Filipino driver for a US diplomat. A peaceful person, he's simply trying to survive the increasing violence, but then he finds himself drawn to his employer's isolated American wife, Rue. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (remember Imelda had all those shoes?) make an actual appearance in the book. Before reading Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, I had only a vague understanding of the inspiring history of the Philippines, but Orth's vivid writing and sharply drawn characters made it come to life."

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.