Read Smarter: Regional Fiction from University Presses

Read Smarter: Regional Fiction from University Presses

Read Smarter: Regional Fiction from University Presses

Read Smarter: A University Press Reading Challenge for 2020

Read Smarter is a reading challenge designed by University of Pittsburgh Press, Manchester University PressMIT Press, Northwestern University Press, Syracuse University Press, University of Virginia Press, and Princeton University Press. Each month we will highlight one of the challenge prompts and provide suggested titles to help fulfill the prompts.

Our first prompt for Read Smarter is “Read a book of regional fiction.” We’re defining “regional fiction” as any work of fiction focused on a specific region. You could choose a book set in your region, or a region halfway across the world, as long as it’s published by a university press.

You can download the full checklist here: Read Smarter

Here are some suggestions from participating presses. Feel free to recommend other titles in the comments. We may occasionally update this list.

Out of This Furnace by Thomas Bell (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Region: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Out of This Furnace is a document of ethnic heritage and of a violent and cruel period in our history, but it is also a superb story. The writing is strong and forthright, and the novel builds constantly to its triumphantly human conclusion.

The Dogs of Detroit by Brad Felver (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Region: Detroit, Michigan, United States

The 14 stories of The Dogs of Detroit each focus on grief and its many strange permutations. This grief alternately devolves into violence, silence, solitude, and utter isolation. The stories span a variety of geographies, both urban and rural, often considering collisions between the two.

The Blues Walked In by Kathleen George (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Region: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

An historical novel about Lena Horne that examines issues of race, class, and privilege in Hollywood and Pittsburgh in the 1930s and beyond.

Hartly House, Calcutta by Phebe Gibbes (Manchester University Press)

Region: Calcutta, India

This novel is a designedly political document. Written at the time of the Hastings impeachment and set in the period of Hastings’s Orientalist government, Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) represents a dramatic delineation of the Anglo-Indian encounter.

The Boys by David Lloyd (Syracuse University Press)

Region: New York, United States

“Spare, simple stories that accrue winningly, reminding us of the Machiavellian complexities of childhood, and its occasional quiet victories”—George Saunders,

The Tumble Inn by William Loizeaux (Syracuse University Press)

Region: The Adirondacks, New York, United States

Tired of their high school teaching jobs and discouraged by their failed attempts at conceiving a child, Mark and Fran Finley decide they need a change in their lives. Abruptly, they leave their friends and family in suburban New Jersey to begin anew as innkeepers on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains.

Ballads and Songs of Peterloo by Alison Morgan (Manchester University Press)

Region: Manchester, England, United Kingdom

Ballads and Songs of Peterloo is an edited collection of poems and songs written following the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. This collection includes over seventy poems that were published either as broadsides or in radical periodicals and newspapers.

Shohola Falls by Michael Pearson (Syracuse University Press)

Region: Shohola Falls (Pocono Mountains), Pennsylvania, United States

History and fiction converge with the discovery that Thomas Blankenship’s great-great grandfather is the young man whom Mark Twain used as the prototype for Huckleberry Finn. And Tommy’s life on the road as an orphan parallels Twain’s resourceful Huck Finn. Eventually, his search for the facts and the meaning of his own experience leads Tommy to Chicago, the Southwest, San Francisco, and finally back home to Shohola Falls.

What are you reading this month?