Jane Ciabattari

Jane Ciabattari is the author of the short-story collections Stealing The Fire and California Tales. Her reviews, interviews, and cultural reporting have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, the Paris Review, the Boston Globe, The Guardian, Bookforum, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and BBC.com among others. She is a current vice president/online and former president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Dana Spiotta's fearless, ambitious new novel is the fourth in a remarkable series of deep dives into our culture's obsession with fame and technological change. Like her 2001 debut, Lightning Field, its main characters are shaped by Los Angeles, where the primary influence is film. Like Stone Arabia (2011) in which a woman watches her beloved brother, a never-famous rocker, document a faux career, Innocents and Others emphasizes the fragility of human connection in a world saturated with media and digital illusion.

Paul Goldberg's audacious first novel begins at 2:37 a.m. on Feb. 24, 1953, when a Black Maria, a car used to transport prisoners through the night, leaves the "improbably tall, castle-like gates" of Lubyanka, Moscow's KGB headquarters and prison. Three men — a state security officer and two young soldiers — are inside, on their way to arrest a Red Army veteran and onetime Moscow State Jewish Theater actor named Solomon Shimonovich Levinson.

Colum McCann's first story collection since his novel Let the Great World Spin won the National Book Award makes it clear that his work is growing ever more textured and timely — and he has few contemporary parallels as a storyteller.

The collection's title comes from a Wallace Stevens poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." "The first is hidden high in a mahogany bookcase," McCann writes in the first sentence of the title novella. It's not a bird he's describing, but a camera, eyeing the full expanse of the bedroom where Eliot Mendelssohn lies sleeping.

Bonnie Jo Campbell burst upon the literary landscape in 2009 with a collection called American Salvage that was raw and resonant, telling stories of the Rust Belt with frankness and an infinite patience for the voices of those whose stories are often left untold. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle award. And now she's back, after a novel (Once Upon a River, an updated female Huck Finn tale) with an even stronger collection.

Like The News from Paraguay, Lily Tuck's National Book Award-winning 2004 novel, The Double Life of Liliane is a fragmented narrative, a mosaic of storytelling that is both poetic and absorbing.