Underground Fugue by Margot Singer. Singer, who teaches English at Denison University in Ohio, has won a Flannery O’Connor Award for her short stories, and her skill with that concentrated form is evident in this book’s perfectly formed chapters.
Set against the tube bombings in London in 2005, Underground Fugue interweaves the stories of four people dislocated by shock waves of personal loss, political violence, and, ultimately, betrayal. It’s April and Esther has fled New York for London, partly to escape her failing marriage, and partly to care for her dying mother, Lonia. Their lives soon become entwined with their next-door neighbors: Javad, an Iranian neuroscientist, and his college-aged son, Amir, who is drawn to the illicit exploration of the city’s forbidden spaces.
As Esther settles into life in London, a friendship develops with Javad. But when terrorists attack the London transit system in July, the chaos that follows both fractures possibilities for the future, and reveals the deep fault lines of the past.
With both nuanced clarity and breathtaking grandeur, Margot Singer’s Underground Fugue is an elegant, suspenseful, and deeply powerful debut.