Kathryn Ma's debut novel is a family epic that uses international adoption as a lens through which to explore race, identity, and family, as well as the pressures of professionalism on the private lives of contemporary women. Set in three parts that resemble the acts of a dramatic play (Ma is a theater lover and a longtime board member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), The Year She Left Us is told in four strong female voices; two are in first person, one is in third, and one is omniscient. There is so much subtle architecture to the novel, and it's so well-executed, that it's easy to devour, but rewarding to savor. And that's OK, because the characters are real and do not end when the book does. Ma's first book was the story collection All That Work and Still No Boys, which won the 2009 Iowa Short Fiction Prize.
Mon., May 19, 7 p.m., 2014