new england literary news

Arlington writer wins Hugo

An illustration from John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere.”
An illustration from John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere.”

Arlington writer wins Hugo

Arlington writer John Chu’s short story, “The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere,” is set in a world where water falls from the sky whenever a lie is told. It centers on a young man who is wrestling with the challenge of telling his traditional Chinese parents that he is gay.

The story, published on after being rejected by 14 outlets, won the Hugo best short-story award earlier this month at the 72d World Science Fiction convention in London.

Chu, in his acceptance speech, said, “I can’t begin to describe how much this award means to me. When I started writing, so many people’s words were: ‘I’m not racist, but . . . ’ ‘I’m not homophobic, but . . . ’ There were so many buts, and they all told me, sometimes in those exact words, that no one was interested, and no one would publish anything I would ever write. So to win a Hugo, and for this story, I can’t put into words how much that means to me.”


Chu’s stories also have been published in the Boston Review and Asimov’s Science Fiction.

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Named after Hugo Gernsback, founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, the Hugo awards are based on votes by the public. Nearly 4,000 ballots were cast for this year’s awards. Past winners of the Hugo short-story award include Neil Gaiman, Octavia E. Butler, Harlan Ellison, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Randy Susan Meyers to speak at fund-raiser

Having worked for 10 years with batterers, many of whom were ordered by the courts to attend the groups she led, Boston author Randy Susan Meyers finds herself continually returning to the pathology of domestic violence.

Now, in her third novel, “Accidents of Marriage” (Atria), being launched on Tuesday with a gathering at Brookline Booksmith, she examines the consequences of a husband’s volatile temper and his wife’s efforts to determine the best course of action for herself and her family.

“I hope that I always chose the ‘gotta know’ of drama over ‘I have something to teach you,’ ” Meyers wrote in an e-mail. “I want to offer the same thing I seek when I read: a great page-turning reading journey. When I write, it’s all about the story — it’s only afterward that I see my obsessions and passions playing out once again.”


On Sept. 10 at 7 p.m., Meyers, along with Marianne Leone, author of “Jesse: A Mother’s Story” (Simon & Schuster), will speak at a fund-raiser at Newtonville Books. A matching donation will be made to one of two foundations for every book purchased. The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund, established in honor of a Wayland teen who died in 2011 at the hands of her former boyfriend, works to end dating violence. The Jesse Cooper Foundation was founded in memory of Leone’s 17-year-old son, who died of complications from cerebral palsy.

Coming out

 “What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” by Randall Munroe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

 “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War”by Karen Abbott (Harper)

 “Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty”by Vikram Chandra (Graywolf)

Pick of the Week

Mary Toni of R. J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., recommends “The Thing About December” by Donal Ryan (Steerforth): “This quintessential Irish novel is both tragic and brilliant, rich with wit and humor, and full of true-to-life, complex characters. First and foremost, there is Johnsey Cunliffe, a sweet and simple soul who tolerates town bullies and schemers and strives to understand a cruel world that is beyond his comprehension.”

Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@