Margot Singer’s novel, now titled Underground Fugue, the recipient of the 2013 James Jones First Novel Fellowship, will be published by Melville House in April 2017.
Underground Fugue interweaves the stories of four characters who are dislocated by shock waves of personal loss, political violence, and, ultimately, betrayal. Esther, an American recovering from the death of her adolescent son and the seeming dissolution of her marriage, moves to London to care for her dying mother; Lonia, Esther’s mother, is haunted by memories of fleeing Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II; Javad, their next-door neighbor and an Iranian neuroscientist, struggles to connect with his college-aged son; and Javad’s son, Amir, a self-defined urban explorer, seeks identity and escape from his parents’ bickering. As Esther settles into her new life in London, she becomes fascinated by her neighbors–attracted to Javad and reminded of her own son by Amir. After the 7/7 terrorist attack, Esther “betrays” Amir to the local police. But Amir is no terrorist, and ultimately Esther must confront the consequences of her actions and their connection to the story of her mother’s past.
In addition to the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, Singer has won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, and an Honorable Mention for the PEN/ Hemingway Award for her story collection, The Pale Settlement. She is a professor of English at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.