Literary Hub is pleased to reveal the cover for National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree and Center for Fiction and VCU Cabell First Novel prize finalist Lydia Kiesling’s second novel, Mobility, which this August will be the first book to be published on the new imprint from Crooked Media, Crooked Media Reads. Here’s a bit about the book from the publisher:
The year is 1998, the End of History. The Soviet Union is dissolved, the Cold War is over, and Bunny Glenn is an American teenager in Azerbaijan with her Foreign Service family. Through Bunny’s eyes we watch global interests flock to the former Soviet Union during the rush for Caspian oil and pipeline access, hear rumbles of the expansion of the American security state and the buildup to the War on Terror. We follow Bunny from adolescence to middle age—from Azerbaijan to America—as the entwined idols of capitalism and ambition lead her to a career in the oil industry, and eventually back to the scene of her youth, where familiar figures reappear in an era of political and climate breakdown.
Both geopolitical exploration and domestic coming-of-age novel, Mobility is a propulsive and challenging story about class, power, politics, and desire told through the life of one woman—her social milieu, her romances, her unarticulated wants. Mobility deftly explores American forms of complicity and inertia, moving between the local and the global, the personal and the political, and using fiction’s power to illuminate the way a life is shaped by its context.
And here’s the cover, designed by Evan Gaffney:
Gaffney tells Lit Hub:
Kiesling meticulously researched a number of secondary characters—journalists, consultants, activists—who speak the clear-eyed truth about the inner workings of the oil industry. I wanted the cover to suggest a news magazine, or a corporate annual report, interrupted only by the flow of oil from the lower right.
The maze of Baku—the city where the novel begins and ends—serves as a metaphor for the corporate and personal mazes that Bunny, the novel’s main character, had to navigate. This perspective of Baku is stacked from top to bottom, from present to past, like a cross section of earth waiting to be explored.
And author Lydia Kiesling says, “I love the composition of the cover and the image that Evan selected. Baku is a cradle of the global oil and gas industry and a city of central importance to the novel, a place where the protagonist lives as an American teenager in the 1990s and then returns to in 2019. The Flame Towers were completed in 2013 by the American architectural megafirm HOK, and now hold a dominant position in the Baku skyline. They are what the scholar Leyla Sayfutdinova calls “a shining symbol of Azerbaijan’s 21st century oil capitalism”–a monumental embodiment of the changes that have taken place in Azerbaijan since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A major theme in the novel is the way oil runs through public and private life in ways that are both subterranean and highly visible, and the cover captures this in a unique way.”
Mobility will be available on August 1, 2023. You can preorder it here.