Marisa Silver Books In Order


  1. No Direction Home (2005)
  2. The God of War (2008)
  3. Mary Coin (2013)
  4. Little Nothing (2016)
  5. The Mysteries (2021)


  1. Babe in Paradise (2001)
  2. Alone with You (2010)

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Marisa Silver Books Overview

No Direction Home

A tensely emotional debut novel of abandonment, loss, and the unexpected shapes families take to survive. ‘Silver is masterful at orchestrating her complicated cast of characters and settings . Moving and resonant.’ Los Angeles Times Book Review ‘Blindness will be like this.’ So says ten year old Will Burton, trying to reimagine his life in the wake of his father’s abrupt disappearance, as his family picks up stakes and moves to California. Another boy, Rogelio Augilar, risks his life to cross the border illegally from Mexico to reach his father, enduring gangs, police roundups, and the pitiless desert. And Marlene McClure, a hard edged, feisty teenager, leaves her own Midwestern home in search of a father she has imagined but never known. The lives of each of these families converge on a single home in Los Angeles where the very needs and desires that have torn them apart allow them a measure of hope together. Written with heart stopping grace and a powerful understanding of the needs and desires that define family, No Direction Home masterfully evokes how far we will go in the name of a place to call home. Reading group guide included.

The God of War

The year is 1978. Ares Ramirez, age 12, lives with his mother, Laurel, and his younger brother Malcolm in a trailer at the edge of the Salton Sea, an unintentionally man made body of water in the middle of the Southern California desert. It is a desolate, forgotten place, whose inhabitants thrive amidst seemingly impossible circumstances.

Where birds fly by day across the desert sky, by night government fighter planes and helicopters make training runs using live ammunition, and an anonymous dead body floats in from the sea. These events inspire Ares, on the cusp of his adolescence, to enact elaborate fantasies of mortal combat. His membership in a troubled family marks Ares as a casualty of a different kind of war. Malcolm, age 7, is mentally handicapped, and his mother chooses not to do anything about it.

Ares’ struggle with the burden of responsibility to himself and to others draws him into a world of drugs, violence, and sex that he is not prepared for, launching him into a very personal battle for his own identity, one that has a lethal outcome.

Babe in Paradise

Set in contemporary Los Angeles, this mature debut shines an unexpected light on this most duplicitous of cities. Although all the characters in Babe in Paradise live in Los Angeles, none of them partake of the glamour and success that mark the city. Marisa Silver’s characters a community college teacher, an equipment rental store manager, a limousine driver, and a struggling actress among them live on the periphery of the city’s allure. Babe of the title story must confront the complete dissolution of her past when a fire threatens to engulf the hillside house she and her mother share. A car jacking forces the young husband and wife of ‘What I Saw from Where I Stood’ to confront the loss of a child and the way in which this loss has reshaped their marriage. The unforgettable characters in Babe in Paradise dwell in the Los Angeles of seismic geological change, of racial unease, of parched desert landscapes littered with the detritus of urban ambition. Silver has a genius for making us care deeply about her characters, their everyday desperations and hard won hopes.

Alone with You

Marisa Silver dazzled and inspired readers with her critically acclaimed The God of War a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, praised by Richard Russo as ‘a novel of great metaphorical depth and beauty.’ In this elegant, finely wrought new collection, Alone with You, Silver has created eight indelible stories that mine the complexities of modern relationships and the unexpected ways love manifests itself. Her brilliantly etched characters confront life’s abrupt and unsettling changes with fear, courage, humor, and overwhelming grace.

In the O. Henry Prize-winning story ‘The Visitor,’ a VA hospital nurse’s aide contends with a family ghost and discovers the ways in which her own past haunts her. The reticent father in ‘Pond’ is confronted with a Solomonic choice that pits his love for his daughter against his feelings for her young son. In ‘Night Train to Frankfurt,’ first published in The New Yorker, a daughter travels to an alternative-medicine clinic in Germany in a gambit to save her mother’s life. And in the title story, a woman vacations in Morocco with her family while contemplating a decision that will both ruin and liberate them all.

From ‘Temporary,’ where a young woman confronts the ephemeral nature of companionship, to ‘Three Girls,’ in which sisters trapped in a snowstorm recognize the boundaries of childhood, the nuanced voices of Alone with You bear the hallmarks of an instant classic from a writer with unerring talent and imaginative resource. Silver has the extraordinary ability to render her fictional inhabitants instantly relatable, in all their imperfections. Her stories have the singular quality of looking in a mirror. We see at once what is familiar and what is strange. In these stirring narratives, we meet ourselves anew.

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