by Jocelyn McClurg)
Bloomsbury, 230 pp.
What it's about: Debut novel about the wives of Manhattan Project scientists in 1940s Los Alamos, who were kept in the dark about their husbands' work on the atomic bomb.
Why it's notable: It's a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and an Indie Next pick of independent booksellers.
A taste: "Our husbands were handsome, but their handsomeness was of a different nature now: they had a secret they would not confess."
Quick bio: Nesbit, 32, grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and received an M.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in Boulder, Colo., and is pursuing a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Denver. Her husband is a scientist.
On the spate of novels about wives of prominent men: "It's curious and interesting and fabulous, all at the same time. There is this desire to hear from unheard voices, an urgency to look at what's seemingly commonplace."
On writing in the collective "we" voice: "I really wanted to show the way that we are always part of groups, of a collective identity, and that we're always individuals within that — and the conflicts that can occur, particularly in a small, condensed environment like this town surrounded by barbed wire."
Her research: "I listened to oral histories and read memoirs of women at Los Alamos. I went to Los Alamos a couple different times and looked through archives and at old photographs."
The secrecy of the Manhattan Project: "One of the things that really interested me in thinking about these women is, what does anyone support without their knowledge, and what do we do when we finally have that knowledge? For them they were supporting their husbands, and the bomb."
Why she chose fiction over non-fiction: "People don't want to tell their secrets. There were hints of things (in the oral histories), but I knew I needed to go into fiction in order to create the experience."
Up next: A novel about a varied group — from fur trappers to children to dogs — making a 17th-century transatlantic crossing by boat from Europe to America.