Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return by Martin Riker

Martin Riker’s debut novel Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return (Coffee House Press, 2018) is a masterclass in writing compelling, well-crafted fiction. Riker’s precise and careful execution of a number of ambitious craft elements—including a structure inspired by a 19th-century novel (Robert Montgomery Bird’s Sheppard Lee, Written by Himself) and the main character inhabiting different bodies that all have distinctly written voices—is impressive. And as he pulls off feats of point of view and voice throughout this body-hopping journey, Riker never wavers from the emotionally affective core of the story: a man trying to get home to his son to say he loves him. —Carolina VonKampen