By Dana Schwartz
February 04, 2019 at 02:00 PM EST
Zack Smith;Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

There are a lot of good reasons to come down to New Orleans: the food, the music, the partying, the history. A lot lower on the list: the death of a loved one that no one really loves.

In Jami Attenberg’s seventh novel, All This Could Be Yours, shady New York wheeler-and-dealer Victor Tuchman is on his deathbed, and his adult daughter, Alex, is finally attempting to get the truth about her father’s past from her frigid mother, loyal to a fault.

“Essentially, I was just fascinated with how death impacts a family,” says Attenberg. “It’s not something I cared about much when I was a younger writer, but I’m really sliding into my mortality issues very nicely as time has gone on. Fits me like a damn glove. I was also interested in the idea of characters gathering around a dying family member they didn’t like very much – I mean, no one likes this guy. That’s just an instant stake to me, and a weirdly humorous one. I like my mortality issues with a side of comedy.”

Mr. Tuchman isn’t entirely dissimilar from Donald Trump — they’re both real estate developers with less than honest pasts and several sexual scandals. “It’s an extremely contemporary book, the present tense of it set very firmly in 2018,” says Attenberg. “Trump isn’t mentioned by name ever, but I suppose he sort of lives vaguely in the background, kind of like a tv that’s always running without the sound on. It’s just hard to write about right now, with the kind of writing I do, without considering him. But one of the threads through much of my work over the last fourteen years has been a dissection of how men treat women. So that topic is in a way not anything new for me, even if it has taken a new form, structure, characters, context, etc. These kinds of stories are eternal.”

The book’s cover features a mysterious, closed storage locker. “I loved this cover on impact, the bright color of it, the slight pause of identifying what it is, the slyness of it with that little lock in the corner. It sort of feels inherently ironic, but it’s also just enjoyable as a visual experience. And it’s that rare cover where somewhere in the reading of the book you’ll discover it has another meaning connected to the story, and I always love covers like that, the ones that reward you for showing up and paying attention.”

All This Could Be Yours will be released on Oct. 22.

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