Azalea “Knot” Centre, the heroine of De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s novel In West Mills, likes to read books, likes to drink, and likes to be alone. She does not lead a conventional or even especially eventful life, and this novel is like her in its refusal of the expected. It is a portrait of endurance and time passing and community. And it is also a portrait of believable lifelong love and friendly devotion from a man named Otis Lee that asks for nothing in return. Knot leaves a mark on the memory of everyone who knew her, and she will do the same for everyone who reads about her.

In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Winslow. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing. The editor is Liese Mayer. In West Mills is a finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction; the winner will be announced on April 30.