10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in December 2016

If you're looking for new fiction, here are our ten picks for December.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? 
by Kathleen Collins
Three decades ago, accomplished filmmaker, playwright and activist Kathleen Collins died too young at age 46. She was one of the first African American women to direct a feature film, and she left behind an undiscovered collection of writing which is now being published for the first time. Her stories span the 60s, 70s and 80s and touch on issues of racism, intellectual life, sex and romance. “Collins’ prose is so precise and hypnotic that no amount of rereading it feels like enough. Astonishing and essential. A gem.” (Kirkus Reviews)

The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma
by Ratika Kapur
Renuka Sharma’s life straddles tradition and modern independence. She lives in Delhi, where she takes care of her son and her in-laws while her husband works in Dubai. She also has a part-time job in a doctor’s office, and begins an affair with a dashing man she meets at a metro station. Mrs. Sharma narrates with intimacy and humor as she tries to reconcile a self-image as a proper middle-class woman with her increasingly complex life. “A beautiful, tragic, and highly recommended work.” (Booklist)

Moshi-Moshi
by Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Asa Yoneda
Yocchan is trying to regroup after the notorious murder-suicide of her father and his lover. To cope with her grief, she moves to Tokyo’s hip Shimokitazawa neighborhood and finds a new job and new relationships. Her mother, haunted by her father’s ghost, insists on moving in with her. “As this ghost story becomes a love story, best-selling Japanese author Yoshimoto’s buoyant tone and pleasurable descriptions, translated from the Japanese by Asa Yoneda, usher in Yoshie’s return to life.” (BBC“Refreshingly realistic; a lovely work for most fiction readers.” (Library Journal) Prolific author Yoshimoto’s works in English include Kitchen (1993) and The Lake (2011).

The Boy Who Escaped Paradise
by J. M. Lee, translated by Chi-Young Kim
The murdered body of Steve Yoon, a North Korean defector and nuclear informant, has been found in Queens, NY. Gil-mo, a fellow North Korean defector and prison camp fugitive, is the prime suspect. But is Gil-mo really a ruthless gangster, or an autistic mathematical genius? “Lee creates a dignified and moving portrait of North Koreans’ struggle for freedom at home and abroad, and intertwines it with a rogue-genius adventure... Another outstanding thriller from Lee.” (Booklist)

Blood of the Dawn
by Claudia Salazar Jiménez, translated by Elizabeth Bryer
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) a Peruvian communist militant group born in the early eighties, is famous for its brutality. Their notorious 1983 massacre is the starting point for this novel that converges the lives of three women: a young photojournalist, a mother and farmer from a small village, and a teacher who abandons her life to join the guerillas. NPR calls Blood of the Dawn a “beautiful, horrifying work of art.”

Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days
by Jeanette Winterson
If you’re in a festive mood, reach for this seasonal collection by the acclaimed author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985) and Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011). The winner of multiple honors including the Whitbread and Stonewall awards has been writing a Christmas story every winter for years, and she’s chosen a dozen of her favorites here and paired them with recipes.  “Spooky, clever, funny, and poignant, Winterson’s supernatural tales refresh our appreciation of what it truly means to give, to love, and to share joy.” (Booklist)

The Ornatrix
by Howard, Kate
In 16th-century Italy, young Flavia suffers years of rejection from her family due to the bird-shaped birthmark on her face. Ultimately banished to a convent, she crosses paths with widowed courtesan Ghostanza, who hires her to be her hairdresser and makeup artist and draws her into a new, glamorous world. “Debut novelist Kate Howard demonstrates that unattainable beauty standards are hardly new. But Howard’s true genius lies in her skillful interweaving of themes of beauty, self-acceptance and artifice versus authenticity into an immersive story.” (Bookpage) This debut novel is already a bestseller in the UK.

The Moravian Night
by Peter Handke, translated by Krishna Winston
An award-winning Austrian author’s musings on 20th century Europe, memory and self-examination. A writer past the prime of his career gathers friends and colleagues to a party on a houseboat where he entertains until dawn with stories of his travels in the Balkans, Spain, Germany and Austria. “A searching exploration of how travel and storytelling can help us find our truest selves.” (Booklist) “Evoking the Thousand and One Nights, Cervantes, Machado, Borges… A sad story—perhaps, but one in which fantasy and history dance nimbly.” (Kirkus)

Chronicle of the Murdered House
by Lúcio Cardoso, translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson, introduction by Benjamin Moser
Lúcio Cardoso (1912 - 1968) was a Brazilian novelist, playwright, and poet. His most famous book, Chronicle of the Murdered House, a classic of Brazilian and Gay literature, is being published in English for the first time. It tells the scandalous story of the Meneses family, a once powerful family on the decline. As their formerly grand estate crumbles, three brothers and a sister-in-law jostle for control. Jealousy, mistrust and deceit abound while the family’s secrets are exposed through conflicting accounts, local gossip, a servant’s diary, and reports from the town physician, pharmacist and priest. “It’s a sensuous, bewitching tale, suspenseful to the last page.” (BBC)

Bad Boy
by Elliot Wake
Renard “Ren” Grant is a popular vlogger who has shared his deeply emotional gender transition with millions of followers on You Tube. He’s also a rape survivor and a member of Black Iris, a vigilante justice group that targets sexual predators. When Ren is wrongly been accused of rape, he doesn’t know where to turn. “This erotic and suspenseful tale offers illuminating—and often heartbreaking—insight into the psychology of its transgender protagonist and compels readers to question their conceptions about gender and desire.” (Publishers Weekly) Wake is the author of three previous novels and has documented his gender transition on social media.

 

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