10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in January 2017

Happy new year! We're starting off 2017 with 10 great books arriving this month.

Lucky Boy
by Shanthi Sekaran
Soli is an undocumented woman from Oaxaca who finds a new home for herself and her baby son Ignacio in Berkeley. Kavya, an Indian-American chef married to a techie, is desperate to adopt a child after a long struggle with infertility. When Soli is arrested, Kavya and her husband become foster parents to Ignacio, launching a struggle for his custody. “Sekaran is a master of drawing detailed, richly layered characters and relationships; here are the subtly nuanced lines of love and expectation between parents and children; here, too are moments of great depth and insight. A superbly crafted and engrossing novel.” (Kirkus Reviews)  You can meet local author Shanthi Sekaran (The Prayer Room, 2008) at an author event at the Main Library on February 26

Difficult Women
by Roxane Gay
If powerhouse author, essayist and famously Bad Feminist Roxane Gay was to offer a collection of stories, you’d want it to be all about difficult women, right?  “Whether focusing on assault survivors, single mothers, or women who drown their guilt in wine and bad boyfriends, Gay's fantastic collection is challenging, quirky, and memorable.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Animators
by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Sharon is lovelorn, introverted and straight; Mel is a fearless, lively and out lesbian. As artists and misfits at their East Coast liberal college, they find a deep connection which forms the basis for a longtime friendship and artistic collaboration as cartoonists and animators. Their work attracts a small but devoted audience until a project based on Mel’s childhood thrusts them into the limelight and everything starts to fall apart. “In this fine first novel, Whitaker captures the human frailties that beset everyone—jealousy, anger, insecurity, trauma, the search for love—and weaves them into a compelling story of friendship, self-destruction, and salvation.” (Library Journal) “Unexpected and nuanced and pulsing with life.” (Kirkus)

Human Acts
by Han Kang
Han Kang made her U.S. debut last year with The Vegetarian, which won the Man Booker International Prize and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and Publishers Weekly. Her latest novel to be translated into English takes a moving and brutally horrific look at the South Korea's 1980 Gwangju Uprising, in which hundreds of people were killed. 15-year-old Dong-ho searches for the corpse of his friend, but soon joins the victims of the violence. His story reverberates through linked narratives as other characters recount their experiences of the chaos. “Han explores the sprawling trauma of political brutality with impressive nuance and the piercing emotional truth that comes with masterful fiction… A fiercely written, deeply upsetting, and beautifully human novel.” (Kirkus)

Selection Day
by Aravind Adiga
In a present-day Mumbai slum, teenage Manju and his brother Radha are talented cricket players. Their father is obsessed with their futures in cricket, seeing it as their ticket out of poverty and driving the boys crazy with his overbearing rules. As Manju comes of age, he wonders if he can veer away from his domineering father and if he’ll ever transcend his society’s rigid caste system. “Mr. Adiga’s third novel, supplies further proof that his Booker Prize, won for The White Tiger in 2008, was no fluke. He is not merely a confident storyteller but also a thinker, a skeptic, a wily entertainer, a thorn in the side of orthodoxy and cant.” (New York Times)

Foreign Soil: And Other Stories
by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Clarke is an Australian writer and slam poetry champion of Afro-Caribbean descent who won a handful of awards in her home country for this debut story collection. Her stories crisscross the globe, from Australia to Africa to Europe to the West Indies to the U.S., and touch on issues of class, race, gender and privilege. “Clarke fully inhabits the voices of her characters—a masterful feat given their wide range of age, gender, race, country of origin, and country of residence… A tremendous new voice; a writer of immense talent and depth.” (Kirkus)

This Is How It Always Is
by Laurie Frankel
Penn, a novelist, and Laurie, a doctor, are the parents of five boys in Madison, Wisconsin. At age 3, their youngest, Claude, announces that when he grows up, he wants to be a girl. So begins their journey into new gender territory, including therapy, a move to Seattle, and lots of challenging decisions. “…Sharp and surprising. This is a wonderfully contradictory story—heartwarming and generous, yet written with a wry sensibility.” (Publishers Weekly) Frankel’s newest novel (after Goodbye For Now, 2012) was inspired by her own experience as a mom to a transgender child.

Perfect Little World
by Kevin Wilson
Izzy Poole is a pregnant teen and future single mother experiencing unusually dire circumstances when she decides to join nine other couples for the Infinite Family Project. This ten-year experiment, led by unconventional child therapist Dr. Preston Grind, proposes that the parents will raise their children in a shared community in the Tennessee woods, to see what happens when children are reared collectively without even knowing who their biological parents are. “It takes a village, or in this case a well-meaning, utopian parenting study, to create the ingredients for this almost farcical yet moving novel about love, parenting, and the families we create for ourselves.” (Library Journal) Wilson also explored unconventional family life in his terrific debut novel, The Family Fang (2011).

Enigma Variations
by André Aciman
As a teen vacationing on a small island off the coast of Italy, Paul harbored a secret, life-altering crush on the local cabinetmaker. The novel chronicles his life, relationships and passionate encounters with men and women in an exploration of love, desire, and regret. “Aciman's sensuous, subtle language supports not only his marvelous descriptive power but also how deeply and resonantly he constructs his fondly and fully conceived characters.” (Booklist) Aciman is also the author of Call Me By Your Name (2007) and Harvard Square (2013).

Idaho
by Emily Ruskovich
Eighteen years ago, Ann was the music teacher for two young girls. The younger girl was killed, the elder disappeared, and their mother ended up serving a life sentence for murder. Improbably, Ann married their grieving father, Wade. As Wade slips into early-onset Alzheimer’s, Ann cares for him and tries to piece together exactly what happened to those girls, all the while hoping that the oldest daughter, Jenny, is still out there. “Ruskovich's debut opens to the strains of a literary thriller but transforms into a lyrical meditation on memory, loss, and grief in the American West… filled to the brim with dazzling language, mystery, and a profound belief in the human capacity to love and seek forgiveness.” (Kirkus)

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