The Year of the Runaways
by Sunjeev Sahota
Oakland readers have been clamoring for this book ever since it was shortlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize six months ago, and it will finally be released in the United States this month. The Year of the Runaways follows four Indian immigrants to England, their individual stories and their shared difficulties and setbacks. “Sahota's characters are drawn, and imbued with depth and feeling. Their struggles to survive will remain vividly imprinted on the reader's mind” (Publishers Weekly). Besides the Booker recognition, Sahota was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists in 2013.
An Unrestored Woman
by Shobha Rao
India-born, San Francisco-based author Rao debuts with a collection of stories set during the chaotic time of the partition between India and Pakistan and the ensuing mass migration of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Six pairs of linked stories examine the resilience of women and the toll their choices make on them while they also struggle under circumstances totally beyond their control. Kirkus Reviews calls it “Stunning and relentless,” and Booklist says, “Exquisite turns of phrase and editing with a fine-edged scalpel only add to an outstanding and memorable debut.”
A Life Apart
by Neel Mukherjee
In a short span of time, Ritwik Ghosh, 22, loses his parents and leaves Calcutta for England on a two-year student visa. Although England is an inhospitable place, he stays on after his visa runs out, joining the underground illegal economy. He finds brief moments of release though risky trysts with strange men and by writing a historical novel about an Englishwoman living in early 20th century India. “Mukherjee's tale is deeply layered, offering a rich exploration into the ambiguity of belonging” (Booklist). Mukherjee’s novel The Lives of Others was shortlisted for the 2014 Booker Prize and the Costa Award.
Innocents and Others
by Dana Spiotta
Childhood friends Meadow and Carrie both grew up to be filmmakers. Avant-garde loner Meadow makes arthouse documentaries and Carrie directs covertly feminist commercial comedy films with and is also a wife and mother. Their paths converge with Jelly, a woman who has managed to become the confidante of many Hollywood power players though they know her only by phone conversations. Booklist says Spiotta “brings to new levels of feverish intensity her signature dissection of obsession, the trends and ironies of the zeitgeist, how we document our lives, and the consequences of resistance to social imperatives in this ensnaring, sly, and fiercely intelligent novel.” Spiotta was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for Stone Arabia (2011) and a National Book Award finalist for Eat the Document (2006).
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
by Helen Oyeyemi
Oyeyemi’s first collection of short stories is set in present day Europe with a surreal, fairy tale edge. Publishers Weekly promises, “Readers will be drawn to Oyeyemi's contagious enthusiasm for her characters and deep sympathy for their unrequited or thwarted loves.” Oyeyemi is one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists and was a 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist for Boy, Snow, Bird.
We Love You, Charlie Freeman
by Kaitlyn Greenidge
The Freemans leave their home in Boston's South Side when hired by a private research institute to “adopt” a chimpanzee and teach him sign language. As they find themselves isolated as the only African American family in the community, they uncover the brutal history of the Toneybee Institute, and its legacy of racist and misogynist research. Kirkus calls Greenridge “a master of dialogue, which helps her craft engaging, well-drawn characters,” and Publishers Weekly calls her debut “deftly constructed, encompassing weighty issues such as race, language, sexuality, and the intersections of religion and science, arriving finally at a heartbreaking confrontation. The end result is a sobering look at how we communicate with one another and what inevitably gets lost in translation.”
by Jung Yun
South Korea-born and North Dakota-bred professor Kyung Cho is struggling under the pressure of job and family strain, financial difficulties and the consequences of the domestic abuse he experienced as a child. When his parents become victims of a shocking crime, Kyung must face the violent conflicts of his past and present. Booklist calls this intense debut “A work of relentless psychological sleuthing and sensitive insight.” Kirkus calls it “fluidly written… layered, sometimes surprising… a sophisticated story that maintains its narrative momentum right to the end.”
The Summer Before the War
by Helen Simonson
Summertime, 1914: as World War I looms, spinsterish Beatrice Nash has just lost her father and moves to a small village in East Sussex to teach Latin at the local school. What starts as a comedy of manners with romance, snobbery and sexism veers into wartime tragedy. Booklist promises, “this novel is just the ticket for fans of Simonson's debut, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (2010), and for any reader who enjoys leisurely fiction steeped in the British past.”
by Saleem Haddad
Rasa is a young gay translator with an American education living in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. In the last 24 hours his grandmother has walked in on him in bed with his lover, and his best friend was arrested in a gay movie theater. At least there’s Guapa, the underground bar where he can be himself. “Haddad presents a striking look at gay life, the psychological cost of conformity, and what it means to be true to yourself from a Middle Eastern perspective” (Booklist).
by Cynthia D'aprix Sweeney
The Plumb siblings, four middle aged middle-class New Yorkers, have been financially irresponsible while waiting to receive their trust fund. On the cusp of receiving their inheritance, they find that it’s largely been spent—bailing out brother Leo who caused a cocaine-fueled car accident while trying to romance a nineteen year old. Now Leo’s promising to fix everything. “Sweeney spins a fast-moving, often-humorous narrative, and her portrait of each sibling is compassionate even as she reveals their foibles with emotional clarity… Her writing is assured, energetic, and adroitly plotted, sweeping the reader along through an engrossing narrative that endears readers to the Plumb family for their essential humanity” (Publishers Weekly).
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