10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in March 2018

Here are ten of the many great books headed to the library this month.

The Sparsholt Affair
by Alan Hollinghurst
Beginning in 1940s England, this novel traces the lives of a family in the midst of a changing society, beginning with David Sparsholt, an engineering student at Oxford who has a fling with the son of a famous author before he heads off to war, and continuing with his son Johnny, an artist and openly gay man thriving in 1970s London. “Superlatives are made to describe this extraordinary work of fiction; characterization, style, mood, tone, setting—all are equally distinguished. Hollinghurst is especially good at evoking yearning, and, indeed, his novel will inarguably leave his readers yearning for more.” (Booklist) Hollinghurst’s previous novels include The Swimming Pool Library (1988, Somerset Maugham Award), The Folding Star (1994, James Tait Black Memorial Prize) and The Line of Beauty (2004, Booker Prize).

Speak No Evil
by Uzodinma Iweala
Niru is a Harvard-bound student and star athlete at a prestigious high school in Washington DC. When his parents discover gay dating apps on his phone, they respond with explosive anger, and his father decides to take him to their native Nigeria to seek a spiritual “cure”. “Throughout a narrative spiraling toward tragedy, Niru's pain is so palpable it will make you gasp… Highly recommended.” (Library Journal) Following his multi-award-winning debut novel Beasts of No Nation (2005), Iweala received a Granta Best of Young American Novelists award and the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award.

The House of Broken Angels
by Luis Alberto Urrea
70-year-old patriarch Miguel Angel de la Cruz, or Big Angel, has just buried his mother and is about to celebrate his last birthday. He’s dying of cancer, and he takes this occasion to tell his story in a celebration of life, death and his wonderfully big family that spans both sides of the border. “A family saga that asks what it means to be American… a novel that is knowing and intimate, funny and tragic at once… Even in death, Urrea shows, we never lose our connection to one another, which is the point of this deft and moving book.” (Kirkus) Urrea is an American Book Award winner, New York Times Notable Book honoree, and Pulitzer Prize finalist best known for his novel The Hummingbird's Daughter (2005) and the nonfiction book The Devil’s Highway (2004).

Happiness
by Aminatta Forna
Attila Asare, a prominent Ghanaian psychiatrist specializing in PTSD, is in London for a conference when he literally bumps into American biologist Jean Turane. Repeat chance meetings lead Jean to help Attila with the other reason for his visit: to search for the missing child of a friend who may have been swept up in an immigration raid. “Forna's sensitive novel is nonostentatious yet compelling, and whether writing of Attila's victims of conflict and terror or Jean's birds and mammals, she offers wisdom and perspective, which is further extended to the possibility of romance between two questing strangers. Low-key yet piercingly empathetic, Forna's latest explores instinct, resilience, and the complexity of human coexistence, reaffirming her reputation for exceptional ability and perspective.” (Kirkus) Forna is a multi-award winning author from Scotland and Sierra Leone whose works include The Memory of Love (2011) which won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book Award and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction.

American Histories: Stories
by John Edgar Wideman
Recognized as a MacArthur Fellow, two-time PEN/Faulkner Award winner, and two-time finalist for the National Book Award, a literary legend returns with a short story collection. “The author returns to the streets of Pittsburgh and his childhood memories, envisions a conversation between John Brown and Frederick Douglass, and probes the popular culture we use to escape, forget, and grieve... Wideman elucidates loneliness and helplessness with lyrical economy and rhythmic sadness... A deeply personal collection of stories illuminating the thinning and cyclical threads of history that both sustain us and tear us apart. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal)

Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao
In 21st century South India, 16-year-old Poornima’s father hires 17-year-old Savitha to help her weave saris, launching a deep and lasting friendship between the two women. But when a tragic event splits them apart, they will face cruelty, poverty and exploitation before they are reunited halfway around the world. “This powerful, heart-wrenching novel and its two unforgettable heroines offer an extraordinary example of the strength that can be summoned in even the most terrible situations… Despite everything they go through, their spirits continue to burn brightly, building to an ending that takes your breath away in its magnificence and beauty.” (Booklist) Rao is an Indian-born writer who lives in San Francisco,  winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, and author of the short story collection An Unrestored Woman (2016).

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
by Mallory Ortberg
Dark, satirical, and gender-bending retellings of folk tales and fairy tales from the co-creator of the late great website The Toast and author of Texts from Jane Eyre (2014). “Delightfully disturbing… There is plenty of humor to be had here, with Ortberg's signature biting wit and nerdy whimsy out in full force… Ortberg doesn't twist the stories so much as illuminate how layered and complicated they really are. A wholly satisfying blend of silliness, feminist critique, and deft prose makes this a collection of bedtime stories that will keep you up at night for all the right reasons.” (Kirkus)

Stray City
by Chelsey Johnson
When Andy’s small-town, Midwestern parents find out she has a girlfriend, they stop financing her education at Reed College. She drops out but finds a nurturing and stimulating community in Portland’s queer underground scene. Following a series of romantic disappointments, she has a fling with a man that results in a pregnancy and an unexpected, unconventional family. “This is a coming-out and coming-of-age story; a surprise-I’m-pregnant story; a will-they-or-won’t-they love story; and an ode to a time and place we think we’ve heard everything about—and it’s all utterly fresh. Portraying Portland and Andy’s chosen family with feeling and immense charm, Johnson paints Andy’s love—for her kid, her city, herself, and others—in all its thorny nuance and surprising glory.” (Booklist)

The Parking Lot Attendant
by Nafkote Tamirat
A fifteen-year-old and her father, an Ethiopian immigrant, are living on a mysterious island commune. But their story begins in Boston, where the young girl falls under the spell of Ayale, a parking lot attendant, leader in the Ethiopian community, and shady businessman—and soon she becomes entangled in his schemes. “Tamirat’s wonderful debut novel weaves growing pains, immigrant troubles, and moments of biting humor… The unsettling conclusion serves as a perfect ending for this riveting coming-of-age story full of murky motives, deep emotion, and memorable characters.” (Publishers Weekly)

My Old Faithful
by Yang Huang
Oakland author Yang Huang (Living Treasures, 2014) won the Juniper Prize for Fiction for this collection of ten linked stories that depict the lives of one family over thirty years in China and the United States. One of the Juniper judges said of this book: “My Old Faithful establishes Yang Huang as one of our most provocative writers on contemporary China... Here you find a debut writer adept at sidestepping the timeworn: she gives us a story so real it bursts the bounds of the form, becoming an autofiction which, in its humanity, quickly becomes yours as well.”

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