A Strangeness in My Mind
by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Ekin Oklap
The latest novel from Nobel laureate Pamuk (My Name is Red,2001; Snow, 2004) offers the tale of Mevlut, a young man who leaves his small village for Istanbul, where he spends many years walking the streets of the city as a door-to-door vendor. He is tricked into marrying the sister of the girl he pines for, an act of treachery that reverberates throughout the novel. He nonetheless embraces his fate and happily pursues a living for his family as the decades unfold and the city drastically changes around them. Kirkus calls it “Rich, complex, and pulsing with urban life: one of this gifted writer's best.”
Death by Water
by Kenzaburo Oe, translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm
Another Nobel Prize winner, Oe returns to his recurring autobiographical character Kogito Choko (The Changeling, 2010). Choko struggles with a failure to understand and novelize his father’s death which happened decades earlier during World War II. His frustrations lead to an intense dispute with his mentally-ill adult son. Things turn around for Choko when he pursues a partnership with an experimental theater troupe. Kirkus calls it a “pensive novel, at once autobiographical and philosophical… provocative, doubtful without being cynical, elegant without being precious” and Booklist calls it “enchanting.”
The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories
by Anthony Marra
Award winning Oakland author Marra follows his debut, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013) with a story collection set in the Soviet Union and Russia spanning a century. In one story, a Soviet censor tasked with erasing shunned and executed individuals from photos and paintings inserts images of his disappeared brother—just one example of storytelling that Kirkus calls “powerful and melancholy” and Publishers Weekly calls “uniquely funny, tragic, bizarre, and memorable”. You can read an excerpt here.
Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories
by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Cambell, a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for her 2009 story collection American Salvage, once again focuses her keen and compassionate eye on the lives of working-class women. Booklist calls these stories “commanding, piquant, and reverberating,” saying “In each subsequent, visceral, surprising, pitch-perfect tale, Campbell strides further into the swamp of sexual conflicts and trauma, from routine contempt to rape, telling tales not of good and evil, but rather of soul-wringing emotional complexity and epic grit.” Campbell is also the author of novel Once Upon a River (2011).
City on Fire
by Garth Risk Hallberg
Gritty New York City in the days leading up to the July 13, 1977 blackout is the setting for this debut novel in which the disparate lives of musicians, journalists, punks and the rich and powerful intersect in stunning and surprising ways. Publishers Weekly calls it “maniacally detailed, exhaustingly clever… packed with urban angst, intellectual energy, and sinister pitfalls.” Booklist raves, “This magnificent first novel is full to bursting with plot, character, and emotion” and calls it a “completely engrossing novel.”
by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
On the brink of the 2008 presidential election, syndicated African-American columnist Malcolm Toussaint writes an explosive piece in response to a recent police killing of an unarmed black man, but his white editor Bob Carson refuses to print it. Toussaint uses Carson’s computer password to publish it anyway, and both journalists lose their jobs. Then Toussaint is kidnapped by white supremacists intent on terrorizing the Obama victory celebration. Publishers Weekly calls Grant Park a “high-stakes, hard-charging political thriller” with “sharply etched characters, careful attention to detail, and rich newspaper lore” and Library Journal calls it “darkly humorous and deeply engaging.” Pitts is a Pulitzer-Prizewinning journalist and the author of Before I Forget (2009) and Freeman (2012).
The Secret Chord
by Geraldine Brooks
Brooks is a Pulitzer Prizewinning novelist (for March, 2005) with a devoted readership. Her newest novel takes a look at the life of the biblical King David—a complex and often bloody story that takes David from shepherd to king during the second Iron Age in Israel. Booklist says “the novel feels simultaneously ancient, accessible, and timeless” and Publishers Weekly calls it an “ambitious and psychologically astute novel” in which Brooks “evokes time and place with keenly drawn detail… with the verve of an adroit storyteller.” Brooks is also the author of novels Year of Wonders (2001), People of the Book (2008), and Caleb's Crossing (2011).
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories
Edited by Audrey Niffenegger
If the longer nights of the looming season have you craving darker fare, this collection of stories may suit you. Stories of ghosts and hauntings by both classic and contemporary authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link and A.S. Byatt “do an excellent job of evoking that crucial frisson of dread” (Publishers Weekly).
by Lalo Eduardo, translated by David Frye
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, an unhappy professor falls in love with a mysterious stalker who leaves him a trail of notes signed Simone. His admirer turns out to be a lesbian immigrant from China named Li with a tragic past—and he pursues a doomed love affair. Kirkus says, “It's a bleak but emotionally resonant work that finds weighty things to say about writing, culture, Puerto Rican identity, and the dangers of projecting one's desire upon another.” Simone won the prestigious 2013 Rómulo Gallegos prize and is the first of Eduardo’s works to be translated into English.
by Emily Holleman
This intriguing and intricately detailed novel sheds light on a lesser-known chapter in ancient Hellenistic Egypt by telling the stories of Cleopatra’s sisters, Berenice and Arsinoe. At 21, eldest sister Berenice seizes the throne in a coup against her father, the pharaoh Ptolemy. Ptolemy, Cleopatra and others flee to Rome to rally support for their side, leaving eight-year-old Arsinoe behind. First time novelist Holleman effectively brings this dramatic and often bloody story to life by alternating the viewpoints of Berenice and Arsinoe. “Holleman's imaginative, textured portraits of the lives and ambitions of these little-known heroines will appeal to readers of historical and literary fiction alike” (Publishers Weekly).
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