Booklists · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (March 2010)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
Caldwellï¿½s second novel begins where his first, Cataloochee, ended. Itï¿½s 1928, and the residents of this small North Carolina town have lost their fight. The area will be swallowed up in the creation of the Smoky Mountains National Park. Once again, Caldwell tells individual stories, as residents try to keep their family farms, or sell and acclimate to life elsewhere. Critically praised for the bookï¿½s authentic tone, these are the stories of local people whose essence is the very heart of the authorï¿½s soul.
In California, inside the Indian consulate, two employees and seven people seeking visas are present when a massive earthquake strikes. All nine are trapped in the rubble; it becomes a matter of waiting. Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, college student Uma suggests that everyone tell a story about himself or herself, demonstrating the ï¿½one amazing thingï¿½ theyï¿½ve never told anyone. Thus the short stories held together in a novel begin, and the lyrical narration of author Divakaruni flows like honey.
The irreverent, illegal, and insanely hilarious duo of Serge and Coleman take another road trip, this time to Panama City, where Serge plans to film a documentary about college students on spring break. When drug dealers and federal agents zero in on a seemingly innocent undergrad, Serge and Coleman feel compelled to intervene. Florida trivia, miscreant behavior, justice run amuck, and endless sunshine and sand concoct a perfect appetizer for readers with an off-the-wall sense of humor.
The late Dominic Dunne flings his final, thinly veiled zings at New York society, which both adored and despised him. Journalist Gus Bailey, from People Like Us, writes a regular column, while penning a thinly-veiled novel about the possible involvement of a fabulously rich woman in the mysterious death of her billionaire husband. As he hobnobs about town at all the best parties, Gus plays the role of compassionate confident, eagerly regurgitating juicy scoops in his articles, novels, and on his cable TV show. Love him, or hate him, no one can ignore him.
Rachel, like the author, is biracial ï¿½ brown-skinned and blue-eyed - the product of a Danish mother and an African-American GI father. Living in Europe, this never mattered. But in Chicago, itï¿½s different, and itï¿½s something that Rachelï¿½s mother canï¿½t understand. After a domestic tragedy delivers 11-year-old Rachel to the home of her paternal grandmother in a decidedly black neighborhood in Oregon, she finds that she has to choose ï¿½ black or white, no in between. ï¿½Winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice.ï¿½
The best-selling authors of prehistory explore the Age of Discovery, beginning a new series entitled, Contact: The Battle for America, a reminder that life was civilized in North America before European influence. This first entry takes place in Florida where Black Shell, a Chickasaw trader, is drawn to the de Soto party, until evidence of their cruelty and greed becomes apparent. For fans of American historicals, ï¿½nobody does Native Americans better than the Gears.ï¿½
Sports in China are in full swing, as the Beijing Olympics near. But strange accidents, and a suicide, have befallen the nation's athletes. For Li Yan, the head of the serious crimes squad, too many dead people is no accident. He calls on his fiance, Margaret Campbell, to perform autopsies and learns that a missing track athlete may have key information. Fans of contemporary mysteries set in foreign locales, who have not yet discovered the outstanding ï¿½China Thrillerï¿½ series, might want to begin with the debut title, The Firemaker.
In the mid-1850s, just outside Xenia, Ohio, a unique resort existed for Southern men to vacation with their slave mistresses. This debut novel imagines the lives of four women, three who meet there every summer, and the newcomer in their midst. In Ohio, the women witness free blacks working in the hotel, abolitionists eager to help them, and even a nearby resort catering to the black population. Each woman has a reason maintain the status quo, but at least one is willing to risk it all for freedom, in fascinating tale set practically in Cincinnatiï¿½s backyard.
When her former lover, David Eyam, a confidante of the British Prime Minister, is suddenly killed, Kate Lockhart is stunned to find that she's the beneficiary of his estate. But it's about more than property. David trusted her to follow his clues about DEEP TRUST, a plot that threatens the privacy of British citizens. The government's terrorist surveillance and data-collecting supercomputers are being turned inward to infiltrate every aspect of their lives. Porter's updated version of Orwellï¿½s 1984 has been praised as ï¿½gripping and chillingly realistic.ï¿½
When young Paha Sapa "counts coup" with a dying soldier, General Custer, at Little Big Horn, their spirits are united. Paha Sapa has the ability to see both future and past when he touches people, and this saga of his nearly eighty years tells the history of the Great Plains and its many legendary figures. When the Mount Rushmore project begins, it's a defilement of the sacred landscape that Paha Sapa has long foreseen. He signs on to the explosives crew intending sabotage. Suspense is a certainty with Simmons as the author, whether heï¿½s writing horror, fantasy, or something altogether different.
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