Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (April 2011)
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.
When Teacher awakens early from Dreamtime, it means the ship, or the mission, is jeopardized. Only a handful of crewmembers have survived, and like in a video game, they die over and over again, trying to reach the central core of the ship in order to save it. Techies will be drawn in by the description of the maze of corridors and tasks that must be learned in this quest for survival.
Londonï¿½s Daily Mail calls this novel ï¿½a warm-hearted tale of bad mannersï¿½ and its strength is the spot-on language and off-kilter relationships that Anglophiles adore in oddball British stories. The less important plot involves an older manï¿½s sudden obsession with what he sees as his eminent death and his attempt to get his family back together and make last amends. Of course, he isnï¿½t necessarily dying and itï¿½s a complicated situation, learning to be a family again.
Torn between his wife who needs him physically present to begin a family and a call from his estranged father, Noah returns to the rustic shore of Lake Superior to share his father, Olafï¿½s, last days. Consumed by guilt for being one of the few survivors of a shipwreck, Olaf finally shares the story with his son as one generation ends and another begins. A compelling and redeeming story of family dynamics fraught with years of misunderstandings.
When first published, this intelligent, tantalizing thriller by Japanï¿½s equivalent of James Patterson, won all of that countryï¿½s major mystery awards. The body of Yasuka Hanaokaï¿½s violent ex-husband has barely hit the floor when Ishigami, her lonely, besotted neighbor, calls to ask if she needs help disposing of the body. Ishigami has devised an elaborate alibi for Yasuka and her daughter that requires they follow his every instruction.
ï¿½I suppose there are some men who can slip through life without a single tragedy, but mostly we donï¿½t like to hear about them. We like our stories to be full of bad luck and undeserved misfortune, donï¿½t we?ï¿½ Although young Eddie Alley is inspired to have a career in television and escape to the bright lights of Manhattan, Appalachian roots draw Eddie and his daughter back home. Eerie local legends and a mother rumored to be a witch are things he canï¿½t leave behind.
Winston Churchill referred to his bouts with depression as the ï¿½black dog,ï¿½ and in Huntï¿½s debut novel the metaphorical animal has come to life. Black Pat, who walks on his hind legs, talks garrulously, and calls himself Chatwell after Churchillï¿½s estate, takes a room with the astonished widow Ester Hammerhans as he prepares to bedevil Churchill in the days leading up to statesmanï¿½s retirement.
This supernatural debut was on Booklistï¿½s Best Fiction titles of 2010, and their reviewer called it ï¿½one of the scariest novels of this or any other yearï¿½. Following a motorcycle accident, Nicholas Close starts to see dead people and to witness their last moments again and again. When Nicholas was young, his best friend went missing in the woods, and Nicholas realizes it should have been him. Fairy tale elements combine with realism to make this a creepy read.
A missing girl, 16-year-old Nora Lindell becomes an obsession among a group of boys, who rehash the facts and rumors of her disappearance, and keep the memory of her alive. Even twenty-five years later, as adults, Noraï¿½s fate lingers as they caution their daughters about going out at night. A fascinating debut, skillfully written from myriad viewpoints that exemplify why sometimes the journey is more important than reaching the end.
A great deal of praise has been heaped on this literary collection of melancholy short stories, and it would not be surprising to see its name on ï¿½best booksï¿½ lists at the end of the year. Tï¿½ibï¿½nï¿½s characters look back in fondness and regret at situations that were, or might have been. Toibinï¿½s skill at evoking the past reminds us that memory lives not only in the mind, but perhaps even more strongly in the heart.
The apparent double-suicide of his wife and the artist whose career he championed shocks art critic Daniel Lichtmann into investigating the pairï¿½s relationship. His search proves artist Benjamin Wind was not whom he seemed to be, and leads Lichtmann back to a young Jewish artist who illustrated marriage contracts and perished in the Holocaust. The hauntingly orchestrated pairing of stories queries the power of love and the relationships we form to possess it.
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