Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (July 2013)
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.
Immigrant stories have become popular lately, but Adichie really sets hers apart from the rest of the crowd by not only following her heroine, Ifemelu, to the US on a college scholarship but continuing with her decision to return to Nigeria. Blogger Ifemelu is out of place in Princeton, an African but not an African-American, although a return to Lagos and her childhood sweetheart prove that time and distance have turned her into more of a foreigner than she suspects. A passionate commentary on today’s global society.
Canadian police detective Mike Ellis is vacationing in Cuba when he is arrested for murdering a young boy. His case is the beginning of a new police series featuring the unique Inspector Ricardo Rameriz who is followed around by spectres of unsolved murders. Talk about incentive for closing a case! As Rameriz waits for the boy to show up and offer some guidance, the Cuban authorities only have 72 hours to book or release Ellis. Blair writes so convincingly about Havana that the city becomes one of the stars of the story.
In a world reminiscent of a Neil Gaiman novel, there is a thin veil between the human world and the Limestone Kingdom which occasionally gets torn open. Two young boys make the journey to the other side and back to grow up with disparate memories. Baby Ewan was stolen, replaced with a changling who drives his mother to suicide. While all seems fairytale wonderful, Ewan is being transformed into a full-fledged fairy to be offered up as a sacrifice. When a djinn grants young Colby’s wish to see “everything supernatural”, Ewan has a protector.
Thirty-six year-old Daniel Ford is on Death Row, convicted of murdering his best friend. Daniel and Nathan have been best friends since they were six, an unusual pairing for a white boy and a black boy in North Carolina in 1952. But the story that Ellory tells is not just a story about race. It’s a story of the 1960s and 70s culture – civil rights, the Vietnam War, the drug scene, and fear of the draft. The story is a very personal account of Daniel’s final days in prison while he remembers the reason he and Nathan were friends despite overwhelming reasons not to be.
It’s a summer ritual – the Porter family’s residence at Ashaunt Point – but 1942 changes everything. Although the family goes as usual, the war means that their enlisted son is not there and an army base built on the shore changes the freedom of the past. Later, when daughter Helen is grown and has a family of her own, both she and her son, Charlie, try to recapture the spirit of refuge and comfort that Helen felt as a child. While the environmentally-challenged land retains the peace they crave, the family members may not still have the ability to tap into it.
One of the most sympathetic villains in American history is Typhoid Mary. She never suffered from the disease she transmitted through the food she prepared, but her years spent in isolation and the edict never to cook again were a terrible plague on this capable and proud woman. Author Keane wants us to know her, the boredom and despair during those years of quarantine, and how the legal and scientific community handled a fear-fraught, yet misunderstood disease and possibly wronged the woman held responsible for the epidemic.
McCann’s last novel, Let the Great World Spin, won both the National Book Award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award so his newest is certainly anticipated as this summer’s literary title. McCann weaves together a “tangled skein of connections” when three historical events involve a crossing from America to Ireland, following the path of the first transatlantic flight. Irish women connect the 150+ plus years that pass and pull the plot together by the end. McCann is scheduled for talks at the Mercantile Library and UC in mid-September.
Vampires and zombies have run amok lately, but if Percy has his way werewolves, or lycans as he refers to them in this novel, will be the new literary fad. In an alternate present day America, lycans and humans live in an uneasy coexistence until a lycan terrorist group carries out simultaneous attacks on airplanes. Political commentary underlies a story about two teenagers – one a human and one a lycan - and how their lives change in view of this new threat and their parents’ roles in it. No note of a sequel, but the ending certainly leaves room for more.
The cover and title character of this book is the immigrant farm worker in the famous photograph taken by Dorothy Lange. Although the actual names are known, Silver prefers to tell her own tale by giving the mother the role of Mary Coin and renaming the photographer, Vera Dare. It is a tale of the Depression and how each of the women comes to be in the circumstances that ultimately bring them together. Sharing the story is a modern-day professor who chances upon information about the photograph which impacts his life.
Wascom’s historical debut encompasses a frontier tale that is violent, rough, and raw. The hardscrabble and savage life is personified by Angel Woolsack, son of a traveling preacher who might talk the Word but certainly didn’t live it. Angel runs away to create a family among like-minded souls, men defending their land and their possessions in the west Florida territory while deciding how they feel about the new America that is being formed. Blatant, raw descriptions of life circumstances and attitudes can be disturbing, but the story is intense and fresh.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!