Ten Great Reasons to Read Fiction in November


  • Oakland readers are lining up for bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver's newest novel, Flight Behavior. Following her 2009 Orange Prize-winning novel The Lacuna, Kingsolver “performs literary magic, generously illuminating both sides of the culture wars, from the global-warming debate to public education in America” (Library Journal). Read or listen to a preview of Flight Behavior here.

  • The holds list is also mounting for Ian McEwan’s latest, Sweet Tooth. The author of acclaimed novels such as Atonement (2002) has received numerous awards, including the six nominations for the Booker Prize, which he won in 1998 for Amsterdam. Sweet Tooth has been described as “multilayered and labyrinthine” and “masterful” by Kirkus Reviews.  You can get a preview of Sweet Tooth here.

  • Colm Tóibín, celebrated Irish author of The Master and Brooklyn, has a new novella that tells an unorthodox account of the life of Mary, adapted from a 2011 play written for the Dublin stage. The Testament of Mary is being called “A work suffused with mystery and wonder” (Kirkus) and “a moving and thought-­provoking take on the life of a religious icon” (Library Journal).

  • Alice Munro, frequent contender for the Nobel Prize and “arguably the best short-story writer in English today” (Booklist) has a new story collection called Dear Life. “It's no surprise that every story in the latest collection by Canada's Munro is rewarding and that the best are stunning” (Kirkus Reviews).

  • Philip Pullman is best known for His Dark Materials, a trilogy of fantasy novels beginning with The Golden Compass beloved by both young readers and adults. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Grimm’s fairy tales, Pullman has written Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version,in which Pullman has selected and revised 50 tales. Pullman is a “master storyteller” who is “perfectly suited to the task” (Library Journal).

  • In 1994, Caleb Carr wrote a mystery steeped in history and psychology about a hunt for a gruesome serial killer in 1895 New York City. The Alienist became a bestseller, won an Anthony Award for Best First Novel, eventually sold two million copies, and years later the book still has a steady stream of readers at the Oakland Public Library. So even though it hasn’t received reviews yet, it’s probably worth keeping an eye out for The Legend of Broken,Carr’s medieval era adventure which rolls out at the end of the month.

  • Lydia Millet concludes the trilogy that began with How the Dead Dream (2008) and Ghost Lights (2011) with Magnificence. Publishers Weekly calls Millet “a dazzling prose stylist” and Booklist calls her trilogy “searching, bitterly funny, ecologically attuned”.

  • Another posthumous novel is due out this month from the late, much admired Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, author of 2666 and The Savage Detectives. Woes of the True Policeman might be Bolaño's final novel—he started writing it in the 1980s and revisited it later in life, but it remained unfinished at the time of his death in 2003. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a seductive grab bag filled with the mysteries of sexuality and literature”.

  • Ru is a semi-autobiographical novel by Vietnamese-Canadian author Kim Thuy. The novel, originally written in French, debuted in Canada and won their Governor General’s Award for 2010.  Tracing her family’s refugee journey in the late 1970s from Vietnam to Malaysia to Canada, this is a “luminous first novel of memories strung together with concise yet lyrical and sensuous prose” (Booklist).

  • Eduardo Halfon is a Guatemalan-born writer who has spent much of his life in the United States. He currently splits his time between his native country and Nebraska. Although he is bilingual, he writes in Spanish, and has already won prizes in the Spanish language literary world. A Guggenheim Fellowship helped him to finish The Polish Boxer, and it is his first work to be translated into English. A Booklist reviewer raved: “The Polish Boxer is sublime and arresting, and will linger with readers, who will be sure to revisit it again and again”.


Are you looking forward to an upcoming new release? Tell us about it!



Flight Behavior

by Barbara Kingsolver
Tired of living on a failing farm and suffering oppressive poverty, bored housewife Dellarobia Turnbow, on the way to meet a potential lover, is detoured by a miraculous event on the Appalachian mountainside that ignites a media and religious firestorm that changes her life forever.


Sweet Tooth
by Ian McEwan
Summary: Recruited into MI5 against a backdrop of the Cold War in 1972, Cambridge student Serena Frome, a compulsive reader, is assigned to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer whose politics align with those of the government.


The Testament of Mary
by Colm Tóibín
A provocative imagining of the later years of the mother of Jesus finds her living a solitary existence in Ephesus years after her son's crucifixion and struggling with guilt, anger, and feelings that her son is not the son of God and that His sacrifice was not for a worthy cause.


Dear Life
by Alice Munro
 A collection of stories illuminates moments that shape a life, from a dream or a sexual act to simple twists of fate, and is set in the countryside and towns of Lake Huron.


Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version
by Philip Pullman 
 Presents mature and scholarly retellings of fifty favorite and lesser-known fairy tales on the two hundredth anniversary of the Grimm brothers' "Children's and Household Tales," in a volume that includes such stories as "Cinderella," "Rapunzel," and "Briar-Rose." 


The Legend of Broken
by Caleb Carr
An epic account about the kingdom of Broken follows the efforts of a solitary noble soldier to confront legendary medieval adversaries to save a fortress city from internal and external dangers.


Magnificence
by Lydia Millet
After her husband's death, Susan Lindley moves into her late great-uncle's Pasadena mansion and restores his taxidermy collection while being joined in the residence by an equally strange human menagerie.


Woes of the True Policeman
by Roberto Bolaño
After his political disillusionment and love of poetry leads to a scandal that forces him to flee from Barcelona, Amalfitano, an exiled Chilean university professor and widower, arrives in Santa Teresa, Mexico where he meets a magician and writer whose work highlights the fragile nature of literature and life.


Ru
by Kim Thuy
An award-winning autobiographical novel follows the immigration experience of a young Vietnamese girl who came of age in a hardscrabble Quebec community before earning an education and pursuing a career and her literary ambitions, in a story imparted as a sensuous array of memories


The Polish Boxer
by Eduardo Halfon
The narrator, a Guatemalan literature professor, encounters a number of interesting characters, including a Serbian classical pianist, a young Israeli woman, and a Mayan poet, before pursuing his most enigmatic subject--himself.


Posted on 11/1/2012 by Christy Thomas, Librarian, Main Library

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