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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in February
See Now Then
by Jamaica Kincaid
See Now Then is the first novel in over a decade from acclaimed Caribbean author Jamaica Kincaid, making its release a highly anticipated event! Kincaid tells the story of a family in small town Vermont, focusing on a marriage that is falling apart. In a starred review, Booklist raves: “Kincaid has created a measured, bewitching, and metaphysical fable, as well as a venomous, acidly comic, and plangent tale of love, betrayal, and loss that is at once slashingly personal and radiantly universal in its mystery, passion, and catharsis.” Fans may also want to catch her City Arts & Lectures appearance on Wednesday, February 13.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories
by Karen Russell
Karen Russell has received some remarkable honors in her short career: her novel Swamplandia! was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 2011; plus she was listed in The New Yorker's 20 Under 40 in 2010, in The National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 in 2009, and in Granta's Best Young American Novelists in 2007. Her new collection of stories is being called “consistently arresting, frequently stunning” by Kirkus Reviews and “mind-blowing, mythic, macabre, hilarious, and tender” by Booklist. If you love the short story format, also check out her first book, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.
by Herman Koch; translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett.
The Dinner is already a best seller in Europe, and the winner of a prestigious book prize in the Netherlands. The story begins when two brothers and their wives meet for dinner in an extravagant restaurant. What begins as a “witty look at contemporary manners” turns into “a take-no-prisoners psychological thriller” (Publishers Weekly) as the two couples turn their attention to a gruesome and criminal family secret. Library Journal calls it “a shocking, humorous, and entertaining novel that effectively uses a misanthropic narrator in leading us through a fancy dinner, with morally savage undertones.” The Wall Street Journal compares it to last summer’s hit thriller Gone Girl. Read or listen to a preview here.
Haruf is best known for his 1999 best seller Plainsong, a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Award. In Benediction, the author returns to the same setting—Holt, in the high plains of Colorado. In this small town, families grapple with numerous forms of difficulty, such as death and loss and estrangement from loved ones. Booklist gives it a starred review, praising Haruf, who “again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions”.
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine
by Teddy Wayne
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a bittersweet satire dissecting the life of an eleven-year-old pop star. Jonny is on tour, coping with his manager mom, and grappling with the burdens of celebrity life, while secretly searching for his long lost dad. Publishers Weekly gives it a starred review and the New York Times says the book is “more than a scabrous sendup of American celebrity culture; it’s also a poignant portrait of one young artist’s coming of age.” Love Song is a follow up to Wayne’s debut novel Kapitoil, about a young, self-taught Qatari programmer who comes to New York City to work in finance. Kapitoil received great reviews but largely flew under the radar.
House of Earth
by Woody Guthrie
House of Earth is the only completed novel by iconic folk singer Guthrie (1912-1967). He wrote it in the 1940s, and it is being published now for the first time. The novel is being described as folksy, political and erotic; it tells a Depression Era story of impoverished West Texas farmers struggling against dust storms that threaten their home. The resurrection of House of Earth is due to a perhaps unlikely duo of historian Douglas Brinkley and actor Johnny Depp, who co-edited this edition. Brinkley and Depp wrote about it last year in the New York Times. Kirkus Reviews calls it “an entertainment--and an achievement even more than a curiosity, yet another facet of Guthrie's multiplex talents.” Publishers Weekly says Guthrie’s “heritage as folksinger, artist, and observer of West Texas strife lives on through these distinct pages infused with the author's wit, personality, and dedication to Americana.”
As Sweet as Honey
by Indira Ganesan
Set on a small island in the Indian Ocean, As Sweet as Honey begins with a wedding in which the groom dies, leaving a new widow—who is also pregnant. The story continues with a large extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles, straddling the worlds of the East and West as their members connect with England and America. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews says “the novel is masterful at exploring the difficulty of cultural identity and integration” and “the characters' genuine charm and the girlish, witty energy of the storytelling are irresistible.”
Percival Everett by Virgil Russell
by Percival Everett
Percival Everett is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California, prolific author and multiple prize winner, including two Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards. Everett’s newest novel, Percival Everett by Virgil Russell (it’s not a typo) sounds inventive, meta-fictional and at times downright baffling. According to the publisher, it may be about a father who is writing “the novel he imagines his son would write” or perhaps “the novel that the son imagines his father would imagine, if he were to imagine the kind of novel the son would write”. Sounds confusing, but reviewers promise that the book is an “intriguing and intricate puzzle of a novel” (Booklist) which is “humanely adept at getting to the heart of the human condition” (Publishers Weekly).
Bear is Broken
by Lachlan Smith
Bear is Broken is Lachlan Smith’s first novel, a legal thriller –slash–murder mystery set in San Francisco. The protagonist is a new lawyer trying to follow in his older brother’s footsteps, a criminal defense attorney with a lot of enemies. While the brothers eat lunch in their usual hangout, the elder is suddenly shot in the head. Unfortunately, the local police aren’t very invested in solving the murder of an attorney that was seen as an adversary. Bear is Broken has received multiple starred reviews. Publishers Weekly praises its “assured prose and taut plotting” while Kirkus Reviews calls it “sensitive, ingenious and suspenseful.”
by Charles Dubow
Debut novel Indiscretion tells the story of a happy marriage between an award winning author and a financially independent woman. They lead a charmed life split between Manhattan and the Hamptons, until an affair breaks their family apart. This premise might not sound earthshattering, but reviewers are unanimously raving about this book. Booklist calls it “a totally addictive read”, Library Journal pronounces it a “deliciously absorbing page-turner”, Publishers Weekly declares it “smart and observant” and Kirkus Reviews calls it “outstanding”, saying it “skillfully tugs at the heartstrings”.
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Posted on 2/1/2013 by Christy Thomas, Librarian, Main Library.