Fiction A to Z
Evening in Paradise: More Stories by Lucia BerlinAbout the author: Lucia Berlin died in 2004 at age 68; it wasn't until her first posthumous collection was published in 2015 (A Manual for Cleaning Women) that she became known to a wider audience.
The collection: could be considered semi-autobiographical, given some similarities in locations (Lucia lived all over the American Southwest and in Latin America) and themes (homesickness, for one).
Reviewers say: "No dead author is more alive on the page than Berlin: funny, dark, and so in love with the world" (Kirkus Reviews).
A Ladder to the Sky by John BoyneStarring: ruthless, manipulative Maurice Swift, who furthers his own literary career at the considerable expense of others.
Read it for: a fast-paced story, an insider's dark view of the publishing world, completely unsavory characters, and layers upon layers of plotting.
For fans of: the classic film All About Eve or Patricia Highsmith's popular novel The Talented Mr. Ripley.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan BraithwaiteStarring: hardworking, practical Korede, and her beautiful sister Ayoola, who seems to have made a habit of killing her boyfriends.
What it's about: Korede is the one who ends up having to dispose of the bodies and keep her sister out of jail. But when the handsome doctor who Korede has fallen in love with notices Ayoola and asks for her number, Korede faces a dilemma.
Why you might like it: This darkly funny debut captures complex family relationships and the crowded streets of Lagos, Nigeria, with equal skill.
One Day in December by Josie SilverWhat it's about: A fleeting encounter at a London bus stop has Laurie pining for a stranger -- who, a year later, shows up on the arm of her best friend.
What happens next: It's a case of terrible timing, and for ten years, Laurie and Jack repress their feelings for each other. While there's eventually a happy ending, the journey there is far from smooth.
For fans of: Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally, and other charming romantic comedies.
Family Trust by Kathy WangFeaturing: terminally ill patriarch Stanley Huang, and his prospective heirs, who wonder how much he's really worth while considering their own failures and successes as second-generation Taiwanese Americans.
What it's about: While debut author Kathy Wang pokes fun at Silicon Valley culture, this is a novel about family relationships, aging, and class privilege.
Is it for you? Fans of Cynthia D'aprix Sweeney's The Nest will find much to appreciate.
Focus on: Unreliable Narrators
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna CannonStarring: 84-year-old Florence Claybourne, who, after a fall, awaits rescue at the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly.
What happens: While she waits, Florence reflects on the passage of time, on her longtime friend Elsie and the secret they share, and on a man Florence thought was dead -- the murderer of Elsie's sister -- who seems to have joined Cherry Tree. But how is that possible?
Read it for: stubborn Florence, a fair bit of suspense, and the friendships that develop between residents at the home.
The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher GreeneHow it begins: After respected headmaster Arthur Winthrop is found wandering Manhattan's Central Park -- naked -- he explains how he got there...and then confesses that he's murdered one of his students.
What happens: Well, that's complicated, and we can't say much without giving it all away. Just know that what starts out as seemingly the story of a mid-life crisis soon turns much, much more complicated.
Reviewers say: "one of the most convincingly drawn unreliable narrators that readers may ever meet" (Library Journal).
Nutshell by Ian McEwanIn a nutshell (sorry, couldn't resist!): Imagine a crime of passion based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, narrated by a fetus. Yup, you read that right -- Whitbread Award-winning Ian McEwan has written an interpretation of the classic tragedy with a wholly unique narrator.
Disaster looms: How can an unborn baby prevent the murder of his father at the hands of his mother and uncle?
Read it for: the moments of wit (our narrator has paid attention as his mother listens to her educational podcasts).
The Reason You're Alive by Matthew QuickStarring: Vietnam veteran David Granger, who believes his brain tumor was caused by Agent Orange, no matter what the doctors say.
What happens: A widower with an estranged son, cranky and suspicious David relates the story of his life, and attempts to right a long-ago wrong.
Is it for you? David's indelicate opinions and strong language won't be for everyone, but this cantankerous old man's honesty and introspection is unforgettable.
Loner by Teddy WayneStarring: utterly unmemorable David Federman, who wants to make a name for himself in his first semester at Harvard, and sets his sights on beautiful Veronica.
What happens: David's self-absorbed attempts move from pathetic to disconcerting to downright creepy, and we're left wondering exactly what is going on.
Is it for you? Fans of novels that cause psychological discomfort (think Sebastian Faulks' Engleby) will relish the increasingly unsettling nature of David's actions.
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