Fiction A to Z
Evening in Paradise: More Stories by Lucia BerlinIn 2015, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published A Manual for Cleaning Women, a posthumous story collection by a relatively unknown writer, to wild, widespread acclaim. It was a New York Times bestseller; the paper’s Book Review named it one of the Ten Best Books of 2015; and NPR, Time, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and other outlets gave the book rave reviews.
The book’s author, Lucia Berlin, earned comparisons to Raymond Carver, Grace Paley, Alice Munro, and Anton Chekhov. Evening in Paradise is a careful selection from Berlin’s remaining stories―twenty-two gems that showcase the gritty glamour that made readers fall in love with her. From Texas to Chile, Mexico to New York City, Berlin finds beauty in the darkest places and darkness in the seemingly pristine. Evening in Paradise is an essential piece of Berlin’s oeuvre, a jewel-box follow-up for new and old fans.
A Ladder to the Sky by John BoyneMaurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for fame. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite"Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer."
Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead.
Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she's exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she's willing to go to protect her.
Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite's deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.
One Day in December by Josie SilverLaurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.
Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
Family Trust by Kathy WangMeet Stanley Huang: father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Meet Stanley's family: son Fred, frustrated that his years of academic striving (Harvard MBA!) haven't protected him from career stagnation; daughter Kate, balancing a capricious boss, a distracted husband, and two small children; ex-wife Linda, familiar with and suspicious of Stanley's grandiose ways; and second wife Mary, giver of foot rubs and ego massages.
For years, Stanley has insistently claimed that he's worth a small fortune. Now, as the Huangs come to terms with Stanley's approaching death, they are also starting to fear that Stanley's "small fortune" may be more "small" than "fortune."
Focus on: Unreliable Narrators
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna CannonAfter a fall, 84-year-old Florence Claybourne awaits rescue at the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly.
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 GreeneAfter 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 QuickVietnam veteran David Granger believes his brain tumor was caused by Agent Orange, no matter what the doctors say.
A widower with an estranged son, cranky and suspicious David relates the story of his life, and attempts to right a long-ago wrong.
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 WayneUtterly unmemorable David Federman wants to make a name for himself in his first semester at Harvard, and sets his sights on beautiful Veronica.
David's self-absorbed attempts move from pathetic to disconcerting to downright creepy, and we're left wondering exactly what is going on.
Fans of novels that cause psychological discomfort will relish the increasingly unsettling nature of David's actions.
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