The Eastern Shore by Ward JustFollowing the six-decade career of journalist Ned Ayres, this novel begins not long after World War I, with Ned earning his father's disapproval by foregoing college in favor of entering the newspaper business. By the 1960s, he's a well-respected editor-in-chief, though with few friends and no love life. By 2005, he's retired to an empty home, aware that his devotion to his career (and some unfortunate early decisions) have cost him in ways that, as a young man, he didn't appreciate. Reflective and thought-provoking, this melancholy novel provides an intriguing counterpoint to Tom Rachman's zesty newspaper novel The Imperfectionists.
Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías; translated by Margaret Jull CostaYoung Juan de Vere has taken a job as a personal assistant to eccentric film director Eduardo Muriel, now a fading star. Due to their close proximity, Juan can't help but notice the strange enmity between Eduardo and his wife, Beatriz; he's eventually asked to investigate unsavory rumors involving a doctor friend of hers. Set in Spain in the 1980s, not long after dictator Francisco Franco's death, Thus Bad Begins explores a politically and philosophically treacherous time, the complexities of which open Juan's eyes to the complicity of those around him.
The Comet Seekers by Helen SedgwickIn this complex, multi-layered novel, two peripatetic individuals meet at a remote research base in Antarctica, both driven by loss and drawn by a comet. As their stories unfold, it becomes clear that they have a centuries-old connection, thanks in part to their ancestors, some of whom make appearances throughout this debut, which spans nearly a thousand years. Though it is French chef François and Irish astronomer Róisín who connect, his mother and her cousin play important roles too, as do the ghosts -- and comets -- that surround them. Check this debut out if you enjoy introspective stories (or want to learn more about comets).
Swing Time by Zadie SmithLike Zadie Smith's previous novels, Swing Time is a character-driven tale that addresses race and class (and betrayal) in a thoughtful yet engaging manner. It's the story of two biracial English girls, friends equally entranced by dance but not equally blessed with talent. The never-named narrator has the passion but not the skill; her friend Tracy has both the skill and the drive. As they get older, their friendship is tested and eventually broken by the different paths they take, which wind from northwest London to West Africa and back again over nearly 25 years. Complex and yet pointedly funny, Swing Time is a sure bet for Smith's fans and a good option for readers looking for tales of female friendship.
Monday Mornings by Sanjay GuptaOn Monday mornings at Michigan's Chelsea General Hospital, physicians come together for the Morbidity and Mortality conference, where they are held accountable for the sometimes fatal mistakes they've made. Today, it's neurosurgeon Ty Wilson's turn, and he's not handling the death of a young patient well. In addition to Wilson, we meet several other characters as they move through the hospital, bringing drama and tension to a novel filled with medical detail. Written by a neurosurgeon, Monday Mornings is a great choice for fans of Grey's Anatomy, ER, and other medical dramas.
Flat Water Tuesday by Ron IrwinRob Carrey is from a working-class part of New York State, but he's given the chance of a lifetime when a prestigious boarding school recruits him for their four-man crew team: success in their annual competition is essentially a ticket to Harvard. Told in chapters that alternate between Rob's senior year and 15 years later, when he's a documentary filmmaker, it's clear that some impending disaster looms. If you were fascinated by the nonfiction bestseller The Boys in the Boat, you'll enjoy the athletics seen here; others will appreciate the depictions of both Rob's difficulties as an outsider and the complex relationships between teammates.
Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan JohnDantala Ahmad is a homeless teen in Nigeria, trying to figure out his place in the world while also trying to find a safe place to sleep. Chased off by police, he finds sanctuary in a mosque, where he spends years under the direction of its leader. But Nigeria is a place of religious warfare and political corruption, and Dantala's life is once more shattered by violence. Narrated by Dantala (whose name means "born on a Tuesday"), this debut shares the coming-of-age of a thoughtful young man in a violent, divisive world.
Tuesday's Child by Fern MichaelsIn this page-turning read, defense attorney Kala Aulani is headed into retirement still musing on a ten-year-old murder case that sent her client, Sophie Lee, to prison. Kala believes that Sophie is innocent, so when the victim's husband confesses to the murder, Kala is willing to do anything she can to help Sophie return to a normal life. Sophie herself has plans, which include reconnecting with old friends from her years in an orphanage. But not everything is quite as clear-cut as Kala hopes, and the two women have plenty to learn about redemption and forgiveness.
Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly PrentissThough the 1970s financial crisis certainly affects New York City, it's still a better place to be than Argentina, which is torn by the violence of the nation's dirty war. That's why Argentinian painter Raul is in the city, and at the end of 1979, he's ready to make his mark. Already on the scene is art critic James, set apart from his contemporaries by the synesthesia that allows him to smell colors, see sounds, and describe art in profoundly unusual ways. And finally, the muse -- beautiful Lucy, an Idaho native drawn to New York (and its art scene) by little more than faded photographs. Over the course of one turbulent year, loss brings all three together in the gritty city they've come to call home. This debut -- marked by strong characterizations and vibrant details -- is "both ethereal and brutally realistic" (The New York Times).
Sunday's on the Phone to Monday by Christine ReillyClaudio and Mathilde met at a bohemian party in 1988, marrying soon after. With two biological children and one adopted one, they share a pretty idyllic domestic life through the 1990s, until medical tragedy befalls them. Following the family through 2016 (and beyond), this stylistically complex debut is filled with musical references and lyrics (Claudio's a record store owner, after all) that might have some readers thinking of a bittersweet domestic version of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity.
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