Fiction A to Z
Brother by David ChariandyWhat it's about: a marginalized community in Toronto, where run-ins with police can quickly turn violent.
Starring: a Trinidadian family composed of two boys and their single mom. The novel itself shifts in time, from when the three were together, to when one brother is no longer around.
Read it for: riveting characters, a melancholy tone, impending sense of doom, and a "haunting story that will linger in readers' memories" (Booklist).
Our Homesick Songs by Emma HooperWhat it is: a fable-like tale of a family -- and a community -- torn apart by their circumstances but struggling to remain together.
The setting: a desolate, dwindling fishing village in Newfoundland, Canada, where the Connors are one of the few families left.
Why you might like it: A quiet meditation on loss, sorrow, and hope, this moving tale offers moments of magical realism.
The Line That Held Us by David JoyWhat it is: a bleak Southern noir in which an accidental death sets in motion an inescapable cycle of violence.
Featuring: two poachers, the loyal friend of one, and the savage but dedicated brother (with a dangerous sense of justice) of the other.
For fans of: Michael Farris Smith's Desperation Road, or the desolate Appalachian settings of Ron Rash's novels.
The Incendiaries by R.O. KwonStarring: Three Korean Americans: grieving university student Phoebe, who falls in with an extremist cult; shy Will, a transfer student from a Bible college; and John, a magnetic zealot who claims to have been released from a North Korean prison.
What happens: In the wake of a violent act that leaves five people dead at the hands of John's quasi-religious cult, Phoebe disappears, leaving Will to piece together what happened.
Reviewers say: "an urgent and disarming debut" (Publishers Weekly).
The Shortest Way Home by Miriam ParkerWhat it's about: In this engaging, character-driven debut, 30-year-old Hannah makes the impulsive decision to quit a promising career in finance in order to help out at a charming Sonoma winery.
Who it's for: Sweet and optimistic while addressing issues of self-discovery and growth, this is a great choice for fans of Jennifer Weiner.
Read this next: Lisa Owen's Not Working, or Kelly Harms' The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay.
Octavia E. Butler's Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy; illustrated by John JenningsWhat it is: a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's classic SF novel, Kindred, in which Dana, a black woman in the 1970s, is pulled back in time to a Southern plantation in 1815.
Read it for: A compelling story that examines the roles that individuals play in perpetuating systemic racism. Plus there's stark illustrations, which change in hue for the two eras, and Dana herself, a determined woman in a challenging environment.
Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel by Jules FeifferWhat it is: a noirish graphic novel set on the dark, menacing streets of Hollywood in the 1930s and '40s.
Read it for: recognizably noir characters -- alcoholic PIs, femmes fatales, tough guys, resourceful widows; the twists and turns of the plot, which require close reading and an appreciation for Jules Feiffer's deft eye for the absurd.
Black Hammer: Secret Origins by Jeff Lemire; illustrated by Dean Ormston and Dave StewartWhat it is: an omnibus of the first six Black Hammer comics issues, sharing the stories of six former superheroes who've been trapped on a farm for a decade.
Read it for: intriguing origin stories, a lot of world-building, and moody artwork fitting for the tale.
What to read next: Volume 2, obviously! It's called The Event -- and there's a new visitor to the farm...
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story... by Sydney PaduaWhat it is: the (not really very true at all) story of the world's first computer, starring Ada Lovelace (who in real life died not long after writing the first paper on computer science) and Charles Babbage (who created, but never built, the first calculating machine). Together they fight crime and financial collapse using a steam-powered Analytical Engine.
Why you might like it: dynamic drawings; plenty of wit and whimsy; tidbits of actual history.
Killing and Dying: Stories by Adrian TomineWhat it is: six short stories, starring flawed, damaged people and illustrated with careful, clean lines (a style that is modified slightly for each story).
What's with the title? "Killing and dying" refers (mostly) to the stage, as a shy young teenager tries her hand at stand-up comedy. Will she kill? Or will she die up there?
For fans of: American cartoonist Chris Ware; Japanese manga artist Toshihiro Tatsumi; the stories of middle America and the working class.
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