by Andrea Goldsmith
Mikhail Gorbachev has been in power for a year when twenty-four-year-old book illustrator Galina Kogan leaves Leningrad — forbidden ever to return. As a Jew, she’s inherited several generations worth of Russia’s chronic anti-Semitism. As a Soviet citizen, she is unprepared for her new home, Australia, and its easy-going ways.
Once settled in Melbourne, Galina is befriended by Sylvie and Leonard Morrow, and their adult son, Andrew. The Morrow marriage of thirty years balances on secrets. Leonard is a man with conflicted desires and passions, while Sylvie chafes against the confines of domestic life. Their son, Andrew, a successful mosaicist, is a deeply shy man. He is content with his life and work — until he finds himself increasingly drawn to Galina.
While Galina grapples with the tumultuous demands that come with being an immigrant in Australia, her presence disrupts the lives of each of the Morrows. No one is left unchanged.
Elsey come home by Susan ConleyStarring: American expat Elsey, who lives in China with her Dutch husband and their kids. A frustrated painter, Elsey's also a heavy drinker.
What happens: At the request of her husband, Elsey attends a yoga retreat. There, she's forced to face her drinking and her fears about parenting, painting, and so much else.
Why you might like it: Straightforward, vulnerable Elsey is a sympathetic heroine at a crossroads.
Unmarriageable by Soniah KamalWhat it is: a retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan.
What else do you need to know? Scene-by-scene recreations will delight Janeites, but the setting also provides both humour and thought-provoking insight into Pakistani culture.
Want a taste? "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl can go from pauper to princess or princess to pauper in the mere seconds it takes for her to accept a proposal."
An orchestra of minorities by Chigozie ObiomaWhat it is: a devastating account of Nigerian poultry farmer Chinonso's attempts to win the woman he loves, as told by his chi (guardian spirit).
Why you might like it: A contemporary twist on Homer's The Odyssey, Chinonso's quest invokes Nigerian history and cosmology; this heartbreaking slow burn is both tense and tragic.
Reviewers say: "magnificently multilayered" (Booklist); "a rare treasure" (Seattle Times).
Golden state by Ben H. WintersIn a world... where everything is documented and even tiny lies are a punishable offence, Golden State is an independent nation that values truth above all else, even though its history is murky.
What happens: In the wake of a suspicious death, veteran special agent Lazlo Ratesic begins to doubt the laws he's always upheld.
Why you might like it: Part police procedural, part dystopian fiction, this thought-provoking tale explores terrifying territory similar to George Orwell's 1984.
Focus on: Recent Short Stories
How to love a Jamaican by Alexia ArthursWhat it is: a debut collection of vignettes set in Jamaica, New York, and the American Midwest, which together embody the variety in the Jamaican experience.
Starring: Multicultural main characters varying in age, gender, sexual orientations, and values who navigate evolving senses of race, family, history, and tradition.
Kudos: One story won the Paris Review's Plimpton Award; the book was named a "top 15" book of 2018 by O: The Oprah Magazine.
The largesse of the sea maiden by Denis JohnsonWhat it is: a witty, edgy collection of five short stories by National Book Award-winning Denis Johnson, published posthumously.
Why you might like it: From mental illness and self-destruction to old age and mortality, these are melancholy and offbeat tales. And while there's a masculine bent to the collection, you needn't be a man to enjoy it.
Reviewers say: "an instant classic" (Publishers Weekly); "incisive" (Booklist).
Beautiful days by Joyce Carol OatesWhat it is: Dark and complex, this new collection from the prolific Joyce Carol Oates includes the Pushcart Prize-winning "Undocumented Alien" and 12 other devastating stories.
Featuring: awkward encounters, violent clashes, acts of defiance; broken characters and flawed relationships; secret inner lives and overweening guilt.
Fan favourites: "Fleuve Bleu," "Undocumented Alien," and "Fractal."
Property: stories between two novellas by Lionel ShriverWhat it is: two novellas and ten short stories, all focusing on belongings -- whether real estate or more personal possessions.
Read it for: precise language and well-developed characters, wry humour, and clever takes on co-habitation and home ownership in the U.S. and U.K.
Want a taste? "She enjoyed being in his physical company the way she enjoyed sitting in a smartly decorated restaurant."
You think it, I'll say it by Curtis SittenfeldWhat it is: a collection of both original and previously published short stories, generally focusing on white middle class characters with humour and honesty.
Why you might like it: Conversational and witty, these stories explore contemporary issues (social media addiction) and familiar quandaries (ambivalence towards motherhood).
Fan favourites: "Gender Studies," "The Prairie Wife," "Off the Record."
Contact your librarian for more great books!