Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction
April - June 2012 Issue
Ahmad, Jamil. The Wandering Falcon.
This novel by a Pakistani civil servant portrays the harsh traditional lives of nomadic tribespeople living in the mountainous border region between Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Auslander, Shalom. Hope: A Tragedy.
In this satiric novel, a Jewish man moves to the country with his family in a quest for peace and quiet, but instead loses his job, has problems with his mother, and discovers a famous Holocaust victim living in his attic.
Benaron, Naomi. Running the Rift.
A young man living in Rwanda in the 1980's and 90's becomes a promising athlete, but he is a Tutsi, and the conflict between the ruling Hutus and Tutsis forces him to make difficult choices to survive.
Bennett, Alan. Smut: Stories.
The middle-aged British matrons who are the heroines of these long stories are respectable on the surface, but have rather surprising secret lives.
Byatt, A.S. Ragnarok: The End of the Gods.
This is a retelling of Norse mythology, through the eyes of a young British girl reading a book of myths during World War II and finding resonance between the stories and the war.
Chaon, Dan. Stay Awake: Stories.
The characters in these 12 disturbing short stories are ordinary people who experience bizarre and extreme emotional situations that lead them into a strange, surreal world.
Chung, Catherine. Forgotten Country.
After their father leaves the United States and returns to his native Korea for medical treatment for a serious illness, the family's older daughter is sent to find her estranged younger sister, and to bring her back to rejoin the family.
Englander, Nathan. What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank: Stories.
This is a collection of offbeat short stories that explore the complexity and variety of Jewish identity in the modern world.
Fox, Lauren. Friends Like Us.
The relationship between two longtime best friends is challenged when an old high school pal of one woman falls in love with the other woman.
Harris, Robert. The Fear Index.
In this technological thriller, a physicist develops a computer with the ability to forecast financial markets. But the machine develops a mind of its own, at the same time that a series of strange occurrences seems to be making the inventor lose his.
Hassman, Tupelo. Girlchild.
A bright young girl grows up in a poverty-stricken trailer park in Reno, Nevada, but by her own efforts she rises above her dysfunctional family and the abuse of a neighbor.
Houellebecq, Michel. The Map and the Territory.
This philosophical and comic novel by a French author (who is himself a character in the book) portrays an artist's pursuit of art and life, as he moves from photography to mapmaking to portraiture.
Johnson, Adam. The Orphan Master's Son.
In this political thriller, a young man in modern North Korea leaves the orphanage in which he's grown up, and is recruited into a life of kidnapping, espionage, and torture.
Kunzru, Hari. Gods Without Men.
This novel begins in 2008, when an American man from a Punjabi family, his Jewish wife, and their autistic son move to the Mojave Desert. But then the novel takes up the stories of other people who have lived in the same place in the past: a Spanish missionary, a Mormon group, an eccentric trying to attract extraterrestrials, an anthropology professor, and others.
Lively, Penelope. How It All Began.
When a retired school teacher is mugged on a London street, her misfortune affects first her daughter, and then an increasing number of acquaintances and strangers, leaving their lives accidentally and irrevocably altered.
Livesey, Margot. The Flight of Gemma Hardy.
A Scottish orphan grows up under harsh conditions, has a relationship with an older man, and seeks answers to questions about her past, in a twentieth century story that bears some resemblance to Jane Eyre.
Marcus, Ben. The Flame Alphabet.
In this frightening novel, a serious epidemic hits the adults in an upstate New York community - caused by the speech of their children.
Orner, Peter. Love and Shame and Love.
This novel, set amid the corrupt politics of Chicago, portrays the unhappy relationships in four generations of the Popper family.
Penney, Stef. The Invisible Ones.
In this literary mystery, a private detective tries to find a young English Gypsy woman who disappeared seven years before, after her marriage.
Perlman, Elliot. The Street Sweeper.
A young black man recently released from prison and working as a hospital janitor learns about the Holocaust from an old man dying of cancer; meanwhile, a history professor at Columbia discovers forgotten recordings of conversations with death camp survivors.
St. Aubyn, Edward. At Last.
In this fifth and final book in his Melrose series, a recovering alcoholic attends the funeral of his mother, and reexamines his life and his troubled relationship with his own sons.
Simpson, Helen. In-Flight Entertainment: Stories.
These 13 short stories focus on global issues such as climate change, as well as friendship, marriage, parenting, and infidelity.
Umrigar, Thrity. The World We Found.
Four Indian women, who were great friends in college when they were political activists but who have grown apart as adults, are reunited when one of them is diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor.
Urrea, Luis Alberto. Queen of America.
In this fairy-tale-like historical drama, (the sequel to The Hummingbird's Daughter), a Mexican saint, who is actually the great-aunt of the author, escapes from her enemies with her father, and begins a new life in the United States in the 1890's.
von Rezzori, Gregor. The Ermine of Czernopol.
This lively and satirical novel, originally published in 1958, is set in a fictional city in Eastern Europe, where a proud and humorless Hungarian aristocrat arrives after World War I.