Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction
January - March 2012 Issue
Abu-Jaber, Diana. Birds of Paradise.
A young woman who ran away from her home in Miami at the age of 13 celebrates her 18th birthday; meanwhile, her parents and brother immerse themselves in their work to distract themselves from her loss.
Adiga, Aravind. Last Man in Tower.
In this novel set in Mumbai, India, the residents of a middle-class apartment building are offered money by a real estate developer who plans to demolish it. But the residents won't receive the money unless their decision is unanimous, and there is one holdout.
Banks, Russell. Lost Memory of Skin.
In this graphically written novel set in Florida, a young man who lives in a shantytown for homeless sex offenders on probation is interviewed by a professor who intends to study and cure him to prove a theory.
Barry, Sebastian. On Canaan's Side.
An old woman, who has lived most of her life in America but was born in Ireland, looks back on her life and remembers the men she's lost over time - her brother, father, fiancé, husband, son, and grandson. 9780670022922
Cohen, Leah Hager. The Grief of Others.
The death of a newborn baby threatens to destroy his family; his mother had known he would be born with a brain defect but kept the knowledge to herself; his father has secrets of his own.
Delaney, Edward J. Broken Irish.
The characters in this novel , including a recovering alcoholic, a widow, a priest, and a couple of teenagers, are downtrodden people living in "Southie", South Boston, at the end of the 20th Century.
Enright, Anne. The Forgotten Waltz.
In this novel set in contemporary Ireland in the midst of financial collapse, a married woman has an intense affair with a married man, bringing about the dissolution of both marriages.
Farah, Nuruddin. Crossbones.
In this thriller, a former political prisoner returns to Somalia to visit a friend, accompanied by his son-in-law, a journalist, who puts himself into danger by trying to unravel the relationships between pirates and extremists.
Giraldi, William. Busy Monsters.
In this comedy, a man whose fiancée has left him for an oceanographer and the pursuit of a giant squid, tries to win her back by confronting Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest and looking for UFO's in Seattle.
Hensher, Philip. King of the Badgers.
In a working class neighborhood on the outskirts of an English seaside town, a little girl is kidnapped, setting off a campaign to fill the town with surveillance cameras.
Kennedy, William. Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes.
In this complex story of politics and corruption, a young American journalist meets Ernest Hemingway in Havana, Cuba in 1957; interviews Fidel Castro; marries a revolutionary; and becomes a gun-runner. Eleven years later, the same reporter finds himself in the middle of a race riot in Albany, New York.
Matar, Hisham. Anatomy of a Disappearance.
This novel, by a Libyan author, tells the story of a boy who lives in Cairo with his father, an exiled political activist. The father marries a very young woman, and then is kidnapped by his political enemies. After his father vanishes, the boy learns the truth about his father's life.
Murakami, Haruki. 1Q84.
In this literary science fiction novel set in Tokyo in 1984 in an alternate universe, a boy and girl who once held hands when they were ten years old attempt to find each other again as adults, helped and hindered by a large assortment of imaginative characters.
Obreht, Tea. The Tiger's Wife.
A young woman doctor crosses a border in the war-torn Balkans to find out how her beloved grandfather had died; other elements of this novel include stories her grandfather had told her when she was a child about a man who collected the souls of the dead, and an escaped zoo tiger that befriended an abused deaf-mute woman.
Ondaatje, Michael. The Cat's Table.
In this gracefully written coming of age story set sixty years ago, an 11-year-old boy sets off on a sea voyage from Ceylon to London to join his mother.
Otsuka, Julie. The Buddha in the Attic.
This novel, set early in the 20th century, depicts the lives of a group of "picture brides" who left Japan for arranged marriages to Japanese men working in California.
Sakey, Marcus. The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes.
In this thriller, a man who has washed up on the Maine coast and is suffering from amnesia discovers that he was a Los Angeles screenwriter, his wife has been murdered, and he's a suspect.
Sem-Sandberg, Steve. The Emperor of Lies.
This novel by a Swedish author is based on the true story of the Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland during World War II; operated by Jewish elders and Nazis, it gave Jews manufacturing jobs before sending them to death camps.
Shakar, Alex. Luminarium.
A brilliant computer game developer attempts to make games more vivid than reality; after he falls into a coma, his identical twin brother begins to receive emails that seem to come from another world.
Smith, Ali. There But For The.
A man suddenly leaves a London dinner party, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to come out. In response, a group of neighbors who barely know him gather to give their opinions on his story.
Tobar, Hector. The Barbarian Nurseries.
In this novel set in Southern California, a formerly wealthy couple have a violent quarrel over their finances and both suddenly take off; their cook, an undocumented Latina immigrant, takes their children to Los Angeles to try to find their grandfather.
Torres, Justin. We the Animals.
In this autobiographical novel set in rural upstate New York, three boys, the children of a white mother and a Puerto Rican father, grow up with their mother's absence as a night shift worker, and their father's violence.
Tuck, Lily. I Married You For Happiness.
A woman whose husband of 42 years, a professor of mathematics, has suddenly died, spends the night alone with his body, reminiscing about their lives together.
Ward, Jesmyn. Salvage the Bones.
This novel, set in a poor town in the Mississippi bayou, portrays the life of a pregnant African American teenager, her drunken father, her brothers, and a litter of pit bull puppies in the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina.
Whitehead, Colson. Zone One.
In this darkly humorous post-apocalyptic novel set in Manhattan, a plague has created hordes of zombies; and a lonely, troubled man struggles to exterminate them.