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Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction

April - June 2014 Issue

See also:

Alarcon, Daniel. At Night We Walk in Circles.
In this political allegory, a young actor in an unnamed South American country is picked to join a guerrilla theater group which is reviving an old revolutionary play.

Banks, Russell. A Permanent Member of the Family: Stories.
This is a collection of short stories with traditional plots, well-developed characters, and moving themes.

Calhoun, Kenneth. Black Moon.
This novel portrays a world in which almost everyone gradually loses the ability to sleep, resulting in the breakdown of individuals and culture.

Chapman, Emma. How To Be a Good Wife.
In this suspense novel, a middle-aged Scandinavian woman living in a small village stops taking the medication her husband has been giving her over the two decades of their marriage, and experiences hallucinations that may be suppressed memories.

Doyle Roddy. The Guts.
In this novel, the author revisits some of the musician characters from his first novel, The Commitments, who are now older, struggling with their health, and watching the rapid deterioration of the Irish economy.

Drndic, Dasa. Trieste.
This unconventional novel tells the story of the persecution of Italian Jews during World War II, focusing on a young Jewish woman who is seduced by an SS officer, and whose child is kidnapped and taken to Germany to be raised by an Aryan couple.

Franck, Julia. Back to Back.
In this novel by a prize-winning German author, the close bond between a brother and sister, the neglected children of an East German sculptor, can't prevent them from growing up with damaged psyches.

Gurganus, Allan. Local Souls.
This is a collection of three sensitive and comic novellas, set in the small fictional town of Falls, North Carolina.

Hadley, Tessa. Clever Girl.
A middle-aged Englishwoman relates her life story from the 1960s to the present, showing the shifts in style, attitude, and choices that women experienced over the decades.

Hoffmeister, Peter Brown. Graphic the Valley.
The main character of this unusual novel is an eighteen-year-old man, a descendant of the Yosemiti people who were the original inhabitants of Yosemite National Park, who was born in a car in the park and has lived there illegally ever since.

Klay, Phil. Redeployment.
This is a set of short stories about U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, filled with violence, gallows humor, and a deep understanding of the difficulty soldiers have in returning home.

Krzhizhanovsky, Sigizmund. Autobiography of a Corpse: Stories.
This is a collection of odd, vivid, and comic stories written by a Soviet writer in the 1920's and 1930's.

Magnuson, James. Famous Writers I Have Known.
A con man escaping from the mob finds he has been mistaken for a famous reclusive novelist, and decides to continue the impersonation by teaching a writing workshop.

Marcus, Ben. Leaving the Sea: Stories.
This is a collection of short stories about twentieth century American men, half of them conventional and realistic, and half of them more experimental in structure and tone.

Marias, Javier. The Infatuations.
In this unconventional literary novel by a Spanish author, a woman, who has admired a married couple she sees frequently in a cafe, makes friends with the wife after the husband's murder, and then begins an affair with a friend of the couple, who may know the truth behind the husband's sudden, seemingly random, death.

Merullo, Roland. Vatican Waltz.
A quiet young Massachusetts woman, who has experienced religious visions since childhood, comes to believe that God is calling her to the priesthood, and travels to Rome to try to make her case.

Miller, Mary. The Last Days of California.
A Louisiana man, who believes that the end of the world is near, drags his reluctant wife and teen-aged daughters on a car trip to California to experience the rapture.

Mizumura, Minae. A True Novel.
This long and complex novel, set in post-war Japan and in New York, includes several narratives which gradually converge to tell the story of a businessman whose life resembles the plot of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Mohamed, Nadifa. The Orchard of Lost Souls.
This novel describes the chaotic and violent experience of civil war in Somalia during the late 1980's through the intersecting stories of three women: an elderly widow, an army officer, and a young orphan.

Owuor, Yvonne Adhiambo. Dust.
In this novel set in 2007, a young woman leaves her new home in Brazil to return to her family's homestead in Kenya after her brother is killed in political violence.

Parker, Kelcey. Liliane's Balcony: A Novella of Fallingwater.
This novella tells the story of Liliane Kaufmann, a strong, intelligent woman whose philandering husband commissioned one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most beautiful creations, the house called Fallingwater.

Payton, Brian. The Wind Is Not a River.
In this World War II adventure and love story, a journalist disappears while investigating the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands, and his wife sets off to try to find him.

Perotta, Tom. Nine Inches: Stories.
This is a collection of short stories that explore the lives of middle-class suburbanites, whose errors of judgment lead to the loss of place in the social order of their community.

Phillips, Jayne Anne. Quiet Dell.
This is a fictional retelling of a 1931 crime: the murder of three Chicago children by a serial killer named Harry Powers.

Segal, Lore. Half the Kingdom.
In this darkly comic novel, a hospital emergency room is struck by a rash of "copycat Alzheimer's", and a team of researchers investigate to determine if dementia is contagious.

Spencer, Elizabeth. Starting Over: Stories.
This is a collection of elegant and understated short stories by a Southern writer, several of them centered on dissolving marriages and the consequences to adult children.

Stone, Robert. Death of the Black-Haired Girl.
After a wealthy and beautiful young student at an Ivy League college dies in a car accident, the police investigate her death, while her friends, faculty, and family reexamine their lives.

Theroux, Marcel. Strange Bodies.
This literary science-fiction thriller includes a Samuel Johnson scholar who may or may not be dead, a set of forged letters, and a conspiracy involving Russian scientists.

Van Den Berg, Laura. The Isle of Youth.
The characters in these seven short stories are young women who are trying to unravel family secrets and to learn about themselves.