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Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction

January - March 2013 Issue

See also:

Alexie, Sherman. Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories.
This is a collection of 30 darkly comic stories, some new and some previously published, many of them focusing on life among American Indians in the Pacific Northwest.

Banville, John. Ancient Light.
In this novel which explores the distortions of memory, an elderly actor, unexpectedly cast as the lead in a biographical film, recalls the affair he had at the age of 15 with his best friend’s mother.

Chabon, Michael. Telegraph Avenue.
In this big and complex novel set in Oakland, California in 2004, a used vinyl record store that has become a neighborhood institution is threatened when a former NFL quarterback announces his plan to build a chain superstore nearby.

Coplin, Amanda. The Orchardist.
In this novel set in Washington State in the early 20th century, a middle-aged man, who lives alone and tends his family orchard, takes in two pregnant teenagers fleeing a brothel, and raises the baby of one of them.

Engelmann, Karen. The Stockholm Octavo.
In this adventurous historical novel, set in Sweden in the late 18th century, a young man searching for a wife has his fortune told at a tavern and finds himself caught up in a conspiracy against the King.

Fountain, Ben. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
In this black comedy, eight soldiers who have served heroically in the Iraq war are sent on tour by the Army as a public relations stunt, ending up as guests at a nationally televised Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day football game.

Frankel, Laurie. Goodbye for Now.
A software engineer who works for an online matchmaking site develops a program which leads him to find his perfect woman. After her grandmother dies, he develops another program that allows users to communicate with the deceased.

Gillham David R. City of Women.
In this suspense novel set in 1943 Berlin, a beautiful blonde stenographer, whose husband is serving on the eastern front, and whose lover, a Jewish black marketeer, has gone into hiding, becomes involved in a dangerous underground network.

Greenfeld, Karl Taro. Triburbia.
This novel, actually a collection of linked stories, set in the fashionable but changing Tribeca area in lower Manhattan, focuses on a group of affluent artists who meet every morning for breakfast and to talk about the problems in their lives.

Heller, Peter. The Dog Stars.
In this postapocalyptic adventure story set in Colorado, a man who is one of the few survivors of a devastating flu pandemic takes off in his small vintage airplane in search of another human being whose voice he’s heard unexpectedly over the radio.

Josefson, Dan. That’s Not a Feeling.
This funny and poignant novel is set in a very strange boarding school for troubled teenagers where a suicidal 16 year old boy suddenly finds himself in residence.

Kimmel, James, Jr. The Trial of Fallen Angels.
In this spiritual suspense story, a successful lawyer dies and finds herself assigned represent other souls at their Final Judgment in a celestial courtroom.

Kitamura, Katie. Gone to the Forest.
This novel, which takes place on a struggling farm in an unstable colonial country on the brink of civil war, tells the story of a young man under the control of his domineering father, and a manipulative woman whose presence sets off conflict between them.

Lam, Vincent. The Headmaster’s Wager.
The main character in this novel set in Saigon, during the Vietnam War, is the affluent headmaster of an English language academy; a man of Chinese heritage, a womanizer, and a gambler, he struggles to survive amid complex political forces and to protect his beloved son.

Lasser, Scott. Say Nice Things About Detroit.
A man who left Detroit after high school returns home to help his father take care of his mother, who is sinking into dementia, and is surprised to find himself in new relationships with family, friends, and the city itself.

Mantel, Hilary. Bring Up the Bodies.
This is the second book in a trilogy set in England in the reign of Henry VIII; in this volume, the King begins to tire of his new wife, Anne Boleyn, and assigns his powerful minister, Thomas Cromwell, the task of bringing about her downfall.

Netzer, Lydia. Shine Shine Shine.
The main character in this novel is a woman whose brilliant and eccentric husband goes on a mission to the moon, leaving her alone to care for her dying mother and her autistic son. Unexpected events lead her to embrace her own and her family’s peculiarities.

O’Reilly, P.A. The Fine Color of Rust.
The heroine and narrator of this humorous Australian novel is a scrappy woman named Loretta, the mother of two, deserted by her husband, and living in a blighted small town called Gunapan.

Pitts, Leonard, Jr. Freeman.
In this historical novel set after the end of the Civil War, an African-American man, formerly a slave, leaves his job in Philadelphia and goes south to try to find his wife and reunite his family.

Ratner, Vaddey. In the Shadow of the Banyan.
In this autobiographical novel set in Cambodia in the 1970’s, the members of a wealthy and educated family are forced from their home in Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge and experience years of forced labor, hunger, and the loss of loved ones.

Serber, Natalie. Shout Her Lovely Name.
Most of the 11 stories in this collection tell the story of the complicated relationship between a single mother and her daughter, over a period of two decades.

Smith, Zadie. NW.
The title of this intricate and unconventional novel refers to North West London, a poor, diverse, and rapidly changing area. The book is primarily about two young women, once close friends, who grew up together but chose different paths in life.

Somerville, Patrick. This Bright River.
A recovering addict and ex-felon returns to his small home town in Wisconsin to fix up his late uncle’s house, as well as to try to rebuild his relationship with his wealthy family and find direction for his life.

Tan, Twan Eng. The Garden of Evening Mists.
In this novel set in Malaysia, a retired judge, in order to record her memories before she loses them, returns to a garden where she had been an apprentice to a Japanese gardener after surviving a World War II Japanese slave labor camp.

Wilson, G. Willow. Alif the Unseen.
In this imaginative novel that mixes traditional Arab folklore with modern technology, a computer hacker in an unnamed country in the Middle East creates a programming code that makes him the target of the state police.