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Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction

January - March 2016 Issue

Asim, Jabari.  Only the Strong: An American Novel
This gritty historical novel depicts life in the African-American community in St. Louis in the 1970’s, through the intertwining stories of the lives and loves of three flawed but sympathetic characters.

Beattie, Ann.  The State We’re In: Maine Stories.
These fifteen short stories set on Maine’s southern coast offer a variety of characters and situations ranging from the mundane to the absurd.

Brelinski, Val.  The Girl Who Slept with God
In this novel set in rural Idaho in the 1970’s, a strict evangelical Christian family abandons their daughter after she becomes pregnant and claims that God is the father of her child.

Campbell, Bonnie Jo.  Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories
This collection of dark, realistic stories centers on mothers and daughters struggling with bad health, bad luck, and bad relationships.

Crucet, Jennine Capo.  Make Your Home Among Strangers
A  student at an elite New York college returns home to Miami for Thanksgiving, and finds that her Cuban-immigrant family is falling apart.

deWitt, Patrick.  Undermajordomo Minor.
In this humorous and adventurous tale, a young man who is a chronic liar leaves his village to work as a domestic in the castle of a mysterious baron.

Doig, Ivan.  Last Bus to Wisdom.
In this adventure novel set in the 1950’s, a boy who has been living happily on a ranch in Montana is sent to live with a bossy great-aunt in Wisconsin, but soon returns west, accompanied by his new friend, his great-aunt’s long-suffering husband.

Ferrante, Elena.  The Story of the Lost Child
This is the fourth and final volume of the Neapolitan Novels, which depict the lives and relationship of two working class women who originally meet as schoolgirls in Naples in the 1950’s.

Greenfeld, Karl Taro.  The Subprimes.
This satirical novel is set in a desolate future America where people with bad credit ratings, called “subprimes”, are unemployable and become homeless fugitives.

Groff, Lauren.  Fates and Furies.
In the first part of this novel, a man moves from a miserable adolescence to fame as an actor, marries a charismatic woman, and becomes a successful playwright; the second part explores events from the wife’s very different perspective.

Hallberg, Garth Risk.  City on Fire.
This large and complex novel is set in New York City between late 1976 and the power blackout of 1977, in a community formed by punk rock musicians, writers, revolutionaries, hangers-on and fans.

Hijuelos, Oscar.  Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise.
This novel, which the author was still editing at the time of his death, tells the story of a friendship between Mark Twain and British explorer Henry David Stanley, after they meet as young men on a riverboat in Louisiana.

Houellebecq, Michel.  Submission
A middle-aged and jaded literature professor narrates this controversial and provocative political fantasy which takes place in 2022, when the Muslim Brotherhood is swept into power in France.

Kurniawan, Eka.  Beauty Is a Wound
A prostitute who has been dead for 21 years suddenly awakens, to begin this fantastical novel by an Indonesian writer, which tells the story of his country through colonial days up to the present.

Lent, Jeffrey.  A Slant of Light.
A soldier, who has returned from the Civil War to his home in upstate New York, discovers that his hired hand has looted and abandoned his farm and run off with the soldier’s wife.

Marra, Anthony.  The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories
This is a collection of linked stories of  love, loyalty, betrayal, and war that take place in Russia and the Soviet Union over a century.

Meno, Joe.  Marvel and a Wonder.
An old Korean War vet, raising his drug-addicted daughter’s son in a dying farm town in Indiana, receives a sudden mysterious gift of a beautful and valuable racehorse; when the horse is stolen, he and his grandson set off to get it back.

Ōe, Kenzaburo.  Death by Water.
An 80 year old Japanese writer returns to his hometown to examine the contents of a red leather trunk which might explain his father’s death by drowning, many years before.

Pamuk, Orhan.  A Strangeness in My Mind
In this novel which takes place in Istanbul over a period of 60 years, a man leaves his village as a child to work as a street vendor,  falls in love with a beautiful woman, writes her passionate love letters, and marries her, only to discover that she is his beloved’s older sister.

Pitts, Jr., Leonard.  Grant Park
In this thriller, an African-American newspaper columnist, who is a former revolutionary, and his editor, a white man who was once a civil rights activist, try to come to terms with their pasts.

Stewart, Amy.  Girl Waits with Gun.
This novel, based on a true story, tells how a feisty young woman in early Twentieth Century New Jersey fought the wealthy and powerful factory owner who injured her with his motor car and refused to pay for the damages.

Stradal, J. Ryan.  Kitchens of the Great Midwest
In this novel told in linked stories with different narrators, a Minnesota girl, born with a remarkably sensitive palate, overcomes a difficult childhood to become a superstar chef.

Tuck, Lily.  The Double Life of Liliane.
This novel, with autobiographical elements, tells the story of a young woman who was born in Paris in 1940, and moved to New York with her mother, while her father, a film producer, made his way eventually to Rome.

Urza, Gabriel.  All That Followed
Three people look back at the history of a small Basque town in Spain, and recall the kidnapping and murder of a local politician by Basque terrorists in the late 1990’s.

Vollmann, William T.  The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War.
This long and detailed historical novel shows how the Nez Perce of the Oregon Territory were systematically stripped of their land by the US government in the Nineteenth Century, and how they resisted displacement.

Watkins, Claire Vaye.  Gold Fame Citrus.
In this novel set in a dystopian future, Californians are forced to evacuate their state due to the severe water shortage, which has turned much of the West into desert.