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Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction

January - March 2017 Issue


See also:

Alameddine, Rabih. The Angel of History.
While sitting in the waiting room of a psychiatric clinic, a gay Arab-American poet thinks back on his childhood in Cairo and Beirut, his youth in San Francisco, and the many horrifying events he has experienced in his life.

Bennett, Brit. The Mothers
This novel follows the interconnected lives of three children growing up in a tightknit African-American community in Southern California: a girl whose mother committed suicide; her best friend, who left home to escape abuse by her stepfather; and a boy whose promising football career was ended by a terrible injury.

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. The Terranauts
In this novel set in the 1990’s, eight scientists take part in an idealistic experiment in which they live for two years in a sealed artificial ecological system in the Arizona desert.

Butler, Robert Olen. Perfume River
Two elderly brothers, whose lives went in different directions during the Vietnam War, meet again after several decades at the bedside of their dying father.

Collins, Kathleen. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?
This is a collection of previously unpublished short stories by an African-American filmmaker and playwright who died young, focusing on the lives and loves of black Americans in the 1960’s.

Cusk, Rachel. Transit
This is the second book in a projected trilogy, focusing on the stories of people who are in transit:  moving their locations, beginning or ending relationships, or making other big changes in their lives.

Davies, Peter Ho. The Fortunes
This novel about the Chinese-American experience is divided into four parts, mixing fact and fiction to portray life in California’s Gold Rush; the life of the movie star, Anna May Wong; the racial murder of a Chinese-American man in the 1980’s; and the experience of a couple who go to China to adopt a child.

Domet, Sarah. The Guineveres
This is a story about four teen-aged girls, who share the same name but have very different backgrounds and personalities, and who are desperate to escape from an isolated convent to which their parents have sent them.

Fuller, Claire. Swimming Lessons. 
A woman in an unhappy marriage disappears while swimming and is presumed drowned, but after her husband thinks he sees her several years later, he and their two grown daughters begin to find letters she wrote to him and hid in his books.

Gangi, Stephanie. The Next
A woman who is dying of breast cancer spends her last days obsessing over her ex-boyfriend’s betrayal of her, ignoring her own daughters in the process, and then, determined to punish her ex, returns to earth as a ghost after her death.

Just, Ward. The Eastern Shore
A newspaper editor and journalist from a small town in Indiana devotes his life to his profession and achieves the highest success, but realizes later that, in his obsession with his career, he gave up opportunities for love and marriage.

Kennedy, A.L. Serious Sweet
A divorced British civil servant, discontent with his life, places an advertisement offering to write romantic letters to women; after one woman actually replies, the two spend a long day trying to connect with each other, constantly being interrupted by a series of crises.

Krivák, Andrew. The Signal Flame
This family saga, set in rural Pennsylvania, begins in the 1970’s and involves a young man who inherits his family’s farm and mill after graduating from college, and his brother, who went to fight in Vietnam, and is declared missing in action.

Lethem, Jonathan. A Gambler’s Anatomy
A high-stakes international gambler, whose run of bad luck is followed by the diagnosis of a serious illness, returns to his hometown of Berkeley, California for experimental surgery, followed by recovery, both physical and psychological.

McBride, Eimear. The Lesser Bohemians.
In this unconventionally written book, a naïve young Irishwoman moves to London to attend drama school, and falls in love with an older man.

Moore, Alan. Jerusalem
This sprawling and inventive novel is a fictional history of an English town, as well as a story about a brother and sister who grow up in a poor part of the city.

Moshfegh, Ottessa. Homesick for Another World
This is a collection of short stories about love, dysfunctional relationships, and bad decisions, written with precision and dark humor.

Pipkin, John. The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter
An Irish astronomer of the eighteenth century, whose family has all died of smallpox, searches the heavens for planets and stars to name after them, and later adopts a daughter who continues his work.

Price, Steven. By Gaslight
In this historical novel set in the Victorian era, a brilliant American private detective is called by Scotland Yard to London to track a violent and cunning con artist.

Prose, Francine. Mister Monkey
The characters in this satiric novel are members of the cast, crew, and spectators of a musical, based on a popular children’s book about an African chimpanzee, that is being performed at an off-off-off Broadway theater.

Saunders, George. Lincoln in the Bardo.  
In this surreal historical novel, Abraham Lincoln, visiting the grave of his beloved son, Willie, one night, meets a group of spirits who attempt to reunite the two of them in the transitional state between death and the next realm.

Sekaran, Shanthi. Lucky Boy
A California couple of East Indian descent, unable to have a child of their own, become foster parents to a baby boy whose mother is an undocumented Mexican immigrant.

Semple, Maria. Today Will Be Different
The narrator of this comedic novel is a successful cartoon animator who has moved from New York to Seattle, where her frantic life, combined with memories of her difficult childhood and her estranged sister, pushes her close to the edge.

Szalay, David. All That Man Is
This is a novel written in nine separate stories about men of different ages, all Europeans travelling or living in foreign countries, who are lonely and confused about their lives.

Thien, Madeleine. Do Not Say We Have Nothing
The turmoil of Chinese politics from 1949 to the present day is portrayed through the stories of several generations of a musical family and their friends.

Towles, Amor.  A Gentleman in Moscow
A Russian count is sentenced to house arrest in Moscow’s elegant Metropol Hotel in 1922, where despite being moved to a tiny attic room, he continues to live with grace, generosity, and dignity.

Tremain, Rose. The Gustav Sonata
A Swiss boy, being raised by his widowed mother after World War II, makes friends with a young Jewish piano prodigy, who helps him see alternatives to his mother’s harsh world view.

Vásquez, Juan Gabriel. Reputations
In this novel by a Colombian writer, a celebrated political cartoonist is reminded of an incident years before when, based on an unproven accusation, he drew a satiric cartoon that destroyed the career and life of a legislator.