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Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction

July - September 2014 Issue

See also:

Boyden, Joseph.  The Orenda. 
This historical and sometimes violent epic set among Indian tribes in 17th Century Canada is told by three narrators: a Huron leader, an Iroquois woman, and a French Catholic priest.

Casey, Maud.  The Man Who Walked Away. 
This novel is a fictionalization of the true story of Albert Dadas, a late Nineteenth Century Frenchman with a psychological condition that gave him an uncontrollable urge to wander.

Charyn, Jerome.  I Am Abraham. 
In this novel, Abraham Lincoln tells his own story of his life,  particularly his inner life, focusing on his emotions and his relations with his family.

Davis, Lydia.  Can't and Won't. 
These imaginative and inventive stories range in length from one sentence to twenty pages. More than a dozen pieces are created from letters by Gustave Flaubert.

Doerr, Anthony.  All the Light We Cannot See. 
This novel, set towards the end of World War II, tells the stories of a blind French teenager living with her uncle in Brittany, and a young German man who tracks down illegal radio transmissions for the German government.

Dunmore, Helen.  The Lie. 
An emotionally scarred English soldier returns to his small Cornwall community after World War I and tries to live a quiet life on a farm, but he is plagued by guilt and haunted by the memory of his best friend, who died in the war.

Glancy, Robert.  Terms & Conditions. 
In this comic novel, a lawyer whose memory has been affected by a car accident tries to piece together the fragments in his brain in order to put his life back together.

Glass, Julia.  And the Dark Sacred Night. 
A middle-aged academic, whose marriage and career are unsuccessful, tries to learn the identity of his birth father and find his father's family.

Greene, Amy.  Long Man. 
This novel, set in Tennessee during the Great Depression, tells the story of a woman who refuses to leave her farm, which the government is planning to flood in order to build a dam and power plant.

Grossman, David.  Falling Out of Time. 
In this novel, a blend of verse, drama, and prose, a man leaves his home in search of his dead son, and is joined by other bereaved parents.

Hoffman, Alice.  The Museum of Extraordinary Things. 
In this novel set in early Twentieth Century New York, a young woman, who is displayed by her father as a mermaid in a freak museum, meets and falls in love with a young photographer.

Hummel, Maria.  Motherland. 
In this story of ordinary middle-class life in Germany during World War II, a young teacher, newly married to a military surgeon, struggles to keep her family safe, despite bombing raids, illness, and signs of evil around them.

Hustvedt, Siri.  The Blazing World. 
After the death of her husband, an embittered female artist arranges for three male artists to exhibit her work as their own.

Just, Ward.  American Romantic. 
This novel begins in Indochina in the early 1960's,  when a young, inexperienced American from the State Department is sent on a secret outreach mission to the enemy, which turns disastrous.

Korelitz, Jean Hanff.  You Should Have Known. 
A successful therapist happily married to a wealthy doctor finds her comfortable, perfect life turned upside down after a new acquaintance is found brutally murdered.

Matthiessen, Peter.   In Paradise. 
An American professor of Slavic literature attends a spiritual retreat at the site of the Auschwitz death camp. He is studying the life of a Polish writer who had been interned there, and also hopes to learn more about his own family history.

Mengestu, Dinaw.  All Our Names. 
A young man comes to the capital of his African country to study at the university, meets a revolutionary, and finds himself pulled into a rebellion that turns violent.

Minot, Susan.  Thirty Girls. 
This is a fictionalized account of a true story, the abduction of a group of female students from a Catholic boarding school in Uganda, in 1996.

Nesbit, Tarashea.  The Wives of Los Alamos. 
This novel portrays the lives of the women married to the scientists who developed the atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1943.

Osborne, Lawrence.  The Ballad of a Small Player. 
This is a story about a British lawyer living in Hong Kong, who squanders his ill-gotten fortune obsessively playing baccarat.

Oyeyemi, Helen.  Boy, Snow, Bird. 
In this retelling of "Snow White" set in Massachusetts in the 1950's, a young woman marries a widower with a daughter. When she subsequently gives birth to her own child, she learns her husband's family secret - they are African-Americans passing as white.

Reichl, Ruth.  Delicious! 
In this first novel by a well-known food writer and restaurant critic, a young woman gets a job as an assistant at a food and cooking magazine in New York, makes friends, and finds romance.

Ryan, Donal.  The Spinning Heart. 
This novel, which depicts Ireland's devastating economic collapse, tells the story of a builder whose business went bust.

Simpson, Mona.  Casebook.  
A nine-year-old boy snoops on his parents, and discovers to his horror that their marriage is falling apart. As he grows older, he continues to spy on his mother, whose new boyfriend may not be all he pretends to be.

Townsend, Jacinda.  Saint Monkey. 
This is a story about the friendship between two black teenaged girls in a small town in Kentucky, in the 1950's; after tragedies strike both their families, one of them moves to Harlem, to play piano at the Apollo Theater.

Villalobos, Juan Pablo.  Quesadillas. 
In this comic novel set in Mexico, a poor family, whose children have been given names from Greek mythology, subsists almost entirely on tortillas with cheese, and in hard times, tortillas without cheese.

Vlautin, Willy.  The Free. 
The lives of a group of damaged people, including a disabled Iraqi war veteran, a nurse, and a runaway, intersect, and are changed as they learn to care for each other.

Walsh, Therese.  The Moon Sisters. 
In this novel with magical elements, two sisters, who have responded differently to their mother's suicide, travel together to the setting of her unfinished novel.