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Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction

July - September 2015 Issue

See also:

Acampora, Lauren.  The Wonder Garden: Stories
This is a collection of interconnected stories about the residents of a Connecticut suburb and the strange secrets they hide under their seemingly ordinary lives.

Ackerman, Elliot.  Green on Blue
In this realistic look at life in modern Afghanistan, a young Pashtun man, who wants revenge after his brother is wounded in the bombing of a bazaar, becomes entangled in the complicated and violent politics of his country.

Alcott, Kate.  A Touch of Stardust.
In this novel that portrays the glamorous days of old Hollywood, a young woman from Indiana gets a job on the set of Gone with the Wind, and is befriended by Carole Lombard, the scandalous actress and fellow Hoosier who was having a romance with the movie's star, Clark Gable.

Crummey, Michael.  Sweetland.
The residents of  a small island off of Newfoundland are offered a big government compensation package to leave after the fishing industry dies, but one old man, the island's former lighthouse keeper, refuses to go.

Enright, Anne.  The Green Road.
In this Irish novel that spans thirty years, the four adult children of a difficult and unhappy woman come back home to spend the family's last Christmas together in their old house.

Flournoy, Angela.  The Turner House
Sixty years after an African-American woman from the south moved to Detroit with her husband in search of a better life, the house they worked so hard to buy is no longer worth much, and she and her extensive family have to decide what to do with it.

Freeman, Anna.  The Fair Fight
In this lively novel, set in early 18th century England, a prostitute's daughter becomes a prize fighter and makes friends with an aristocratic woman disfigured by smallpox.

Hannaham, James.  Delicious Foods.
In this inventive novel, an African-American woman, who has descended into depression and addiction after her husband is murdered, is tricked into slavery with an agricultural company that keeps her and her co-workers on drugs.

Haruf, Kent.  Our Souls at Night.
In the author's final novel, set in his fictional small town of Holt, Colorado, a lonely widow asks her widower neighbor to spend the nights with her, and despite their children's disapproval, the two find happiness together.

Klaber, William.  The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell.
This is the fictional memoir of a real 19th century American woman who, faced with few options after her husband left her, disguised herself as a man, worked as a music teacher, and travelled alone in the wilderness.

Knausgaard, Karl Ove.  My Struggle, Book Four
In the fourth installment of this Norwegian writer's six-volume memoir/novel, he recounts the years in his late adolescence when he is first trying to be a writer, begins to drink heavily, and is obsessed with sex.

Larsen, Reif.  I Am Radar
In this unconventional novel, a black child is born to white parents in New Jersey in 1975. His mother, who believes he has a condition that can be cured, becomes involved with a theatrical troupe made up of scientists who stage their performances in war zones.

Locke, Attica.  Pleasantville
In this thriller set in an African-American community in Texas, a lawyer on the verge of retirement agrees to defend a young man accused of murdering a teenaged campaign worker on election night.

Lutz, Lisa.  How to Start a Fire.
In this novel that moves back and forth in time, three young women, very different from each other, become best friends after they meet at college in California in the early 1990's.

McGuane, Thomas.  Crow Fair: Stories
This is a collection of seventeen short stories by a writer from the Big Sky country of Montana, focusing on human relationships and their endings.

Newman, Sandra.  The Country of Ice Cream Star.
A tough young woman named Ice Cream Fifteen Star is the protagonist of this science fiction adventure set in a violent post-apocalypic United States.

Nguyen, Viet Thanh.  The Sympathizer.
The narrator of this novel about the Vietnam War is an aide to a South Vietnamese general, and also a double agent who continues to send information to the Communists in the North after he is airlifted before the fall of Saigon.

Packer, Ann.  The Children’s Crusade.
In this novel about a California family, the four adult children take turns telling the story of their childhoods and their family's disintegration.

Petterson, Per.  I Refuse
Two Norwegian men, once best friends in their youth, meet again for the first time in thirty years and remember the incident that destroyed their friendship.

Reza, Yasmina.  Happy Are the Happy.
This light French novel is made up of 22 short chapters that explore the interlocking lives and relationships of a group of quirky Parisians.

Tremain, Rose.  The American Lover: and Other Stories.
This is a collection of short stories with a wide range of settings, and carefully-drawn characters, who include Leo Tolstoy and Daphne du Maurier.

Vaillant, John.  The Jaguar’s Children.
After a group of Mexicans are trapped in a sealed truck and abandoned by the coyotes they paid to smuggle them into the United States, one man, in a desperate attempt to be rescued, uses a cellphone to record the story of his life.

van den Berg, Laura.  Find Me.
In this post-apocalyptic novel, a young woman who survives a plague that wipes out half of the earth's population is sent to a hospital in Kansas to have her immunity studied. She later escapes and heads for Florida to find the birth-mother who abandoned her.

Vann, David.  Aquarium.
In this dark novel set in Seattle, a 12-year-old girl makes friends with an old man she meets at the Aquarium every day. However, the girl's mother is horrified to discover that the man is her own father,  who had abandoned her and her dying mother years before.

Vargas Llosa, Mario.  The Discreet Hero
In this novel by the Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian author, two separate stories eventually converge: one about a businessman who is being blackmailed; and the other, about an elderly man who suddenly marries his young housekeeper.

Wagamese, Richard.  Medicine Walk.
A dying man in a lumber-mill town in British Columbia calls on his teenaged son to carry him into the mountains, so that he can be buried according to the traditions of his Ojibway and Cree ancestors.

Yu, Hua.  The Seventh Day
In this novel by a contemporary Chinese writer, a dead man, who is barred from the afterlife because he lacks a burial place, revisits his life, starting with his unusual birth on a train and adoption by a railway employee.