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Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction, Summer 2022

Great recent titles you may have missed, selected by our librarians.

July-September 2022 Issue


See also:

Ahmad, Aamina.  The Return of Faraz Ali.  
In this literary mystery set in Lahore, Pakistan, a young police officer, whose mother was a prostitute, is assigned by his high-ranking father to investigate and cover up the murder of a sex worker in the city's red-light district. Ebook, downloadable audiobook

Alharthi, Jokha. Bitter Orange Tree.
In this dreamlike and free-form novel, an Omani woman studying at a university in England tries to make friends and fit into her new life, but she still has strong attachments to her old life in Oman, and especially to the poor family relation she thought of as her grandmother. Ebook

Barenbaum, Rachel.  Atomic Anna.  
The main character in this complex time-travel novel is a Soviet nuclear scientist who designed the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, and who accidentally jumps into the future when the reactor melts down.

Barnhill, Kelly.  When Women Were Dragons.  
In this feminist fantasy set in the United States in the 1950s, hundreds of thousands of women transform into dragons on the same day, setting off tremendous destruction. Downloadable audiobook

Bennett, Claire-Louise.  Checkout 19.  
A middle-aged working-class Englishwoman who has been bookish all her life reflects on her attachment to the printed page, her strange experiences with books, and her early attempts at writing stories herself.

Bhanoo, Sindya.  Seeking Fortune Elsewhere: Stories.  
A collection of eight psychologically perceptive stories featuring Indian-American characters, set in the United States and India. Ebook

Bieker, Chelsea.  Heartbroke: Stories.  
A collection of 11 dark short stories, mostly set in rural central California, narrated by a cast of poor, naive, and desperate characters.

Bulawayo, NoViolet.  Glory.  
This allegorical novel, set in a fictional country in Africa whose citizens are all anthropomorphic animals, tells the story of an old dictator and the struggle for power that follows the end of his reign. Ebook

Casey, Maud.  City of Incurable Women.
This stream-of-consciousness novel is inspired by the real stories of women in a 19th century Paris mental hospital and by the career of an early French neurologist who used photography and hypnosis to study his patients.

Chadburn, Melissa.  A Tiny Upward Shove.
The dark and graphically told story of the short harrowing life and death of a young Filipino woman living in California, told in part by a spirit from Filipino folklore.
Chaon, Dan.  Sleepwalk.  
In this post-apocalyptic tale set in the the near future, a middle-aged mercenary who lives off the grid and travels in a camper van with his dog receives a phone call from a young woman who claims to be his daughter.

Diaz, Hernán.  Trust.
This intellectual and constantly surprising novel is actually four related novellas, beginning with the novel Bonds, a best-seller in 1937, which tells the story of a successful Wall Street tycoon and his downfall after the stock market crash.

Espach, Alison.  Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance.  
In this novel told in the second person, a young woman, whose older sister was killed in a car accident at the age of 16, finds her subsequent life shaped by her family's loss, and recounts her story to her dead sister. Ebook

Foley, Aaron. Boys Come First.
Three Black gay men search for love and meaning in Detroit, which has long been their home, but is now changing rapidly through gentrification.

Fowler, Karen Joy.  Booth.
A biographical novel about Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, centering on his upbringing in a theatrical family as the son of an alcoholic father and a frequently depressed mother. Ebook, downloadable audiobook

Fu, Melissa.  Peach Blossom Spring.
This novel, which begins in 1938 in China and spans eight decades, tells the story of a Chinese widow who flees her home with her son during the Japanese invasion. Later, her son moves to the United States for college and turns his back on his history and heritage. Ebook

Gillham, David R.  Shadows of Berlin.
In New York in the 1950s, a Jewish German woman who survived the Holocaust suffers from survivor's guilt until her uncle finds a painting done by her mother, an artist who died in a concentration camp.

Ginder, Grant.  Let’s Not Do That Again.  
In this comic novel, an American progressive politician running for the Senate finds her campaign in jeopardy after her daughter takes part in a violent political protest in Paris, in the company of a French right-wing extremist. Ebook
Handke, Peter.  The Fruit Thief: Or, One-Way Journey Into the Interior.  
In this unusual and slowly evolving story, an elderly man, who has stepped on a bee, sets off on a long journey through the Northern French countryside, partly in pursuit of a young woman he calls the “Fruit Thief.”

Hartnett, Annie.  Unlikely Animals.
In this touching and comic family story, a young woman who was born with special healing abilities drops out of medical school and moves back to her small New Hampshire hometown to care for her dying father, who is hallucinating and being haunted by the ghost of a dead naturalist.

Heti, Sheila.  Pure Colour.  
In this unusual and philosophical novel, a young woman whose father dies becomes a spirit with him, and the two spirits live in a leaf overlooking a lake, discussing love, death, family, and the world. Ebook

Holleran, Andrew.  The Kingdom of Sand.
The narrator of this novel is an older gay man who lives in a small, conservative town in Florida, and who has a friend, also gay, who is much older and nearing death.

Kohda, Claire. Woman, Eating.
An artist in London with a Japanese human father and a vampire mother leaves home when her mother moves into assisted living, and realizes that she feels separated from her various identities.

Osunde, Eloghosa.  Vagabonds!  
This magical realist novel, in the form of a group of interconnected short stories, takes place in Lagos, Nigeria, and features a cast of mostly gay and trans characters who are oppressed by their society, but sometimes aided by supernatural spirits. Ebook

Pellegrino, Amanda.  Smile and Look Pretty.
Four friends, who work as assistants in prestigious fields, but whose talents are being wasted on menial tasks, meet regularly to vent to each other, and then start an anonymous blog. Ebook

Perkins-Valdez, Dolen.  Take My Hand.
In Montgomery, Alabama in the 1970s, an idealistic young Black nurse takes a job at a family planning clinic, and is horrified to realize that abuses, such as involuntary sterilizations, are taking place there. Ebook, downloadable audio
Saint, Jennifer.  Elektra.  
A retelling of the Greek myth of the House of Atreus through the eyes of three powerful women: Cassandra, a Trojan princess who receives the gift of prophecy but whose predictions are never believed; Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon; and Elektra, her daughter.

Shipstead, Maggie.  You Have a Friend in 10A.
A collection of 10 inventive short stories with distinctive characters in a range of styles and settings, written early in the career of a writer who is now a successful novelist.
Smith, Ali.  Companion Piece.  
In this unusual novel full of word play, myths, and time changes, a painter at home in England in 2021, during the height of the pandemic, receives a phone call from a woman she barely knew in college thirty years earlier. Ebook

Straight, Susan.  Mecca.
This novel examines the lives of members of Southern California's Latinx Community, and the threats they face from fires, earthquakes, police, and ICE.

Stuart, Douglas.  Young Mungo.  
The story of a protestant teenager, growing up surrounded by alcoholism and violence in Glasgow, Scotland in the late 1990s, who falls in love with a Catholic boy his age. Ebook, downloadable audiobook

Tawada, Yoko.  Scattered All Over the Earth.  
In this intellectual adventure set in the future, a refugee from Japan, which no longer exists, works in Denmark teaching immigrant children a simple Scandinavian language she has invented; after she meets a man who is a linguist, they travel through northern Europe in search of another speaker of her native language.

Vara, Vauhini.  The Immortal King Rao.
In this alternative history of big tech, an Indian immigrant comes to the U.S. in the 1970s and invents a software and social network system that eventually dominates the world. His story is recounted by his daughter, a member of the resistance to his powerful company.

Wiley, Soon.  When We Fell Apart.  
After a young woman commits suicide in Seoul, South Korea, one of her friends, who doesn't believe she would kill herself, tries to find out what really happened.

Zhang, Jenny Tinghui.  Four Treasures of the Sky.
In this historical novel set in the western United States in the late 19th century, a teenaged girl in China is kidnaped and sold to a brothel in San Francisco. Helped by a client, she flees to Idaho, but is unable to escape the anti-Chinese racism and violence of the time. Ebook, downloadable audiobook