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Beyond Bestsellers - Fiction, Winter 2018

January - March 2018 Issue


See also:

Alderman, Naomi.  The Power
In this dystopian science fiction novel, young women discover their bodies have the power to produce deadly electric charges, and become powerful all over the world, but their power corrupts them.

Allende, Isabel.  In the Midst of Winter.  
After a blizzard in Brooklyn leads to a car accident, two professors help a young woman from Guatemala dispose of a corpse that had been locked in the trunk of her employer’s car.

Banville, John.  Mrs. Osmond.   
In this sequel to Henry James’s novel, The Portrait of a Lady, the heroine, who has realized she should never have married her arrogant and mercenary husband, makes plans to become free of him.

Binet, Laurent.  The Seventh Function of Language.   
In this literary mystery, a police superintendent and a linguist team up to investigate the suspicious death of French literary theorist.

Carrasco, Jesús.  Out in the Open
In a drought-ravaged wasteland, a boy who has run away from his father makes friends with an elderly goatherd, and they bond as they struggle to survive.

Cassara, Joseph.  The House of Impossible Beauties
This novel, set in New York’s “Ballroom Community,” a gay subculture in the 1980’s, tells the story of four young transgender people who find a home together.

Clemmons, Zinzi.  What We Lose.  
A college student with a South African mother and an American father struggles to resolve her conflicts over her racial identity, which becomes only more difficult after her mother dies of cancer.

Dee, Jonathan.  The Locals.  
The residents of a small blue-collar town in Massachusetts, including a construction worker who loses his life savings to a con man, struggle to pursue the American Dream during the tumultuous years of the 2000s.

Diaz, Hernán.  In the Distance.  
Two Swedish men set off to immigrate to America, but become separated on the trip; one lands in San Francisco and tries to go to New York to find his brother, but constant danger turns him into an outlaw with an outsized reputation for violence.

Doyle, Roddy.  Smile.  
After a failed writer and his celebrity chef wife separate, he goes back to his hometown, encounters a man who remembers him from their school days, and starts looking back on his life.

García, Cristina.  Here in Berlin.  
An unnamed visitor walks the streets of Berlin, learning German, and listening to people’s stories as she builds her understanding of the city, the residents who endured the horrors of World War II and its aftermath, and herself.

Gelman, Laurie.  Class Mom
In this comedy, an older woman, with a deep vein of sarcasm, becomes a room parent for her youngest child’s kindergarten class in Kansas City.

Halasa, Malu.  Mother of All Pigs
This is the story of a large Jordanian family who live near the Syrian border, including a butcher-shop owner who buys a pig to breed and to furnish pork to his non-Moslem customers. 

Hoffman, Alice.  The Rules of Magic
This prequel to the author’s novel, Practical Magic, tells the story of the childhood and youth of the two Owens sisters and their brother, as they learn to use their magical powers and discover the family curse which will cause disaster for anyone who falls in love with one of them.

Hornak, Francesca.  Seven Days of Us.    
A medical worker returns home, after working among people with a life-threatening communicable disease in Africa, causing her whole family to be quarantined with her for one week.

Kelman, James.  Dirt Road
After the death of a Scottish teenager’s mother, he and his father visit relatives in Alabama, where the boy discovers African-American music, and begins to think of staying in America.

Kingsnorth, Paul.  Beast.  
In this second book of a trilogy written in stream-of-consciousness style, the protagonist, who has abandoned his family to live as a hermit, becomes obsessed with a mysterious beast.

Lagioia, Nicola.  Ferocity
A man who has always been an outsider in his family believes that his half-sister’s sudden violent death was not suicide, and questions everyone who knew her in his pursuit of the truth.

Machado, Carmen Maria.  Her Body and Other Parties.  (short stories)  
This is a collection of short stories that explore women’s sexuality in forceful and imaginative ways.

McGregor, Jon.  Reservoir 13
A 13-year old girl disappears from an English village; over the next 13 years, the seasons turn and people go about their lives, remembering her, as the mystery goes unsolved.

McKibben, Bill. Radio Free Vermont.   
In this satire, a group of Vermonters, led by a seventy-year old eccentric, set out to make their state secede from the Union.

Mukherjee, Neel.  A State of Freedom.  
This novel set in contemporary India has five sections, each devoted to one character who is trying to change his or her life for the better.

Pamuk, Orhan.  The Red-Haired Woman.   
A young middle-class Turkish man, whose father, a Marxist, has disappeared, apprentices himself to a well-digger, and falls in love with a beautiful red-haired woman.

Pearl, Nancy.  George & Lizzie.  
A young woman who grew up in a loveless home, and tried to get her parents’ attention by sleeping with all of the starters on her high school football team, later marries a man she doesn’t love.

Rushdie, Salman.  The Golden House.   
An American filmmaker living in Manhattan becomes curious about his new neighbors from India, a wealthy old man named Golden and his three sons, who come to live near him during the Obama administration.

Senna, Danzy.  New People.  
The “New People” in this novel are two biracial Stanford graduates who live together in Brooklyn, and seem headed for comfortable success until the woman becomes obsessed with a black man.

Sexton, Margaret Wilkerson.  A Kind of Freedom
This novel, set in New Orleans and focusing on race and class, portrays 70 years of history through the story of three generations of one family.

Smith, Gregory Blake.  The Maze at Windermere
This novel, set in Newport, Rhode Island, presents the stories of five characters who live and fall in love in different time periods from the Colonial era to the present.

Weil, Josh.  The Age of Perpetual Light: Stories.  
This is a collection of eight short stories, with a wide variety of subject matter and styles, but all preoccupied with light and its effect on the various characters.

Williams, David.  When the English Fall.  
An Amish farmer in Pennsylvania writes in his diary about what happens to the outside “English” world when climate change and a solar storm destroy the power grid.

Yan, Lianke.  The Years, Months, Days.   
This book contains two novellas; one is about an old man living alone with his blind dog and trying to survive heat, drought, and hunger; the other is about a widowed woman who is desperate to provide for her disabled children.