Mona Simpson’s sixth novel, Casebook, visits the country of divorce through the eyes of California teenager and Sherlock Holmes wannabe, Miles Adler-Hart. Aided by his sidekick Hector (living through the aftermath of his own parents’ breakup), Miles recounts their earnest, if often fumbling, effort to make sense of the emotional disturbance that inevitably surrounds even the most amicable end of a marriage and the survivors’ halting attempts to rebuild their lives. Simpson brings this all off with style, blending pathos with humor to create an appealing story.
Even if your religious education didn’t extend beyond Sunday school, you’re probably at least vaguely familiar with the biblical book of Jonah, the reluctant prophet who visits the belly of a big fish. Loosely building on that spare and enigmatic narrative, debut novelist Joshua Max Feldman has produced an affecting contemporary retelling of the tale, plausibly revealing what it might be like for a thoroughly modern man to find himself touched by the hand of God.