Is there anyone who hasn’t wondered which actions and incidents most gave shape to their lives? In Tessa Hadley’s Clever Girl, Stella is the author of her own life, recounting her story in a series of gracefully drawn but honestly expressed episodes starting in the 1960s and running to the present day.
The death that launches Yiyun Li’s second novel, Kinder Than Solitude, has been a long time coming. Twenty years before, Shaoai was mysteriously poisoned by someone close to her, leaving her crippled and diminished. Her death comes as a great relief for the novel’s three main characters, Moran, Ruyu and Boyang—once childhood friends in China, but now estranged. But with that sigh of relief comes the truth.
Here’s the first thing you should know about Helen Oyeyemi: She’s got a soft spot for twisted fairy tales. Her widely acclaimed first novel, The Icarus Girl, drew from both African and Western mythology to tell the story of a biracial 8-year-old and her wicked secret friend.
Not unlike Frankenstein, that other Gothic masterwork of the 19th century, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde—originally published in 1886—is a surprisingly slight book whose enduring impact has far outstripped its original ambitions. At barely a hundred pages, it is a quickly read novella, as noteworthy for what is left unsaid as for what is portrayed. This classic good vs. evil fable has provided the template and inspiration for an array of adaptations and interpretations over the last century and a quarter. The latest is Hyde, Daniel Levine’s ambitious and imaginative literary debut.
Three of our favorite books of 2013 are now available in paperback, including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's astounding third novel. These books are guaranteed to delight and spark discussion in your reading group.
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.
Patrick Ness has made a well-deserved name for himself in the realm of young adult fiction, where he’s crafted magical tales full of sensitivity and raw emotional energy. With The Crane Wife, he brings all of those talents to a story for adults, and the result is a viscerally beautiful, subtly magical and instantly memorable realistic fairy tale that will linger in your brain.
Three of the best books of 2013 are now available in paperback—and guaranteed to delight your reading group. Spanning the globe from Texas to Italy to Chechnya, these memorable stories are sure to spark discussion.
The surprising source of Bich Minh Nguyen’s enthralling second novel, Pioneer Girl, was her discovery that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter Rose had traveled to Vietnam as a journalist in 1965.
Nguyen (pronounced New-win), whose family fled Vietnam in 1975 when she was 8 months old and settled eventually in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says she “had read the Little House on the Prairie books when I was a kid, and I loved them. And I would reread them as an adult as comfort literature."
A Kafkaesque premise rests at the center of Jesse Ball’s intriguing fourth novel, Silence Once Begun. Oda Sotatsu, a 29-year-old man, is arrested in Osaka for his involvement in the disappearance of eight elderly people. The police have a signed confession from Oda, and he refuses to speak in his own defense. Indeed, he refuses to speak at all. But, as readers, we know that Oda did not commit the crime: He has signed the confession having lost a wager made with another man, Sato Kakuzo, and the man’s girlfriend, Jito Joo. Why has Oda admitted to something he didn’t do, and why is he willing to die for it?