Few novels manage to be both coy and brusquely honest, uproarious and profoundly affecting. Even fewer are about teeth—and yet Mexican author Valeria Luiselli’s second work of fiction, The Story of My Teeth, is all of the above. But even more so, this eccentric work is about stories themselves.
Susan Barker’s daring new novel, The Incarnations, begins in 2008, just months before the opening of the Beijing Olympics. The city is grimy and polluted behind the burst of new construction. After nights spent in the dense traffic of the city’s multiple ring roads, taxi driver Wang returns home exhausted to his wife and daughter. A rare visit with his invalid father and vicious stepmother, an aging femme fatale, doesn’t add much pleasure to Wang’s already lonely existence, but things take a turn for the bizarre when an anonymous letter, tucked into the visor of his cab, assures Wang that he is the reincarnated soul mate of the sender.
Jean Perdu is a self-described literary apothecary. From his barge-turned-bookshop on the Seine, he doesn’t just sell books; he prescribes them as a pharmacist prescribes medicines, matching books to their perfect readers to help customers overcome life’s difficulties. And he does so with near perfect success. The only exception to the rule is Perdu himself.
What happens when a book meets its perfect reader at precisely the right moment? For the narrator of The Library of Unrequited Love, a librarian who has witnessed many such encounters during her lifetime, her heart flutters.
A victim of a violent post-apartheid attack narrates from beyond the grave Miranda Sherry's unnerving debut novel Black Dog Summer, named for the "black dog" as an ill omen in local folklore.
When Maija, her husband Paavo, and her daughters, Frederika and Dorotea, pack up their lives in Finland and head west to the Swedish Lapland in 1717, they were hoping for a fresh start, a clean break from the losses and the disappointments in their homeland.
A sobbing 4-year-old bride. A disinterested 12-year-old groom. Married in a rural Indian village 20 years ago at the behest of a tyrannical grandfather, this couple doesn’t seem destined for a happily ever after. That is, unless you ask Mili Rathod, the irrepressible heroine of Sonali Dev’s charming debut novel, A Bollywood Affair.
Russian-born Alina Bronsky made a splash with 2011’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, with praise from sources as varied as The Daily Beast and the Financial Times. She’s back with a third novel, Just Call Me Superhero, serving up more biting wit and a no-frills style that readers can eat up in big, satisfying chunks.
“Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam, we’ve all been there.” So says war correspondent Michael Herr on the persistent reality of a war curiously prone to re-examination. In The Lotus and the Storm, by Vietnamese-American author Lan Cao, this revisiting takes the form of a dialogue of sorts between a daughter and a father, lotuses swept to America’s shores by the storm of the American intervention.
Much like J.K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin, best-selling author Haruki Murakami is the type of writer whose fans queue up at bookstores at midnight, clamoring to be the first to get their hands on his latest book. Unfortunately, people who do not read Japanese have had to wait quite some time to read Murakami’s latest, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, which was published to acclaim in Japan in April 2013.