Enjoying the summer releases somewhere warm? Well, once these sunny days start getting shorter and temperatures begin to drop, you can be consoled by the knowledge that there's excellent reading heading your way.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Random House). Pessl's debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, became the talk of 2006 and went on to sell nearly 200,000 copies in hardcover. Has Pessl generated another bestseller and avoided the dreaded sophomore slump? Our money’s on “yes,” but we can’t wait to crack the covers and find out.
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (Viking). Author of Me Before You, Jojo Moyes is back with another heartbreaking story of love and loss that links two women separated by nearly a century. (read more)
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally (Atria). From the author of Schindler’s List, this is the story of two courageous sisters from Australia who enlist as nurses during World War I.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury). Early champions of this novel, first in a seven-book series, include Ali Smith and the actor Andy Serkis, who has already optioned the film rights. Though Shannon’s dystopian world can be brutal, the magical elements and tough teenage heroine guarantee YA-crossover potential—and the author herself, who studied English at Oxford, is just 22 years old. (read more)
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (Riverhead). From the best-selling author of Song Yet Sung is the new story of a young slave who escapes from an abusive slave master with John Brown, the radical abolitionist. Brown believes that he is a girl, and he must hide that secret to stay safe.
After Her by Joyce Maynard (Morrow). The new novel from the journalist and best-selling author of Labor Day and The Good Daughters is set in the summer of 1979 in Northern California, where sisters Rachel and Patty are largely left to their own devices by their distracted mother and perpetually cheating, yet charming, detective father. But when murdered girls begin turning up in the mountains near their home, Rachel and her father embark on separate quests to solve the case.
The Returned by Jason Mott (MIRA). What would you do if someone you loved and lost showed up at your door? That's the premise behind Mott's anticipated debut, which is being adapted for television already.
Claire of the Sea-Light by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf). Danticat's lyrical latest is set in small-town Haiti, where the disappearance of a young girl unites the lives of the residents.
The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd (Picador). Five years after her husband's death, Celia has created a safe, solitary life in her Brooklyn brownstone—until a new neighbor tests the boundaries. Now Celia and the other tenants are being forced out of their safe spaces. Loyd is the former fiction editor of Playboy, and her debut is both provocative and intelligent.
The Road from Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (Shannon Ravenel). Taking us back to Appalachia, Morgan continues the story of his beloved characters from his best-selling novel Gap Creek.
Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit). The author of the Mars trilogy and 2312 returns with the story of a young man's inspiring story of how we lived 30,000 years ago.
Moonrise by Cassandra King (Hyperion). Author of the best-selling novels The Same Sweet Girls and The Sunday Wife brings another novel of dark shadows and friendships set in the mountain retreat, Moonrise, known for its nightly glowing gardens.
Duplex by Kathryn Davis (Graywolf). Davis' imagination is vast and curious, and her latest novel is both mind-bending and lyrical.
The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell (Little, Brown). Set in his hometown, the book was inspired by a 1926 dancehall tragedy whose true cause remains a mystery—and whose legacy still haunts the small town today. Was it an accident, or something more sinister? Woodrell is the perfect author to take on this small-town American story.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Little, Brown). As a teenager, Australian Kent went on an exchange to Iceland and discovered the story of Agnes, a servant woman who was executed for murder in the 1820s—the last person, in fact, to be executed in Iceland. Kent has spent the last 10 years piecing together Agnes' story, which finally came together in a book that she calls a “dark love letter” to Iceland.
Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush (Knopf). In Rush's first novel to be set in the U.S., a group of college friends come together 20 years after graduation in this depiction of the trials and joys of marriage and friendship.
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink (Crown). In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, several elderly patients at a New Orleans hospital were designated the last to be rescued, and subsequently died. Did their doctors hasten their deaths, or end their misery? Pulitzer Prize winner Fink tells the true story of what happened at Memorial Medical Center.
Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday). Centering on two strong women, Lethem creates a decade-spanning story of radical families chasing the American dream.
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford (Ballantine). The author of the bestseller Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet sets his second novel in 1920s and 1930s Seattle, where a lonely young boy looks for the mother he longs for. (read more)
Someone: A Novel by Alice McDermott (FSG). Subtle and tender, this is the story of one Brooklyn woman's life—a life that runs the course of much of the 20th century.
Enon by Paul Harding (Random House). Tinkers was the dark horse winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. Will Harding hit the bestseller list a second time?
Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III (Norton). From the award-winning author of House of Sand and Fog, this collection of four novellas expresses tenderness and vulnerability of people seeking fulfillment in the wrong places.
Sister Mother Husband Dog by Delia Ephron (Blue Rider Press). Beloved screenwriter Ephron offers a collection of essays and personal stories both poignant and hilarious, including a remembrance of her late sister, Nora Ephron.
Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin Press). The famously reclusive author’s latest is set in New York City just after 9/11, a time “not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we’ve journeyed to since,” as the publisher puts it. (read more)
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury). Ward, whose novel Salvage the Bones won the 2011 National Book Award for fiction, now offers a memoir about the deaths of several beloved men in her life. This won't be an easy read, but for those who are interested in poverty and racism in America, it will be an essential one.
Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan (Viking). Back with a new novel, Terry McMillan provides a colorful cast of characters trying to survive Los Angeles.
The Quest by Nelson DeMille (Grand Central). An unlikely group of travelers are given the secret location of the Holy Grail—and set off on a dangerous journey.
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf). Lahiri's tale of two brothers whose lives take drastically different paths is an exploration of the toll of idealism. (read more)
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Scribner). It's a sequel to King's 1977 classic horror story, The Shining. Do you really need to know more to get on board?
Local Souls by Allan Gurganus (Liveright). Gurganus brings his discerning eye and dark humor to bear on the modern-day South in this long-awaited story.
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (Little, Brown). Kent leaves colonial Massachusetts to explore 1800s Texas with a new novel starring a hooker who, refreshingly, lacks the proverbial heart of gold.
Book of Ages by Jill Lepore (Knopf). Both Benjamin Franklin and his youngest sister, Jane, were bright and inquisitive people with deeply held political convictions. Benjamin Franklin became one of America's Founding Fathers; Jane Franklin became the mother of 12 children. Lepore investigates Jane's life in a book that will surely cast new light on the debate about women, work, motherhood, politics and ambition.
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking). Gilbert's first novel in years is the story of the Whitaker family—and of a century of scientific discovery, wonder and change.
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown). In a new book about "underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants" (as the subtitle puts it), Gladwell explores the relationship between the weak and the strong, and explains how our advantages and disadvantages can shape us—but perhaps not in the ways we think.
The Tilted World by Beth Ann Fennelly & Tom Franklin (Morrow). Set in 1927 Mississippi, there is a lot more to be found around the rising waters than two missing agents last seen tracking down bootleggers.
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (Doubleday). Bryson turns his attention (and his sharp wit) to a formative year in America's history, when Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone and Herbert Hoover (among others) shared the national spotlight.
The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble (HMH). In her first novel in five years, Drabble presents the hard choices and struggles of a single mother as told through the eyes of the supportive mothers around her.
The Hired Man by Aminetta Forna (Grove). An Englishwoman arrives in a small Croatian village, unaware that her arrival will stir up some unpleasant memories of the civil war that lurk beneath the town's charming surface.
The Rosie Chronicles by Grahaem Simison (St. Martin's). This anticipated first novel is told in the voice of an Asperger's-stricken professor who sets out to find the perfect wife—only to find a woman who upsets all his plans.
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (Grove). Based on the 17th-century witchcraft trials at Pendle Hill, this atmospheric novella will deliver Halloween chills.
Longbourn by Jo Baker (Knopf). In today’s modern world, it’s impossible to go too long without a new take on the enduring classic Pride and Prejudice. British author Baker puts a new twist on the story by telling it from the point of view of the Bennett family’s servants. (read more)
Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles (Harper). Jiles, known for her historical fiction, strikes new ground in a future-set tale. Orphaned Nadia Stepan, unhappy with life in this dystopic urban world, strikes out for a possibly mythical island in the Pacific Northwest.
Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois (Random House). DuBois' anticipated second novel is loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox. Entitled, intelligent, charming and a bit careless, American Lily Hayes becomes the prime suspect in her roommate's murder during a semester abroad in Argentina. (read more)
Top Down by Jim Lehrer (Random House). The latest from Lehrer is about the secret service agent who decided to let JFK ride with the top down in Dallas—a nice fictional counterpoint to the deluge of nonfiction books coming out this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination.
Focus by Daniel Goleman (Harper). The author of Emotional Intelligence gives readers more food for thought as he discusses the importance of attention and what we can do to sharpen our own mental faculties.
Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips (Scribner). Based on the real-life serial killer who preyed on widows in the 1930s, this novel is sure to send shivers up your spine.
The Family by David Laskin (Viking). Laskin explores the history of the 20th century through the three branches of his own Jewish family. From their roots in Russia, two of the three branches emigrated—one to America and one to Palestine—while one remained in Europe and faced the horrors of the Holocaust.
The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice (Knopf). With her popular Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice created one of the most influential modern retellings of the vampire mythology. Now, Rice turns her masterful storytelling skills to another classic monster: the werewolf.
Identical by Scott Turow (Grand Central). In this tangle of a mystery, two twins with very different lives are drawn back into an investigation of their young neighbor's murder from 25 years ago.
The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester (Harper). Winchester's first book about America focuses on the men who explored, surveyed and connected the far-flung and highly varied states that make up our union, and asks us to consider whether or not we have truly accomplished the goal of uniting the States.
The Last Dark: The Climax of the Entire Thomas the Covenant Chronicles by Stephen R. Donaldson (Putnam). The conclusion to the long-lasting fantasy series, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery must stop the Worm of World's End from unraveling Time.
Guests on Earth by Lee Smith (Shannon Ravenel). Smith weaves a compelling story explaining the mysterious fire of Asheville's Highland Hospital, the mental institute where Zelda Fitzgerald and eight others mysteriously died.
Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding (Knopf). This fall, Fielding is bringing Bridget back for a modern-day adventure, which we assume will involve facing middle age with the same comic insight that she brought to being a “singleton.” (read more)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown). Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, was a huge bestseller and an instant classic when it was published in 1992—her third novel is set in the art world of New York City and is sure to draw attention. (read more)
Sycamore Row by John Grisham (Doubleday). Nearly 25 years ago, Grisham’s debut legal thriller, A Time to Kill, introduced readers to a fearless, entertaining storyteller. Grisham’s new novel, Sycamore Row, is the sequel to this unforgettable story, as good-guy attorney Jack Brigance continues his unwavering pursuit of justice, once again taking on the prejudices of a small Southern town.
We Are Water by Wally Lamb (Harper). Capturing the spirit of the American culture, Lamb tells a humorous story of family, social norms and the search for the meaning of life.
Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope (Harper). What would the story of Eleanor and Marianne be like in today's world? Trollope answers that question in a humorous and enjoyable tribute to Austen.
At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón (Riverhead). In the second, anticipated novel from this talented young writer, things are finally going right for Nelson until betrayal and secrets begin to threaten his theatrical success.
The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster). Goodwin's latest biography focuses on the relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Roosevelt had handpicked Taft as his political successor, but when Taft compromised many of Roosevelt's most cherished beliefs, Roosevelt ran against him for the presidency—a decision with consequences that still echo in our own time.
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (Ecco). It’s been eight long years since Tan published Saving Fish from Drowning. Her next full-length novel is about three generations of Chinese and Chinese-American women whose lives are linked by a painting, and is set in San Francisco and Shanghai over the course of some 50 years.
The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani (Harper). Back with another delicious novel, Trigiani presents the partnerships of old and new world values in a family business based on love and laughter.
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (Harper). Novelist Patchett, who gained many new readers with her memoir Truth & Beauty, returns to the nonfiction form with this collection of essays, which explore "her deepest commitments: to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband."
The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fanny Flagg (Random House). From the author of Fried Green Tomatoes, we return to the South to explore the relationships between mothers and daughters.
The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom (Harper). What would you do if your neighbor got a phone call from heaven? Would you believe it? That's the premise of Albom's latest book, and his first with new publisher HarperCollins. (read more)
Stella Bain by Anita Shreve (Little, Brown). Set during World War I, the importance of memory is explored as one nurse's aid discovers her memories gone after being injured on the battlefield.
Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith (S&S). Sleuth Arkady Renko investigates the seemingly unconnected murders of two people in modern Russia.
Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (Harper). Jackson is known for her insightful, humorous and heartfelt take on the modern world. In her latest novel—her first with Morrow—she tells the story of a woman who falls in love with the wrong man before discovering the right one.
Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich (Random House). Stephanie Plum is back again and being joined by all of her previous cohorts.
Elizabeth Gilbert, the New York Times best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, is back this October with her first novel in 12 years. Beautifully researched, Gilbert brings life to the Age of Enlightenment in a full-immersion reading experience that promises to be another inspiring story of faith, love and discovery.
Spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, The Signature of All Things begins with Henry Whittaker, who has risen from the bottom to become the richest man in Philadelphia after sailing the world with Captain Cook. His daughter, Alma, becomes a talented botanist with a strictly scientific mind. While working on her studies, Alma meets Ambrose Pike. An artist of beautiful orchids, Ambrose has the potential to show Alma a world of art and beauty that she has long ignored.
To learn more about the inspiration of Gilbert's latest novel, watch Viking's book trailer below.
What do you think, readers? Will you be reading The Signature of All Things?
It's a bit unusual for a literary debut to be followed by a sophomore novel the very next year. But in a world where attention spans are short, publishers seem reluctant to trust that their audience will remember even a standout debut a couple of years hence.
Or at least, that's one of the things that could be implied by the appearance of these two second novels from authors who made acclaimed debuts in early 2012. Both are following up on their success this fall, with books that are quite different from their previous work.
First up is Patrick Flanery, whose first novel, Absolution, was our Fiction Top Pick in April 2012. Set in South Africa, the book was a beautifully crafted, complicated moral tale of memory, guilt and the impossibility of truth that our reviewer called "literary fiction of the finest kind."
Flanery's second novel, Fallen Land, which will be published by Riverhead Books on August 15, is equally suspenseful and layered, but has a completely different setting: America, after the economic collapse. The financial fallout costs Paul Krovik his life as he knows it. Forced to sell his house, Paul moves into an adjoining bunker—unbeknownst to the family who buy the foreclosed home. Their destinies converge in a remarkable and shocking way as Flanery plumbs the depths of the failed American Dream.
Then there's Jennifer duBois, whose sophisticated first novel, The Partial History of Lost Causes, was published in March 2012. By combining the stories of two very different main characters, each facing their own personal lost cause, duBois was able to explore complicated questions about hope and the human spirit. Why do we continue even in the face of impossible odds? (read an excerpt here)
In October, Random House will release duBois' second book, Cartwheel. Like Fallen Land, it's a big departure from her debut. Loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox, Cartwheel is a psychological thriller. Entitled, intelligent, charming and a bit careless, American exchange student Lily Hayes plans to spend her semester abroad soaking up the culture and nightlife of Buenos Aires and perfecting her Mexican-restaurant Spanish. She shares an apartment and a host family with Katy Kellers. From her perfect hair to her "platonic ideal" teeth, contained, driven and regimented Katy seems to be the opposite of Lily in every way. Five weeks after her arrival in Argentina, Katy is murdered, and Lily is the prime suspect. In chapters that alternate between before and after the murder, and are seen through the eyes of Lily, her parents and the prosecutor who takes on her case, readers discover the history of the roommates and must decide whether Lily is guilty.
Did you catch these authors' debuts? Which follow-up sounds most interesting?
Have you finished The Hunger Games trilogy? Read your Harry Potter books to pieces? Been through the His Dark Materials novels too many times to count? Well, this fall, there's a new post-apocalyptic series in town. It's ambitious, complex—and the brainchild of an author who was still at university when she finished the first book.
The Bone Season will be published by Bloomsbury on August 20, and the buzz is already building. It's the first in a projected seven-book series from Samantha Shannon, a 21-year-old who has just graduated from Oxford University, and it's already been optioned for film by Imaginarium Studios. Set in 2059 Britain, a world where psychic abilities are commonplace—and illegal—the book stars 19-year-old Paige Mahoney. Part Lisbeth Salander, part Oliver Twist, Paige is part of an underground gang of clairvoyants who try to undermine the authority of the security force currently in charge of the country, Scion.
But when Paige's rare dreamwalking talent is revealed, she is captured and thrown into a prison colony in Oxford, a city that most believe has been destroyed. Oxford is the realm of the Rephaim, powerful, magical beings whom even Scion fear. And that's just the beginning of the discoveries for our heroine, who develops a complicated relationship with the Rephaim who is charged with her care.
If you couldn't tell by this description, there's a LOT going on in The Bone Season. But though complicated, Shannon's world is meticulously detailed and has a strong internal logic that becomes clear to the patient reader. And while you wait for that to kick in, there's plenty of entertaining action—the pace of The Bone Season seldom slacks off, and the strong and resourceful Paige is a memorable heroine. Early days yet, but this is one buzz book that just might merit its hype. You can watch a trailer for the book here. Will you pick this one up?
Related content: Samantha Shannon was one of our 2013 Women to Watch.
It's been seven years since McDermott published After This, and fans have been eager for another novel from the insightful, lyrical American author, who won the 1998 National Book Award for Charming Billy.
Her new novel, Someone, will be published by FSG on September 10. Subtle and tender, it's the story of one Brooklyn woman's life, a life that runs the course of much of the 20th century. Her loves and heartbreaks, gains and losses, are all deftly chronicled by McDermott as she traces Marie's life with sympathy and insight.
Says the publisher: "This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today."
Will you read it? What books are you most looking forward to this fall?
Mitch Albom—novelist and author of the most tear-jerking memoir of all time, Tuesdays with Morrie—is publishing a new book on November 12 with a new publisher, HarperCollins, just one year after his last novel, The Time Keeper. As usual, The First Phone Call from Heaven has an unusual premise (bet you can guess it from the title!). Here's how Albom describes the book on his site:
It's a magical story about what happens when one little town, way up north, starts getting calls from souls in heaven. Who believes, who doesn't? Who flocks to join them? Who points fingers and calls them fools? And ultimately, what happens to the world when the biggest mystery of life seems suddenly solved?
Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt
St. Martin's • $25.99 • ISBN 9781250020833
On sale August 20
When a book is likened to A Confederacy of Dunces—one of the most brilliant, hilarious books ever written, in my opinion—I inevitably experience an initial spark of excitement, which is promptly dampened by a fog of pessimism. It was with this ambivalence that I recently cracked open Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt.
Jerene is the polished matriarch of the Johnston family in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her husband, Duke, is a descendant of an infamous Confederate general; her brother, Gaston, is a successful crack novelist bitter at not being among the literary elite; her sister, Dillard, is practically a recluse. And then there are Jerene's four children. Jerilyn is the focus of the beginning of the novel. It's 2003, and she's a freshman at Chapel Hill, hell-bent on breaking out from her studious, reserved high school persona and joining—against her mother's wishes—the wildest sorority on campus with the very retro intention of finding a husband before graduating.
All of this is leading up to a scandal of some sort that I can't wait to get to. In the meantime, I've been disrupting the silence in a couple of coffeeshops with my snickering. The humor is wicked, sharp and subversive—which is just the way I like it.
Here's an excerpt offering insight into Jerilyn's aching desire to get accepted into Sigma Kappa Nu, which her roommate aptly describes as all about "drugs, booze, and boys!"
[Jerilyn] would turn the page on decorum-blighted Jerilyn Johnston. She knew that the PG-13 summer-movie sorority stereotype of the wild, hot girls, barely contained in clothes for all the suds and water that came their way, and the male-model-hot fraternity stud, beer in one hand, cell phone in the other, hooking up with the girls like a harem—she knew all that was a cartoon image of sorority life, but it was precisely the movie stereotype she was curious about; she now wanted to immerse herself in this too shallow pool. And if a frat brother was a cad, two-timing her with another sister, if there was face-slapping and tears and throwing herself into his frat brother roommate's arms . . . wasn't that all Life? Excitement, drama, action? For once, someone should say, That Jerilyn Johnston! Back at Carolina, she was a wild one! And everyone knows these frat boys eventually knuckle under, pass the bar, say yes to being in their dad's law firm, partner in eight years. God, it was all going according to plan!
What do you think, readers? Will you be reading Lookaway, Lookaway? What are you reading this week?
Knopf announced this morning that the heretofore "Untitled Bridget Jones Novel" is called Mad About the Boy.
For those of you who hoped the title reveal would give a hint of the book's contents, I'm afraid there's only disappointment in store: "When asked which boy Bridget was mad about, Fielding merely raised one eyebrow enigmatically," quoth the press release—which also included a short, unrevealing excerpt.
Wednesday 24 October 201211.27 p.m. Just presss d SEND. Iss fineisn’t it?You see, this is the trouble with the modern world. If it was the days of letter-writing, I would never even have started to find his address, a pen, a piece of paper, an envelope, a stamp, and gone outside at 11.30p.m. to find a postbox. A text is gone at the brush of a fingertip, like a nuclear bomb or exocet missile.DATING RULE NO:1DO NOT TEXT WHEN DRUNK
Was it the intimidating triple name? The comparisons to serious authors like Achebe? The preconception that books about Africa were likely to be on the grim side? Whatever the reason, despite the literary buzz surrounding Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I had somehow placed her in the category of authors I might admire, but probably wouldn't love. At least, until I cracked open her latest, Americanah, a completely enjoyable novel that's full of heart as well as ideas and features a realistic, relatable modern heroine: Nigerian-born Ifemelu. Given its trenchant observations on race and immigration, you might call Americanah the American White Teeth, although Adichie's novel (her third) demonstrates more maturity and less exuberance than Zadie Smith's notable debut.
As Americanah opens, Ifemelu has decided to return to Nigeria after being educated in the United Sates, and finds herself remembering the boy she left behind: her first love, Obinze. Ifemelu has spent much of her time in America writing a popular blog on race, Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (those formerly known as Negros) by a Non-American Black, so her observational powers are finely honed. Here, she contemplates her fellow train passengers:
So here she was, on a day filled with the opulence of summer, about to braid her hair for the journey home. Sticky heat sat on her skin. There were people thrice her size on the Trenton platform, and she looked admiringly at one of them, a woman in a very short skirt. She thought nothing of slender legs shown off in miniskirts—it was safe and easy, after all, to display legs of which the world approved—but the fat woman's act was about the quiet conviction that one shared only with oneself, a sense of rightness that others failed to see. Her decision to move back was similar; whenever she felt besieged by doubts, she would think of herself as standing valiantly alone, as almost heroic, so as to squash her uncertainty.
There's much more to love: Adichie's depictions of modern Lagos, her portrait of life as an undocumented immigrant, her exploration of why someone who lived in a country that wasn't facing starvation or genocide, but simply a lack of opportunity, might be willing to risk all for a chance in the West—I could go on, but I'll stop there and just tell you to pick this one up already. What are you reading this week?
RELATED IN BOOKPAGE: Our review of Americanah.
Today's the day: Dan Brown's Inferno (Doubleday) is keeping readers busy everywhere. Our reviewer is frantically turning pages, but there have been a couple of early, entertaining pieces going 'round the web:
"How to Deal with Dan Brown's 'Inferno' " from The Atlantic:
You will see Inferno in a pile at your local bookstore, laughing in your face. You will hear about Inferno around the water cooler. Your mom will ask you, "Have you read this book, Fernono-something-or other, you know, by The Da Vinci Code guy? I like that Tom Hanks!" You may even read Inferno yourself, whether at the behest of an angry albino monk or because you you simply want to. . . . More important than whether you read it or not is knowing you have options. If you're wondering what they are, read on.
“Hello agent John, it’s client Dan,” commented the pecunious scribbler. “I’m worried about new book Inferno. I think critics are going to say it’s badly written.”
The voice at the other end of the line gave a sigh, like a mighty oak toppling into a great river, or something else that didn’t sound like a sigh if you gave it a moment’s thought. “Who cares what the stupid critics say?” advised the literary agent. “They’re just snobs. You have millions of fans.”
That’s true, mused the accomplished composer of thrillers that combined religion, high culture and conspiracy theories. His books were read by everyone from renowned politician President Obama to renowned musician Britney Spears. It was said that a copy of The Da Vinci Code had even found its way into the hands of renowned monarch the Queen. He was grateful for his good fortune, and gave thanks every night in his prayers to renowned deity God.
Alex: First, this woman missed her cat, Dustin. Her cat!!!! Would you keep this woman from her cat? It probably has an adorable name like Señor Mittens and is cute.
Second, all these people were allowed to do was eat and sleep and translate Dan Brown—literally the best part of the experience was translating Dan Brown. That is horrible.
Dustin: Exactly. Sleeping in a hotel sounds pretty good. Food: sounds fine. What part of this equation might be so bad that it’s led these people to share their harrowing stories with the media?
[T]he main emphasis here is hardly on gloom. It is on the prodigious research and love of trivia that inform Mr. Brown’s stories (this one makes mincemeat of all those factoid-heavy wannabes, like Matthew Pearl’s “Dante Club”), the ease with which he sets them in motion, the nifty tricks (Dante’s plaster death mask is pilfered from its museum setting, then toted through the secret passageways of Florence in a Ziploc bag) and the cliffhangers. (Sienna: “Don’t tell me we’re in the wrong museum.” Robert: “Sienna, we’re in the wrong country.”) There is the gamesmanship that goes with crypto-bits like “PPPPPPP.” (Sienna: “Seven Ps is ... a message?” Robert, grinning: “It is. And if you’ve studied Dante, it’s a very clear one.”)