When an author begins a novel with “And then there was the day”—as Kent Haruf begins Our Souls at Night, a brief, final testament completed shortly before his death last November—you know he knows we know what he’s talking about. This is Holt, Colorado.
The Rocks, the second novel by Peter Nichols, has everything you’d hope for in a great beach read: a vivid Mediterranean setting, complicated entanglements, adventures at sea, some hanky-panky and a little heartbreak. But its sunny exterior conceals some sharp observations on human vulnerability and how easily self-preservation can calcify into mere selfishness.
In Dietland, timid Plum Kettle is sure that losing weight is the key that will unlock the life she wants to live. But when she crosses paths with a mysterious young woman, she ends up involved in a full-on riot grrl ride to a feminist awakening. Sarai Walker answers a few questions about her edgy, girl-power debut.
Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s second novel, Balm, follows a group of refugees who meet in the bustling, reeking and bewildering city of Chicago.
No book will ever make you thirstier than The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi’s (The Windup Girl) action-packed return to hard science fiction, in which the American Southwest is ravaged by drought.
The setting of Sara Taylor’s ambitious and unique debut novel is The Shore—three islands off the coast of Virginia, just south of Maryland, “trailing out into the Atlantic Ocean like someone’s dripped paint.”
“I was too angry to take my own life,” muses the protagonist of Sharon Bolton’s Little Black Lies. “Unless, of course, I could take Rachel’s first.” Readers expecting a conventionally likable heroine may be taken aback by Catrin Quinn, a woman too consumed by grief to feel much empathy for anyone around her.
Are you ready to dive into a world of magic and adventure, but a bit hesitant to pick up an 800-page doorstopper with a hefty roster of characters? Then Naomi Novik, author of the best-selling Temeraire series, has the perfect summer fantasy for you in the spellbinding Uprooted.
One of the defining characteristics of much of the best science fiction writing is ambition, but the trick is to filter that ambition into something meaningful. A big story idea is a start, but a great science fiction writer knows how to channel that into an inventive, emotionally affecting story that’s as much about science as it is about characters. Over the course of his career, Neal Stephenson has become one of the poster children for just that kind of storytelling ambition, and with Seveneves he takes it to a level unlike anything he’s done before.
In a windblown field near the sea in Norfolk, England, a land developer’s excavating machine uncovers first a silver wing, then the cockpit of an American World War II fighter plane, then the ghostly remains of a long-dead pilot staring up from inside.