Mostly Fiction BOOK REVIEWS


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World Literature

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Draining the Sea by Micheline Aharonian Marcom - A striking literary exploration of the effects of political violence as it everberates through the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the Guatemalan civil conflict of the 1980s, and present-day Los Angeles-from award-winning novelist Micheline Aharonian Marcom. (March 2009) author page

The Sorrows of an American Siri Hustvedt - A soaring feat of storytelling about the immigrant experience and the ghosts that haunt families from one generation to another. author page

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat—told from the point of view of the wife of of the legendary Pandavas brothers. (February 2009) author page

The Deportees: and Other Stories by Roddy Doyle - The eight tales in Roddy Doyle’s first-ever collection of stories have one thing in common: someone born in Ireland meets someone who has come to live there. (January 2009) author page

A Free Life by Ha JinA Free Life by Ha Jin - 1990s America. We follow the Wu family--father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao--as they fully sever their ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and begin a new, free life in the United States. (January 2009) author page

A Golden AgeA Golden Age by Tahmima Anam - As young widow Rehana Haque awakes one March morning, she might be forgiven for feeling happy. Today she will throw a party for her son and daughter. In the garden of the house she has built, her roses are blooming, her children are almost grown, and beyond their doorstep, the city is buzzing with excitement after recent elections. Change is in the air. But none of the guests at Rehana's party can foresee what will happen in the days and months ahead. For this is 1971 in East Pakistan, a country on the brink of war. And this family's life is about to change forever. (January 2009) author page

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks - In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. (December 2008)

The Deportees: and Other Stories by Roddy Doyle - Roddy Doyle has earned a devoted following amongst those who appreciate his sly humor, acute ear for dialogue, and deeply human portraits of contemporary Ireland. The Deportees is Doyle’s first-ever collection of short stories, and each tale describes the cultural collision—often funny and always poignant—between a native and someone new to the fast-changing country. (December 2008) author page

Diary of a Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee - Takes on the world of politics—a new topic for Coetzee—and explores the role of the writer in our times with an extraordinary moral compass. (October 2008) author page

The Adventures of Amir Hamza by Ghalib Lakhnavi - This Islamic saga dates back hundreds of years, perhaps to as early as the seventh century, when oral narratives of the deeds of the prophet Muhammad’s uncle Amir Hamza spread through Arabia, Persia, and the Indian subcontinent, expanding into a marvelous chronicle of warriors, kings, tricksters, fairies, courtesans, and magical creatures. The definitive one-volume Urdu text by Ghalib Lakhnavi and Abdullah Bilgrami appeared toward the end of the nineteenth century, but English translations of this text have always been censored and abridged–until now. (October 2008)

Assassin's Song by M.G. Vassanji - In the aftermath of the brutal violence that gripped western India in 2002, Karsan Dargawalla, heir to Pirbaag—the shrine of a mysterious, medieval sufi—begins to tell the story of his family and the shrine now destroyed. His tale opens in the 1960s (August 2008) author page

Gifted by Nikita Lalwani - In this penetrating coming-of-age debut, 14-year-old Rumika Vasi struggles to fulfill her mathematical gifts and her family's demands on them, while also finding friendship and romance. Lalwani does a nice job with the myriad cultural contradictions. (August 2008) author page

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham - American Football in Italy? Grisham's novel is a charming fish-out-of-water story set in Italy. (July 2008) author page

The Savior by Eugene Drucker - A magnetic debut novel from the world-renowned violinist. (July 2008) author page

The Complete Stories by David Malouf - (June 2008)

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. (June 2008) author page

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani - In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great. (May 2008)

After Dark by Haruki Murakami - A short, sleek novel of encounters set in Tokyo during the witching hours between midnight and dawn, and every bit as gripping as Haruki Murakami’s masterworks The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore. (April 2008)

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton - Hamilton's captivating third novel follows Fiona Sweeney, a 36-year-old librarian, from New York to Garissa, Kenya, on her sincere but naïve quest to make a difference in the world. (April 2008)

The Religion by Tim Willocks - An epic account of the Turkish siege of Malta in 1565—the first of a planned trilogy featuring Mattias Tannhauser, the son of a Saxon blacksmith. (April 2008)

Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson - Max Glickman, a Jewish cartoonist whose seminal work is a comic history titled Five Thousand Years of Bitterness, recalls his childhood in a British suburb in the 1950s. Growing up, Max is surrounded by Jews, each with an entirely different and outspoken view on what it means to be Jewish. His mother, incessantly preoccupied with a card game called Kalooki, only begrudgingly puts the deck away on the High Holy Days. (April 2008)

The Successor by Ismail Kadare - A new novel from the acclaimed winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize for achievement in fiction. The Successor is a powerful political novel based on the sudden, mysterious death of the man who had been handpicked to succeed the hated Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha. (March 2008)

Zoli by Colum McCann - A unique love story, a tale of loss, a parable of Europe; this haunting novel is an examination of intimacy and betrayal. Based loosely on the true story of the Romani poet Papsuza who was raised as a traveling Gypsy. (March 2008)

I Love Dollars and Other Stories of China by Zhu Wen - An immediate sensation upon publication in China, I Love Dollars is a hilarious send-up of China’s love affair with capitalism by one of its most gifted new writers. In the title story, a young man, acutely aware of his filial duty, sets out to secure a prostitute for his father, only to haggle his old man out of a good time. Here, gleefully exposed, are the inanities of everyday life in contemporary China. (February 2008)

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar - Shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, Matar's debut novel tracks the effects of Libyan strongman Khadafy's 1969 September revolution on the el-Dawani family, as seen by nine-year-old Suleiman, who narrates as an adult. (February 2008) Read Our Review

This Human Season by Louise Dean - Set in Belfast during the Troubles in the winter of 1979. (February 2008 ) Read Our Review

Secondhand World by Katherine Min - Min poignantly captures the dilemma of second-generation Americans as they try to find a place in their universe, but she also tells of a quest for self-discovery, which is universal. (February 2008)

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak - When The Bastard of Istanbul was published in Turkey, Elif Shafak was accused by nationalist lawyers of insulting Turkish identity. The charges were later dropped, and now readers in America can discover for themselves this bold and powerful tale. Populated with vibrant characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is the story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backdrop of Turkey’s violent history. (January 2008)

Matters of Honor by Louis Begley - (January 2008)

Winterwood by Patrick McCabe - In this spellbinding new novel, nothing—and no one—are ever quite what they seem. A disturbing and unforgettable tale of love, death and identity. (January 2008)

House of Meetings by Martin Amis - In 1946, two brothers and a Jewish girl fall into alignment in pogrom-poised Moscow. The fraternal conflict then marinates in Norlag, a slave-labor camp above the Arctic Circle, where a tryst in the coveted House of Meetings will haunt all three lovers long after the brothers are released. (January 2008) About Us| Last Modified | Join Newsletter | Contact Us | ©1998-2009