I like to read literary fiction and short stories that are dark, but not sad--preferably on a beach!
In the Jim Crow South of the '60s Elwood listens to the words of Martin Luther King, wishing to be part of the civil rights movement. Instead he winds up at a reform school called the Nickel Academy where he shows his "capacity to suffer." With exquisite writing, as we saw in The Underground Railroad, the author reveals this brutal story of courage and of hope, which is based on true events.
In the first chapter of this excellent debut novel, two sisters are kidnapped in the frigid easternmost province of Russia. The subsequent chapters beautifully tell the stories of the people adjacent to this mystery--ending with a chilling conclusion.
This masterful collection of connected stories focuses on the life and family dynamics of a young, biracial and gay man living in Houston, Texas. Living with his single mother and homophobic brother, he also paints a vivid picture of his neighborhood including glimpses of poverty, fatherhood, and his own coming of age. It is an impressive debut.
In the words of a poet we read a letter from Little Dog to his mother Lan, who cannot read. The story of their lives in Vietnam and Connecticut evolve with questions of war, race, politics, immigration, sexuality and addiction. It is raw and brutal, yet filled with so much beauty.
This beautifully written debut story collection explores motherhood and reproduction, ranging from miscarriage to unplanned pregnancies, as well as abortion and adoption. Whether you've been there or are going to be there, these stories will resonate deeply.
This endearing and thoughtful coming of age novel follows the relationship of Marianne and Connell. It starts with an awkward high school friendship, going through the next four years of their together/not together status--deceptively simple, and often heartbreaking. Sally Rooney is a gem of a writer!
Ilya and Vladimir are brothers in Russia who each take their separate paths. Ilya teaches himself English and goes to America as an exchange student, while Vladimir is riddled with drugs and violence. Their unshakable bond and a murder mystery are at the heart of this beautifully written novel.
Daisy Jones is a beautiful and wild singer who becomes involved with Billy, the lead singer of the band The Six. It is the ultimate story of sex, drugs and rock and roll, told through a series of interviews with members of the band. Whether you think you love 70's rock music or not, you will love Daisy Jones!
When Dani Shapiro got the results of a genetic test, she discovered that her family was not as she had always believed. She had always felt that she didn't quite "fit", though she didn't know why. This memoir of families and secrets is honest, and raw, and touching.
This story of Lena and her abusive relationship with Victor, who has since become a very public figure, is very timely in the age of #MeToo. Weighing the pros and cons of speaking out against a previous assault -- along with the suspicion of a second woman who may have been murdered by him -- makes this novel both a thriller and a commentary on our time.
Maurice Swift wants to be a famous writer. But to what lengths will this charlatan go to achieve this role? With an appearance by Gore Vidal as well as references to other bookish figures and publishers, this is a clever and engaging literary thriller from the author of The Heart's Invisible Furies.
To be photographed by Bill Cunningham was one of the greatest of fashion compliments. This entertaining and endearing memoir was found after his death in 2016. Punished by his Puritanical Boston parents for dressing in his sister's dresses, he found true joy in fashion -- from early days at Jordan Marsh to the opening of the magnificent Bonwit Teller and then on to NYC to start designing hats under the name of William J. This book is perfect for all you fashionistas!
In this terrific novel, fifteen-year-old Jo tells her story of sexual abuse at the hands of an older, charismatic teacher at an elite boarding school. The shame, the powerlessness, and the isolation are brilliantly depicted. With pinpoint observations, the great Kate Walbert makes this story all too real and sadly relevant. I read it in one big gulp.
No one does a short story better than Lauren Groff. These tales are set in hot, humid, dank, swampy towns, and they are full of fairytale dangers. Viewed through the eyes of the women and children that occupy them, they are also full of compassion and beauty.
In postwar London, Nathaniel and Rachel's parents have gone abroad, leaving them in the care of a possible criminal -- a man known as The Moth. This exquisitely written novel by the author of The English Patient, is atmospheric, mysterious, witty, and just wonderful!
Romy Hall is serving two life terms for murdering her stalker. Her story and those of her fellow inmates, including a teacher in the prison who teaches a GED class and offers literature to the inmates, describe the inequalities of our prison system and the powerlessness of those inside. Written with grace, and wit, and humility, this is a beautiful and fascinating novel.
Alice and Lucy were roommates at Bennington College. Their relationship, intense and mysterious, changed when a tragic accident occurred. Now they are reunited in Tangier, where Alice has moved with her husband. Shades of The Talented Mr. Ripley are evident in this very good psychological thriller with the heat and beauty of Morocco in the background.
Alice is a young editor living in NYC and having an affair with an older Nobel awarded author. Amat is an economist being held at Heathrow airport on his way to visit his brother in Iraq. What is their connection? This unique, gorgeously written and thought provoking debut novel will leave you with so much to discuss!
When the Gold children leave their Lower East Side apartment to visit a fortune teller, they believe it will be a summer adventure, but once they have each been told the date of their death, their experience takes on a much deeper meeting. As a dancer in San Francisco, a magician in Las Vegas, a scientist, and a military physician, they separately experience the blessings and curses of the knowledge they acquired.
In her own inimitable way, Roz Chast has written and, of course, illustrated a humorous, entertaining, and (most surprisingly) extremely informative book on New York City. For both newcomers and lovers of the city, this is a great read.
Julia and Cassie have been the closest of friends since they were young children. Once adolescence begins, however, this friendship starts to fade. Cassie, the wilder one, and Julia, the rule keeper, are no longer in the same social circles. The angst of high school and the importance of friendship against a looming crisis make this the perfect coming-of-age story.
This epic novel details the story of Cyril Avery from the time of his illegitimate birth in Ireland through seventy years of his life. Reminiscent of early John Irving, it tells of his grappling with life, love, acceptance, and his sexuality. It is warm and funny and heartbreaking and quite wonderful!
Aviva Grossman of Boca Raton, Florida had an affair with a married congressman while working as his intern, but she will not let this indiscretion ruin her life. She reinvents herself and shows the world that there can be a second act. Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry) has written a warm and witty story through the eyes of the five women affected by this scandal, while addressing feminist and human issues.
Yejide and Akin are a modern Nigerian couple who are desperate to have a child, and they resort to desperate means to make that happen. The story of their lives together against the backdrop of their beloved Nigeria's political upheavals make this a fascinating, heartbreaking, and beautiful book.
This is a witty, smart and engrossing story of a wealthy New York family which has been fractured by the surprise appearance of an unknown woman claiming paternity of two sons after the patriarch has died. Told from the perspectives of the widow, her five sons, and other characters, the story reveals the way they deal with this news, each other and the lives that lie ahead of them. A great read!
You know from the start that this friendship between two teenage girls in rural Michigan is doomed. Both girls have been neglected by their parents. Marlena will die, helped along by drugs, and Cat will be permanently altered by the relationship that was forged between the two. This is a sad yet lovely coming of age story that you will remember.
These poignant and beautifully written stories come from the Pulitzer prize winning author of The Sympathizer. They tell the experiences of refugees, new to this country, most having left Vietnam during the fall of Saigon in the mid seventies. They are often broken down by war, alienated, and dealing with the quiet and not so quiet ghosts of memory. A timely book, indeed.
This is a brutal, yet compelling story of a violent event in India told from the perspective of the victims, the terrorists and the survivors. Beautifully written, this novel is timely and disturbing. It has been on many "best of 2016" lists -- deservedly so.
The feel of the 1960's is perfectly evoked in this novel, complete with all of its exhilarating newness -- from music to fashion, from the philosophy of sex to the proliferation of drugs. Focusing on the singular neediness of a girl waiting to be loved, all paths in this book lead to a volatile relationship and a subsequent act of violence.
This beautifully written, multigenerational novel follows the descendants of two brave sisters from the beginnings of the slave trade on the Gold Coast of Africa in the eighteenth century to the American South and, finally, to Harlem in the 60's. Throughout, the author brilliantly shows the spirit of their ancestors, telling a story filled with the yearning for freedom and the search for humanity.
A family inheritance - referred to as "the nest" - is at the crux of this endearing story of four adult siblings grappling with myriad circumstances, issues, and conflicts. With a great cast of characters as well as smart and witty dialogue, this is an impressive first novel and a great read.
This is a terrific collection of stories with locales from America, to Israel, to the Soviet Union. There is historical context to most of the stories, yet they are made personal and current, showing humanity, humor, and love. In "Retrospective" Molly Antopol most brilliantly tells the story of three generations of women on three continents. Molly Antopol was deservedly named one of he National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" writers
I read this in one big gulp. A coming of age story. A scientific experiment gone awry. A heartwarming and heartbreaking and provocative look at the relationship we have with animals. Just read it!
This is the story of Marie, a daughter of Irish immigrants growing up on the front stoops of Brooklyn. It's a quiet and brief family saga, that in all of its simplicity shows her life in its most ordinary, yet beautiful detail.
Three sets of real life stories are intertwined in this beautiful novel. Pilots on an transatlantic flight to Ireland just after World War 1, the antislavery activist Frederick Douglas, and George Mitchell negotiating the 1998 Good Friday peace accord in Ireland all bump into each other. Colum McCann's amazing use of language is what makes this so transcendent.
During the heat of the financial crisis in London, the people living on Pepys Road are all thinking of money - how to get it, how to keep it. We are introduced to these residents and those surrounding them - the wealthy banker and his shopaholic wife, the Polish construction worker, the Hungarian nanny, the African meter maid, the Kenyan soccer player, the lovely old lady and her conceptual artist grandson, and the Pakistani news seller and his family. The vignettes of these people form a morality tale that is so well done, and so well written that it is a joy to read.
Rose is a typist in a New York City police precinct during Prohibition. Her life is changed by her obsession with the mysterious, glamorous Odalie - the "other typist". An unreliable narrator, a little Hitchcock, a little Gatsby makes this a fun read.
This is another gem from the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
How someone can tell the life story of an unnamed man in an unnamed Asian country with grace, humor and pathos and do it in the form of a self help book is nothing short of miraculous. I read it in awe and then I wept. Highly recommended.
Each story in this glorious collection is called "The News From Spain". More than being simply clever, every one is a love story of sorts ranging from a mother and daughter, wedding love, philandering love, and loving the wrong people at the wrong time. Wickersham's words are exquisite.
Manhattan, 1938, is the setting for this wonderfully satisfying tale of the rich -- and the not so rich! Amidst the glitter of New York are some unforgettable characters and a story that dazzles and lingers. We couldn't put it down.
Beautiful, brutal, lyrical, disturbing, powerful, heartbreaking - and more. This is the story of three brothers growing up in a mixed-up, crazy household that you will never forget.
These stories of life on an army base while the men are deployed to war are enlightening, frightening, and at times, heartbreaking. From the story of the returned soldier who hides in the basement to see if his wife is having an affair, to the wife who hacks into her husband's email to find some surprising news, these are stories to savor.
This is the beautiful and riveting story of Helen Adams, an American photojournalist covering the Vietnam War. Starting in Saigon in 1975 where "only the losers of history" remain and looking back over the 12 years she has spent immersing herself in country and establishing love relationships with first, her photographer mentor and finally with his assistant, Helen's is a fascinating story of how a woman views the war.
After a violent and brutal attack on a Nigerian beach, the lives of Andrew and Sarah, a suburban London couple, and Little Bee, a Nigerian orphan, are forever intertwined. Mesmerizing and beautifully written.
These five interlinked stories of musicians from Italy to Spain to Beverly Hills are bittersweet and witty. Ishiguro's beautiful writing reveals the intricacies of relationships.