Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013

onethousand Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013al-Shaykh, Hanan. One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling. Pantheon. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780307958860. $26. F

Lebanese novelist al-Shaykh (Women of Sand and Myrrh) takes the hundreds of stories that make up the traditional One Thousand and One Nights and pares them down to a concise 19. Focusing on tales that expose misogyny—of men who kill their wives and lovers, who injure them, or who leave them for dead—al-Shaykh is interested in how women grapple with a society that is stacked against them. Gone are Aladdin, Ali Baba, and even much of Sinbad, but what remains is a haunting collection of stories about women who, if not always heroic, are resilient, funny, sexual, and, above all, smart. Anchored by two central framing narratives, the tales lead into one another like a set of matryoshka dolls. The beautiful language is deceptively simple: readers are in danger of being lulled into marathon reading sessions. VERDICT It’s no wonder al-Shaykh identifies with Shahrazad; they are very much the same. This retelling will find an eager audience in readers who love folktales, especially those with a feminist slant. Not for the faint of heart, these stories are gory, lusty, and very, very good. [See Author Q&A, LJ Reviews, ow.ly/kzWHL].—Molly McArdle, Library Journal

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013Belfoure, Charles. The Paris Architect. Sourcebooks Landmark. Oct. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781402284311. $25.99. F

In 1942 Paris, architect Lucien Bernard hates the occupying Germans but feels no love for the Jews, who have been asked to surrender to authorities. Times are tough, though, and Lucien takes on a dangerous job designing hiding spots for Jews. While he’s initially motivated by the challenge and the satisfaction of outsmarting the Germans, the job becomes unexpectedly personal when tragedy strikes an occupant in one of his designs. Lucien suddenly sees the plight of the Jews through new eyes, and as he begins believing in the importance of the mission, he realizes he’s not only saving them, he’s saving himself. VERDICT Architect and debut author Belfoure’s portrayal of Vichy France is both disturbing and captivating, and his beautiful tale demonstrates that while human beings are capable of great atrocities, they have a capacity for tremendous acts of courage as well. Readers will root for Lucien as he risks his life and discovers strength and character he never knew he had. Some sensitive readers may take offense to characters’ language and attitudes toward Jews.—Vicki Briner, City Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013Keneally, Thomas. The Daughters of Mars. Atria: S. & S. Aug. 2013. 544p. ISBN 9781476734613. $28. F

In this latest from Booker Prize–winning author Keneally (Schindler’s List), Australian sisters Naomi and Sally Durance volunteer as nurses at the beginning of World War I. Initially posted to a medical ship off the coast of Greece, they survive a shipwreck and are eventually transferred to the European front in France, Sally to a clearing station and Naomi to a hospital established by an eccentric viscountess. Though the sisters’ viewpoints are seemingly limited, their service is a testament to the scope of war, as the number and nature of casualties they treat range from shrapnel and bayonet wounds to gassing, trench foot, shell shock, and finally the Spanish flu. Along the way we meet an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, including the resolute Matron Mitchie, returning to the front with a prosthetic leg, and Quaker Ian Kiernan, who volunteers for medical service but refuses a transfer to combat. VERDICT Keneally must have done copious research, but historical details and information about wartime medical treatment are presented organically, without the weight of historical retrospection. His ambiguous ending helps the reader bear the unbearable. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/13.]—Christine ­DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis


The following titles are reviewed in the June 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Aridjis, Chloe. Asunder. Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9780544003460. pap. $13.95. F

Barlow, Toby. Babayaga. Farrar. Aug. 2013. 400p. ISBN 978-0374107871. $27. F

Bartleman, James. The Redemption of Oscar Wolf. Dundurn, dist. by Midpoint Trade. Jul. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781459709829. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459709836. F

Boswell, Robert. Tumbledown. Graywolf. Aug. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9781555976491. $26. F

Brown, Karen. The Longings of Wayward Girls. Washington Square: S. & S. Jul. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781476724911. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781476724935. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Fagan, Jenni. The Panopticon. Hogarth: Crown. Jul. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780385347860. $22; ISBN 9780385347877. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Haig, Matt. The Humans. S. & S. Jul. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781476727912. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476727929. F

Harbison, Beth. Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780312599133. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250031907. F

Haynes, Elizabeth. Human Remains. Harper: HarperCollins. Sept. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780062276766. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062276773. F

Hilderbrand, Elin. Beautiful Day. Reagan Arthur: Little, Brown. Jun. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780316099783. $27.99. F

Kennedy, Thomas E. Kerrigan in Copenhagen: A Love Story. Bloomsbury. dist. by Macmillan. Jun. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781620401095. $26. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Kiernan, Stephen. The Curiosity. Morrow. Jul. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780062221063. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062221087. F

Lapidus, Jens. Never Fuck Up. Pantheon. Jun. 2013. 512p. tr. from Swedish by Astri von Arbin Ahlander. ISBN 9780307377494. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908506. F

Lazar, Barbara. The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai. Headline, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Jun. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780755389254. $24.95. F

Lynn, Allison. The Exiles. Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780544102101. $24. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Maher, Kevin. The Fields. Reagan Arthur: Little, Brown. Aug. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780316223560. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316223577. F

Maksik, Alexander. A Marker To Measure Drift. Knopf. Jul. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780307962577. $24.95. F

O’Connell, John. Baskerville: The Mysterious Tale of Sherlock’s Return. Marble Arch: Atria. Jun. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9781476730233. pap. $16. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Onstad, Katrina. Everybody Has Everything. Grand Central. Jun. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781455522927. pap. $13.99. F

Parkin, Gaile. When Hoopoes Go to Heaven. Atlantic Bks. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780857894083. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9780857894113. $17.50; ebk. ISBN 9780857894106. F

Pelecanos, George. The Double. Little, Brown. Oct. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780316078399. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316255912. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Pessl, Marisha. Night Film. Random.Aug. 2013. 624p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400067886. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780679643913. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Pineda, Jon. Apology. Milkweed Editions. Jun. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9781571311047. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781571318923. F

Rich, David Neal. Middle Man: A Lieutenant Rollie Waters Novel. Dutton. Aug. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780525953234. $26.95. F

Roth, Joseph. The Emperor’s Tomb. New Directions. 2013. 192p. tr. from German by Michael Hofmann. ISBN 9780811221276. pap. $15.95. F

Sakey, Marcus. Brilliance. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Jul. 2013. 500p. ISBN 9781611099690. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781611091984. F

Sheehy, Patti. The Boy Who Said No: An Escape to Freedom. Oceanview. Jun. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781608090808. $26.95. F

Sittenfeld, Curtis. Sisterland. Random. Jun. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781400068319. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812994407. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Slaughter, Karin. Unseen. Delacorte. Jul. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780345539472. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780345539489. F

Spalding, Linda. The Purchase. Pantheon. Aug. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780307908414. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908421. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 15, 2013  Walls, Jeannette. The Silver Star. Scribner. Jun. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781451661507. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451661552. F

Whyte, Jack. Robert the Bruce. Forge: Tor. (Guardians). Aug. 2013. 592p. ISBN 9780765331571. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429922678. F

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Comments

  1. Bartleman, James. The Redemption of Oscar Wolf. Dundurn, dist. by Midpoint Trade. Jul. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781459709829. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459709836. F

    Dundurn’s titles are distributed by Ingram Publisher Services in the United States, not Midpoint Trade.

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