Fiction Beyond Our Borders | Barbara’s Picks, Jul./Aug. 2017

Adebayo, Ayobami. Stay with Me. Knopf. Aug. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9780451494603. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451494610. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
In this debut from rising Nigerian star Adebayo, Yejide and Akin fall in love and get married but fail tostaywithme conceive a child. The consequences are dire, as Yejide’s parents eventually saunter in with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Over-the-top-jealous Yejide determines that she can save her marriage only by getting pregnant, which she manages at great personal cost. Enthusiastic in-house support, and Margaret Atwood, with whom Adebayo has studied, is tweeting up a storm.

Bassingthwaighte, Ian. Live from Cairo. Scribner. Jul. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781501146879. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501146893. LITERARY
A Hopwood Award winner and finalist for the Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative, Fulbright grantee Bassingthwaighte worked in Egypt in 2009 to help refugees from Iraq, Sudan, and the Horn of Africa. Here he chronicles four people caught in Cairo during the crash of President Mubarak’s regime. Dalia has been denied entry to America; lawyer Charlie plots a shady way to get her in; Aos, Charlie’s translator and sole friend, protests in Tahrir Square; and Iraqi American Hana, Dalia’s case worker, anguishes over her job.

Binet, Laurent. The Seventh Function of Language. Farrar. Aug. 2017. 368p. tr. from French by Sam Taylor. ISBN 9780374261566. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374715083. LITERARY
An NBCC finalist and winner of the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, Binet’s HHhH rethought the binetnovel-as-history while chronicling the assassination of Nazi monster Reinhard Heydrich. Here Binet again rethinks historical events, treating as possible murder the 1980 death of distinguished literary theorist and linguist Roland Barthes, struck down by a laundry van after lunching with presidential candidate François Mitterand. Literary highlights like Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Michel Foucault, and Julia Kristeva drop into the narrative as police detective Jacques Bayard tries to puzzle out what happened, and though the French do love the detective tradition, it’s not every gumshoe who finds himself in search of a lost linguistic masterpiece.

Carrasco, Jesús. Out in the Open. Riverhead. Jul. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9781594634369. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780698197404. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY/DYSTOPIAN
In a lawless, drought-ravaged land, a boy hides from pursuers, then sets off for freedom across a vast plain. There he meets a goatherd who embodies all the righteous brightness lost to his world and learns that he has choices. Carrasco’s debut sold hugely in Spain, with rights grabbed by nearly two dozen countries; multiple awards include the European Union Prize for Literature and the English PEN award.

Chase, Eve. The Wildling Sisters. Putnam. Jul. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780399174131. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698191471. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. WOMEN’S FICTION
British author Chase, whose gothic-twisty Black Rabbit Hall was a No. 2 LibraryReads pick, offers an wildlingatmospheric successor set at shadowed Applecote Manor. In June 1959, four sisters arrive there, anticipating a pleasant summer holiday with their aunt and uncle. Alas, cousin Audrey’s disappearance five years previously still inks the manor’s every corner, and the incursion of two handsome neighbors brings breaking-point crisis. Fifty years later, Jesse moves to the manor with her husband and stepdaughter and encounters rumors about its dark past.

Cohen, Joshua. Moving Kings. Random. Jul. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9780399590184. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780399590191. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
Literary cult author Cohen follows 2015’s nationally best-selling, best-booked Book of Numbers with a new work featuring two 21-year-old Israelis working in New York for a mover and shaker in the Tri-State area’s moving and storage industries. Mostly, they’re shoving out delinquent tenants and defaulting homeowners in poor minority neighborhoods, but then meeting someone who refuses to budge brings back echoes of their military service.

Gurnah, Abdulrazak. Gravel Heart. Bloomsbury USA. Aug. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9781632868138. $28. LITERARY
Short-listed for the Booker, Whitbread, Commonwealth, and Los Angeles Times Book prizes, gurnahZanzibar-born, U.K.-based Gurnah here chronicles the life of a boy named Salim born after Zanzibar’s fight for independence and subsequent bloody revolution. Salim’s father is indifferent to him, eventually moving out of the house, and as his mother keeps company with a strange man, Salim draws close to his beloved diplomat uncle Amir. Amir offers the teenage Salim a chance to travel to London, which he finds a cold, crowded place, but there he wrestles with coming-of-age issues even as he faces his family’s dark secret.

Hall, Sarah. Madame Zero: 9 Stories. Custom House: Morrow. Jul. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9780062657060. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062657084. SHORT STORIES
A new mother encounters an old flame, a social worker struggles to foster a commune-raised child, and a woman periodically turns into a fox. Intriguing scenarios that will doubtless yield gemlike stories: Hall (The Wolf Border) was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, and her shelf topples over with honors that include the BBC Short Story Prize, the E.M. Forster Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Betty Trask Award, and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, among others. There’s a Man Booker short-listing in that pile. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Hudson, Gabe. Gork, the Teenage Dragon. Knopf. Jul. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780375413964. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781524732479. LITERARY FANTASY
As the promotion says, “High school, with dragons,” which sums up the appeal of this latest from Suehudson Kaufman Prize winner and PEN/Hemingway finalist Hudson. A dragon named Gork, about to graduate from WarWings Military Academy, has an unfortunate reputation for fainting and the lowest class ranking for Will To Power. Now he must ask a female dragon to be his queen, and if she demurs he’ll become a slave. It looks bad, but Gork has one thing going for him: a big, generous heart. Seriously, literary sentimentalists, can you resist?

Muñoz Molina, Antonio. Like a Fading Shadow. Farrar. Jul. 2017. 320p. tr. from Spanish by Camilo A. Ramirez. ISBN 9780374126902. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374714161. LITERARY/HISTORICAL FICTION
Winner of the Planeta and Príncipe de Asturias prizes, Spanish author Muñoz Molina draws on recently declassified FBI files as he tracks James Earl Ray to Canada, London, and finally Lisbon after he assassinates Martin Luther King Jr. Reconstructing events allows Muñoz Molina to inject himself into the proceedings as he ponders the act of writing a novel.

Nayeri, Dina. Refuge. Riverhead. Jul. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781594487057. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399576409. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY
Having distinguished herself with A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, Nayeri again plunges us into the refugeriptide experience of immigration today. Niloo left Iran as a child and is now a cultured and classy Westerner, but she misses the obstreperous father she’s seen only four times in two decades. As she becomes absorbed in the plight of the refugees flooding Europe, Niloo recognizes a need to reconnect both with her father and with a familiar homeland she still barely knows.

Pamuk, Orhan. The Red-Haired Woman. Knopf. Aug. 2017. 272p. tr. from Turkish by Ekin Oklap. 9780451494429. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451494436. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
Nobel Prize winner Pamuk takes us to an endless plain somewhere outside of Istanbul, where a master well digger and his young apprentice have been tasked with finding water. They’re an odd couple—the well digger is a lonely, middle-aged bachelor and the apprentice the middle-class son of a father who’s been arrested for subversive activities—but they form a deep bond that’s disrupted when the apprentice falls for the alluring red-haired woman he spots in town, who’s with a traveling circus company. His infatuation leads to a tragedy that takes him decades to understand. A small tour—to Boston, New York, and Washington, DC—but big interest; Pamuk is one of those prize winners who sells a bundle of books.

Share
Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

Comments

  1. Joseph Jones says:

    I loved Black Rabbit Hall so am really excited to read Eve Chase’s new one! The Gork, the Teenage Dragon sounds so different I will have to try that as well :)

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*