DiSclafani, Erdrich, Haddon, Joe Hill, & Fargo’s Hawley | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, May 2016, Pt. 1


DiSclafani, Anton. The After Party. Riverhead. May 2016. 384p. ISBN 9781594633164. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780698161238. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY DiSclafani’s daring debut, the much proclaimed and New York Times best-selling The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, was a coming-of-age story set in the 1930s South. Her new work, set in oil-rich 1950s Texas, features a […]

Debut Novels, in Love, War, & More | Fiction Previews, Apr. 2016, Pt. 3


Donovan, Kemper. The Decent Proposal. Harper. Apr. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780062391629. $25.99. POP FICTION At 29, wannabe Hollywood producer Richard Baumbach has little to show for his efforts but remains cockily assured of success, while 33-year-old Elizabeth Santiago will surely make partner at her law firm but barely deviates from her ordered life. (One big […]

Jo Nesbø Above the Arctic Circle, Irvine Welsh in Edinburgh, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 3


Kang, Han. The Vegetarian. Hogarth: Crown. Feb. 2016. 192p. ISBN 9780553448184. $21; ebk. ISBN 9780553448191. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY Highly regarded internationally, an award winner in her native South Korea, and a former student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Kang is breaking out with this tale of surprising subversion. Haunted by images from a terrible […]

Prize-Worthy Aboulela, Screen-Worthy Cornwell & Endo, Thatcher’s Continuing Biography, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2015, Pt. 4


Aboulela, Leila. The Kindness of Enemies. Grove. Jan. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780802124487. $26. LITERARY FICTION Sudanese-born, Scotland-based, and relentlessly prize-worthy, Aboulela grabbed the Caine Prize for African Writing with a story from the collection Coloured Lights and the Scottish Book Award for her most recent novel, Lyrics Alley; that novel and her two others, The […]

Bagshawe Gets Reckless, Donaldson Does Novellas, Sandford Goes SF, & More | Fiction Previews, Oct. 2015, Pt. 4


Bagshawe, Tilly. Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless: A Tracy Whitney Novel. Morrow. Oct. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9780062304056. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062304070. THRILLER New York Times best-selling author Bagshawe has done a half-dozen Sidney Sheldon novels, including Sidney Sheldon’s Chasing Tomorrow, which picked up powerhouse heroine Tracy Whitney from 1985’s If Tomorrow Comes. Here, Tracy is back, having […]

Eight Essential Memoirs from Barrymore, Cisneros, Fraser, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Oct. 2015, Pt. 4


Barrymore, Drew. Wildflower. Dutton. Oct. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781101983799. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781101983805. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR While 1990’s Little Girl Lost details Barrymore’s drug and alcohol abuse as a very young actress, this book covers the durable actress’s life since age 14, when she found herself living on her own. How it’s all come […]

September 2015 Music Picks from Chrissie Hynde & Patti Smith


Full disclosure: my good-time listening music dates mostly from the medieval and Renaissance eras. But I love music in general as a country without borders, and I’m always happy to feature books by or about major rock/pop/blues/jazz musicians in Prepub Alert. There has been a flood of such books lately, and since most of them […]

Alaa Al Aswany, Adi Alsaid, Belinda Bauer, Jack Canfield, Susan Casey, Amitav Ghosh, Eli Gottlieb, Mary Kubica | Barbara’s Picks, Aug. 2015, Pt. 4


Al Aswany, Alaa. The Automobile Club of Egypt. Knopf. Aug. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780373211548. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460379370. LITERARY/HISTORICAL Published here in 2004, Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building was a best seller in the Arab world for five years and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2006; the Times (London) recently […]

Linda Fairstein, Sophie Hannah, Michael Koryta, & More | Essential Thriller Titles, Aug. 2015, Pt. 4


Burdett, John. The Asset. Knopf. Aug. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780307272683. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353205. POLICE PROCEDURAL Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a Buddhist detective with the Royal Thai Police Force, returns after Vulture Peak for some seriously techy trouble. With female inspector Krom, as capable socially and technologically as he’s not, Sonchai peers through a raging typhoon at […]

Big Biographies of Joan Didion, Iceberg Slim, & Joy Davidson | Nonfiction Previews, Aug. 2015, Pt. 1


  Daugherty, Tracy. The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion. St. Martin’s. Aug. 2015. 672p. ISBN 9781250010025. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781466877405. BIOGRAPHY Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University with a spate of novels and short story collections to his name, Daugherty is best known for his much-praised biographies […]