Bill Clegg, Richard Dawkins, Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Gilbert, Erica Jong | Barbara’s Picks, Sept. 2015, Pt. 1

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Clegg, Bill. Did You Ever Have a Family. Scout: Gallery. Sept. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9781476798172. $26. LITERARY FICTION Clegg is a leading literary agent and the author of two well-regarded memoirs, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days, which detail how he fell into crack addiction and stays sober now. So […]

Patrick deWitt, Lori Ostlund, Edward St. Aubyn, & More Award-Winning Writers | Fiction Previews, Sept. 2015, Pt. 1

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deWitt, Patrick. Undermajordomo Minor. Ecco. Sept. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780062281203. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062281234. LITERARY FICTION If you liked DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, an edgily funny remake of the classic Western that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, you’ll probably like his new work, too. Weak and hapless Lucien (Lucy) Minor feels like a […]

From Soviet Intelligence to Hurricane Katrina | History Previews, Aug. 2015, Pt. 2

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Haslam, Jonathan. Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence. Farrar. Aug. 2015. 384p. ISBN 9780374219901. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374710408. HISTORY Professor of the history of international relations at Cambridge, Haslam offers an overview of Soviet intelligence from the October Revolution to the end of the Cold War that encompasses not just the […]

Roger Hobbs, Kevin P. Keating, Jeff Lindsay, James Neff, Dan-el Padilla Peralta, & Jane Urquhart | Barbara’s Picks, Jul. 2015, Pt. 3

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Hobbs, Roger. Vanishing Games. Knopf. Jul. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780385352642. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385352659. CD: Random Audio. SUSPENSE The darling of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Hobbs’s Ghostman was a stand-out debut, with rights sold to 25 countries, a film option snatched by Warner Bros., and 70,000 copies sold across formats in the United States. It […]

Literary (Couto, Gladstone), Historical (Forsyth, Iggulden), & Women’s (Harbison, Hopkins) | Fiction Previews, Jul. 2015, Pt. 3

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Couto, Mia. Confession of the Lioness. Farrar. Jul. 2015. 208p. tr. from Portuguese by David Brookshaw. ISBN 9780374129231. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780374710958. LITERARY Winner of the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, among other awards, and one of the major writers of Portuguese-speaking Africa, Couto sets this dark and mysterious tale in the isolated village […]

Dean Bakopoulos, Vendela Vida, & Nine More Authors You Must Read | Fiction Previews, Jun. 2015, Pt. 3

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Bakopoulos, Dean. Summerlong. Ecco. Jun. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780062321169. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062321183. LITERARY In Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, Bakopoulos’s wondrous debut and a New York Times Notable Book, women and children are left scrambling after the men start disappearing from a blue-collar neighborhood. In this third novel (after My American Unhappiness), […]

Butler, Danielewski, Enright, Hemon, Pearl, & Perkins-Valdez | Barbara’s All-Fiction Picks, May 2015, Pt. 2

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Butler, Nickolas. Beneath the Bonfire: Stories. St. Martin’s. May 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781250039835. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466875531. CD: Macmillan Audio. SHORT STORIES After receiving some powerful reviews when it appeared last spring (the New York Times called it “an impressively original debut”), Butler’s Wisconsin-set, warmly small-town, big-friendship Shotgun Lovesongs went on to become a national […]

Chess at Auschwitz, Balkans War, & Friendship Via Wikipedia | Eleven Big Fiction Debuts, May 2015, Pt.

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Acampora, Lauren. The Wonder Garden. Grove. May 2015. 288p. ISBN 9780802123558. $24. SHORT STORIES A real estate agent contemplates yet another tackily enlarged house. A group of suburban women gather to reveal themselves briefly to one another and condescend to the rest of the world. A father-to-be abandons a successful career at the urging of […]

Upmarket Fiction from Amit Chaudhuri, Emily Schultz, Adam Thirlwell, & More | Fiction Previews, Apr. 2015, Pt. 3

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Begley, Louis. Killer, Come Hither. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. 256p. ISBN 9780385539142. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385539159. LITERARY/THRILLER In a departure from his smooth-as-melted-butter stories of New York’s stratospheric milieu (e.g., About Schmidt), Begley tries out a literary thriller starring Jack Dana, a Yalie turned marine officer turned successful novelist. Close to his uncle Harry, a […]

Brian Doyle, Bruce Holsinger, Ann Packer, & Three Essential World War II Titles | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2015, Pt. 2

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Doyle, Brian. Martin Marten. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781250045201. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466843691. LITERARY Published by an academic press, the luminously written Mink River was a dead giveaway that Doyle had a big literary future ahead of him, and he proved himself nicely with last year’s The Plover. His new novel […]