O’Nan in Jerusalem, a Newly Discovered Tolkien, Abu-Jaber’s New Memoir, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2016, Pt. 3

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Abu-Jaber, Diana. Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Family. Norton. Apr. 2016. 256p. ISBN 9780393249095. $26.95. MEMOIR Abu-Jaber, a fiction writer known for sparkling award winners like Crescent, has also given us the luscious memoir The Language of Baklava. Here she continues wrapping her discussion of love and identity in the sweet […]

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

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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 […]

Chevalier, Fishman, O’Brien, Oyeyemi, & Spiotta | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Mar. 2016, Pt. 1

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Chevalier, Tracy. At the Edge of the Orchard. Viking. Mar. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9780525953005. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698404199. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL Chevalier is the New York Times best-selling author of numerous audience favorites, notably Girl with a Pearl Earring, and with this book, as a way to introduce her to new readers, her new publisher […]

Yann Martel, Iain Pears, & Jacobson’s Shakespeare Retelling | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 4

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Gallagher, Matt. Youngblood. Atria. Feb. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9781501105746. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501105760. LITERARY Never have more veterans expressed the full depth of their war experience by turning to writing, as evidenced by recent stellar fiction from authors like Elliot Ackerman, Michael Pitre, and the National Book Award–winning Phil Klay, who calls this current example […]

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

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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 […]

Fetishes, Time Travel, & Disappearing Authors | Debut Fiction, Feb. 2016, Pt. 3

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Boyce, Trudy Nan. Out of the Blues. Putnam. Feb. 2016. 351p. ISBN 9780399167263. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698140707. THRILLER Following more than 30 years with the Atlanta PD as a beat cop, homicide detective, senior hostage negotiator, and lieutenant, Boyce leaps into writing with this story of brand-new homicide detective, Sarah “Salt” Alt, assigned a cold […]

Denby’s Great Books in High School, Grushin’s New Dream of a Novel, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 2

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Blaedel, Sara. The Killing Forest. Grand Central. Feb. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9781455581542. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455581535. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455591862. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER An internationally best-selling author voted Denmark’s most popular novelist for the fourth time in 2014, Blaedel has been getting good attention here for relentlessly bleak and edgy books like The Forgotten […]

Four Books by Patrick Modiano | LJ Reviews

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Modiano, Patrick. The Occupation Trilogy: La Place de L’Étoile; The Night Watch; Ring Roads. Bloomsbury USA. Sept. 2015. 208p. tr. from French by Caroline Hillier & others. ISBN 9781632863720. pap. $18. F Until he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014, Modiano was not widely known here, but American readers can now start […]

Six Award-Winning Novelists, from Peter Behrens to John Wray| Fiction Previews, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1

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Behrens, Peter. Carry Me. Pantheon. Feb. 2016. 464p. ISBN 9781101870495. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101870518. LITERARY/HISTORICAL The author of The Law of Dreams, which received Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction in 2006, and 2012’s The O’Briens, ravishingly reviewed here, returns with another significant historical saga. Set in Europe between the world wars, it is […]

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

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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 […]