Fiction Previews, May 2012, Pt. 3: Delia Ephron, Sadie Jones, Newcomer Wallentin

Dastgir, Rosie. A Small Fortune. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). May 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781594488108. $25.95. LITERARY
Like Zadie Smith, Dastgir, daughter of a Pakistani father and an English mother, has the mixed roots that should give her keen insight into the cultural particularities of England’s ethnic communities today. A devout Muslim, Harris has received ¬£53,000 in his divorce settlement from an Englishwoman and seeks to unload this unseemly sum as quickly as possible. Candidates for his largesse include his poor cousins in Pakistan and his cash-strapped college-student daughter. But in a rash moment he gives the entire sum to his least deserving relative, initiating feelings of obligation and resentment among his family more burdensome than the money. Keep an eye on this first novel from Oxford and Tisch School of the Arts grad Dastgir, especially for fans of Smith, Monica Ali, and Helen Oyeyemi.

Dietrich, William. The Emerald Storm: An Ethan Gage Adventure. Harper: HarperCollins. May 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780061989209. $25.99; eISBN 9780062097132. lrg. prnt. THRILLER
In this latest Ethan Gage novel, Gage and new wife Asiza are in the Caribbean, hunting for a treasure said to have been hidden from the Spanish conquistadores. Unfortunately, British agents are after it, too, hoping to use the gold to finance a slave revolt in St. Dominique (now Haiti) and thus deprive the French of a valuable colony. Though not hugely best-selling, this series is certainly popular; buy wherever readers like Gage.

Dragnić, Nataša. Every Day, Every Hour. Viking. May 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780670023509. $25.95. LITERARY
I haven’t seen this yet, so I’m guessing that the style is literary, given the credentials of both first novelist Dragniƒá (who attended the Croatian School of Diplomacy) and translator Liesl Schillinger (a former New Yorker staffer who writes frequently for the New York Times Book Review). The story, though, is wonderfully star-crossed, with lovers reaching out across the Continent, so this should have broad appeal‚ as rights sales to 28 countries might suggest. Luka and Dora fall in love as kindergarteners in mid-Sixties Croatia and are inseparable until Dora’s parents move to Paris. They fall in love again when they meet as adults, talented artist Luka having come to Paris to show his paintings, but will their feelings last? Nice for book groups and readers of high-end women’s fiction.

Ephron, Delia. The Lion Is In. Blue Rider: Penguin Group (USA). May 2012. 285p. ISBN 9780399158483. $24.95. POP FICTION
Here’s a women-on-the-run comedy with a twist, for these three women‚ a reluctant bride, a recovering alcoholic, and a suppressed minister’s wife‚ make friends with a lion. Retired circus performer Marcel resides at a tacky roadside nightclub where the women take refuge after their car breaks down. Soon, they’re waitressing at the club and building a special relationship with Marcel that’s threatened when, inevitably, their pasts come calling. Author/screenwriter Ephron (e.g., You’ve Got Mail) recently earned some media attention for her work with sister Nora on the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, seen around the country for two years. Should be popular.

Jones, Sadie. The Uninvited Guests. Harper: HarperCollins. May 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780062116505. $24.99. HISTORICAL FICTION
Jones’s The Outcast won the Costa First Novel Award and was an Orange Prize finalist; her second novel, Small Wars, won excellent reviews here, including a starred LJ review. She’s still not a household name in America, but perhaps three’s the charm. In this novel, set in 1912, Torrington family members prepare a 20th-birthday bash for second child Emerald even as they worry about losing their cherished Sterne, a manor house deep in the English countryside. Evidently more sly wit than Jones has shown before; with a 50,000-copy first printing and library and book club outreach.

Lilin, Nicolai. Sniper. Norton. May 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780393082111. $24.95. LITERARY
Lilin grew up in Transnistria, a remote area between Ukraine and Moldova that declared its independence in 1990 but has never been recognized. He recalled his upbringing there in the traditionally antiauthority Urka community, also home to honor-bound criminals exiled by Stalin, in Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld‚ a book some readers saw as hypnotic anthropological study and others thought might be fiction. This book about a sniper with the Russian military during the battle over Chechnya really is fiction, though Lilin draws on his own experience as soldier conscripted to fight against the Chechens. Presented as an antiwar novel for our time.

McGarrity, Michael. Hard Country. Dutton. May 2012. 608p. ISBN 9780525952466. $28.95. HISTORICAL
A former Santa Fe County deputy sheriff and Anthony Award‚ nominated author of the Kevin Kerney novels, McGarrity here offers a saga of the Southwest starting in 1875. After his wife dies in childbirth and his brother is killed on the West Texas plains, John Kerney must give up his ranch and go hunt for the killers‚ and a place where he and his newborn son can start over. Along the way, he’s offered work on a cattle drive heading to New Mexico Territory that changes everything. A plain-spoken novel that will appeal to readers interested in historical fiction and fiction about the American West.

Perillo, Lucia. Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain: Stories. Norton. May 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780393083538. $23.95. SHORT STORIES
A MacArthur Fellow who has authored five books of poetry, including Pulitzer Prize finalist Inseminating the Elephant, Perillo makes her fiction debut with this story collection. Set in the Pacific Northwest, the stories feature characters that resist expectations, like the bereft woman comforted by tales of armed robbery or the single mother who refuses to answer questions about her daughter’s paternity. A recurring character, a woman with Down syndrome, plays a crucial role in the lives of her younger sister and vengeful father. Given what I know of Perillo’s smart and sassy poetry, I’m really anticipating this collection.

Trigiani, Adriana. The Shoemaker’s Wife. Harper: HarperCollins. May 2012. 448p. ISBN 9780061257094. $26.99. CD: Harper Audio. HISTORICAL FICTION
Always juicy, Trigiani writes really big in her latest novel, following lovers across two continents, several generations, and many bad turns of luck. Enza and Ciro meet as teenagers, having grown up just miles apart in the Italian Alps, but are separated when Ciro is forced to go to America. Later, Enza travels there with her father, settling in New York’s Little Italy. They meet again, but Ciro has just signed up to serve in World War I, and Enza gets a taste of the glamorous life as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera. Trigiani’s works are routinely best sellers; buy wherever she is popular. With a tour that will include the metropolitan New York area, plus Richmond, Roanoke, Washington, DC, and Youngstown.

Wallentin, Jan. Strindberg’s Star. Viking. May 2012. 464p. ISBN 9780670023578. $28.95. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Already a best seller in Sweden and France, with rights sold to nearly two dozen other countries, Stockholm journalist Wallentin’s debut blends late 1800s Arctic exploration, Nazi depredations, Norse mythology, and ancient ankhs with a contemporary murder story. Don Titelman, a religious symbols expert (shades of The Da Vinci Code) goes to visit cave diver Erik Hall, who has found a corpse wearing an ankh buried in an abandoned mineshaft. But he finds Erik dead, and soon he’s on the run, suspected of murder. A reasonable amount of enthusiasm about this one‚ the author is even being brought over for a five-city tour‚ so get for your thriller fans.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @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.