Fiction Previews, May 2013, Pt. 3: Award-Worthy Fiction from Cristina García, Icelandic Phenom Sjón, and More

de Kretser, Michelle. Questions of Travel. Little, Brown. May 2013. 512p. ISBN   978-0316219228. $25.99. LITERARY FICTION
Raised by a cold father, the artistically inclined Laura has traveled the world, then returned home to Sydney, Australia, to work for a travel guide. Exiled from Sri Lanka, Ravi wants only a glance around Australia before settling down to work. The two meet along the way to figuring out where and how they belong in this world. Sri Lankan de Krester, a longtime resident of Australia, won Australia’s “Book of the Year” Award, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and the Gold Medal from the Australian Literary Society for The Lost Dog, which was also longlisted for both the Booker and the Orange Prize. That’s some recommendation.

García, Cristina. King of Cuba. Scribner. May 2013. 245p. ISBN 9781476710242. $25. LITERARY FICTION
Even as the graying dictator El Comandante mopes about his Havana mansion, recalling the glory days of his revolution, Miami exile Goyo Herrera is getting set for revenge; El Comandante destroyed his homeland, killed his father, and stole his beloved. Even if she isn’t naming Castro, the author of Dreaming in Cuban, a National Book Award finalist, again looks to capture the mainland/island split personality of Cuban reality today.

Hacker, Christopher. The Morels. Soho. May 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781616952433. $25.95. LITERARY FICTION
Why would a man happily married and with an admirable young son publish a book that tears his family apart? That’s the question aspiring filmmaker Chris asks as he considers former classmate Arthur Morel. Hacker considers how far you should go in the name of art and just where the line falls between instructive honesty and crass commercialism. A first novel from a Pushcart Prize finalist that bears watching.

Hershon, Joanna. A Dual Inheritance. Ballantine. May 2013. 496p. ISBN 9780345468475. $26; eISBN 9780345538802. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY FICTION
Ed, a smart, ambitious social whirlwind, is a Jewish boy on scholarship, while Boston Brahmin Hugh hides his heart. But in the decades since they met at Harvard, they’ve been fast friends. Shortlisted for the O. Henry prizes, Hershon is a thoughtful writer who should sketch both character and context admirably.

Pron, Patricio. My Fathers’ Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain. Knopf. May 2013. tr. from Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem. 224p. ISBN 9780307700681; eISBN 9780307962270. $24. LITERARY FICTION
The winner of numerous prizes, including the Juan Rulfo Short Story Prize, and one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists, Pron finally makes his American debut. He draws on his background as the child of revolutionary parents to recount the story of a young writer who has returned to Argentina from abroad to say good-bye to his dying father. At his father’s house, he unearths documents about a local man who disappeared and finds himself drawn into Argentina’s dark past, when the military regime terrorized the populace. Already published or about to be published in a half-dozen countries.

Sjón. The Whispering Muse. Farrar. May 2013. tr. from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. 160p. ISBN 9780374289072. $22.  LITERARY FICTION
A multi-threat, multi-award-winning author who’s served as president of the Icelandic PEN Centre and chair of the board of Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature, Sjón (a pen name meaning “sight”) has other, unexpected credentials. He has written songs for Björk and was an Oscar nominee for the lyrics he cowrote for Dancer in the Dark. Here, it’s 1949, and fish-obsessed Icelander Valdimar Haraldsson excitedly boards a Danish merchant ship whose second mate just happens to be the mystical hero Caeneus of Argonaut fame. World-class author Sjón has fans ranging from Junot Díaz to A.S. Byatt, so investigate for your smart readers; his The Blue Fox and From the Mouth of the Whale will appear in paperback simultaneously.


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.