Ann Hood, Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman, Hilary Mantel, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Sept. 2014, Pt. 3

Hood, Ann. An Italian Wife. Norton. Sept. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780393241662. $25.95. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
Winner of the Paul Bowles Prize for Short Fiction and the Best American Spiritual Writing hoodannAward, among other honors, Hood seems primed to write a multigenerational saga with a quest at its heart. At the turn of the 20th century, Josephine Rimaldi finds herself in an arranged marriage and follows the husband she doesn’t love from Italy to America, where she eventually gives birth to seven children. She must surrender the last one, the result of a passionate affair, and as the narrative moves from the disruptions of World War I to the suburban-soaked Fifties to the rebellious Sixties, Josephine searches for her lost child. An East Coast tour will take Hood to Philadelphia, New York City, Vermont, Providence, and Boston.

Kellerman, Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman. The Golem of Hollywood. Putnam. Sept. 2014. 560p. ISBN 9780399162367. $27.95. CD: Penguin Random Audio. THRILLER
It’s not every thriller that features the Golem of Prague, created by a 16th-century rabbi from inanimate matter for the express purpose of protecting the Jews. And there are more surprises here. Det. Jacob Lev awakens in bed with a mysterious woman he doesn’t recall picking up, but then she vanishes. Meanwhile, having been assigned to the equally mysterious Special Projects Department, he is sent to investigate a murder in the Hollywood hills that has left behind only a neatly severed head and the Hebrew word for justice scorched into the kitchen counter. Jonathan Kellerman, the Edgar/Shamus award winner and multimillion-copy best-selling author of the Alex Delaware series, joins with son Jesse, an Edgar nominee, to write suspense with a difference.

Lawson Timmer, Julie. Five Days Left. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780399167348. $26.95. CD: Penguin Random Audio. POP FICTION
A devoted wife and adoptive mother as well as a top-notch lawyer, Mara Nichols is losing her battle with a fatal disease and plans to spare everyone by saying good-bye quickly. Meanwhile, middle-school teacher Scott Coffman doesn’t want to say good-bye to the eight-year-old boy he’s been halffomredfostering, though with the imminent release of the boy’s mother from jail they will have just a few more days together. This debut novel about love, loss, and the power of relationships has attracted some early raves, and rights have been sold to 12 countries.

McBride, Eimear. A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing. Coffee House. Sept. 2014. 270p. ISBN 9781566893688. $24. LITERARY
An outrageously smart and on-the-edge narrative that was shopped around for nine years but rejected as too experimental until its purchase by tiny Galley Beggar Press in the U.K., this debut novel by Irish author McBride, who now lives in England, won the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize and was nominated for the inaugural Folio Prize as well. McBride takes us into the mind of a young woman coping with a brother suffering from a brain tumor even as she sorts through all the standard coming-of-age stresses. The writing is breathtaking; your introduction to the next big literary author.

Mantel, Hilary. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories. Holt. Sept. Hilary Mantel MB 2009 Winner (Author)2014. 208p. ISBN 9781627792103. $26. SHORT STORIES
Mantel received the Man Booker Prize for both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the first two installments in her unprecedented Thomas Cromwell trilogy, which also won the National Book Critics Circle and Costa Book of the Year award, respectively, and sold over a million copies across formats. Now she’s keeping us busy with a story collection as we await the trilogy’s closing title. Lots of fresh stuff here; the title story is newly minted, many other pieces will not be familiar to American readers, and the contents range widely from ghost story to vampire scarefest to packed tales of personal, familial, and social crisis. Unbeatable.

Meenaweera, Nayomi. Island of a Thousand Mirrors. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781250043931. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466842274. LITERARY
From a loving and well-to-do family that belongs to Sri Lanka’s dominant Sinhala ethnic group, Yasodhara leads a contented life in her island nation’s largest city, Colombo, until civil war explodes and her family flees to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the conflict, Saraswathie dreams of becoming a teacher, but arrest by Sinhala soldiers sets her life on a islandofathousanddifferent course. Winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize for Asia and longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, this debut novel is being compared to Michael Ondaatjee’s Anil’s Ghost and is getting a fierce publicity push.

Moss, Todd. The Golden Hour. Putnam. Sept 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780399168604. $26.95. THRILLER
Appointed director of the newly formed State Department Crisis Reaction Unit, Judd Ryker finds himself contending with sharp competition among State, Defense, White House, and CIA personnel even before a coup erupts in Mali. It’s the Golden Hour—the 100 hours after a coup when diplomacy or military action might bring a reversal—and Ryker is finding out whom he can trust as he scurries to control events. What makes this debut thriller especially intriguing—and authentic—is that Moss once served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs, handling U.S. relations with 16 West African nations. While he was dreaming up a fictive coup in Mali, the actual coup took place. We have much to learn from this book.


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.