Charles Baxter, Sara Blaedel, Nick Hornby, Reif Larsen, Peter Swanson, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2015, Pt. 4

Baxter, Charles. There’s Something I Want You To Do. Pantheon. Feb. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9781101870013. $24; ebk. ISBN ISBN 9781101870020. SHORT STORIES
A National Book Award nominee for The Feast of Love, Baxter returns with his first story collection in 15 years. Piercingly elegant, as always, the stories are divided into two sections, one baxterembodying virtues (e.g., “Loyalty,” whose protagonist sweetly takes in his ex-wife–turned–bag lady) and the other vice (e.g., “Lust,” about a man struggling with the breakup of a relationship even as he tries to comfort a dying friend with lascivious talk). The settings range from Ethiopia to San Francisco, though Minneapolis figures in many pieces, and the characters are indelibly drawn.

Blaedel, Sara. The Forgotten Girls. Grand Central. Feb. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781455581528. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455581504. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455532926. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. SUSPENSE
Blaedel is the Danish crime queen (Danish crime king Jussi Adler-Olsen was featured last week with The Alphabet House), and she’s offering the next Det. Louise Rick/Camilla Lind title to be published here. Seeking to identify a dead woman found in the forest, Rick releases a photo to the media, which yields a call from a woman who claims that the victim is Lisemette, one of the long-ago “forgotten girls” she once cared for at a mental hospital. But according to official records, Lisemette and her twin have been dead for over 30 years. Big buzz at BEA and a No. 1 best seller in Denmark, where it has sold over 100,000 copies.

Hornby, Nick. Funny Girl. Riverhead. Feb. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9781594205415. $27.95. CD: Penguin Audio. LITERARY FICTION
This first new novel from Hornby in five years comes at an auspicious time: the film version of A Long Way Down, based on his Whitbread Award finalist, came out this summer; the NBC series About a Boy, based on his 1998 novel and previously a film, is taking off; and he wrote the screenplay for the film version of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, which stars Reese Witherspoon. And the book sounds like so much fun. Set in Swinging Sixties London, it features from-the-sticks Sophie Straw, who turns herself into a television starlet—and meets a lot of colorful people along the way.

Larsen, Reif. I Am Radar. Penguin Pr. Feb. 2015. 656p. ISBN 9781594206160. $29.95. LITERARY FICTION
In this follow-up to Larsen’s audacious, genre-bending debut, The Selected Works of T.S. larsenSpivet, a New York Times best seller short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and now a film, a black child is inexplicably born to white parents in 1975 and raised in suburban New Jersey. But his life jumps time and space barriers as he becomes involved with a clandestine group of puppeteers and scientists who stage experimental performances in war-torn areas: the shattering Balkans, Nazi-occupied Norway, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and more. Reportedly a big bidding war.

Mantel, Hilary & Mike Poulton (adapter). Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation. Picador. Feb. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781250064172. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781250064189. DRAMA
Mantel’s Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009 and 2012, respectively, and have together sold three million copies in 36 languages. No wonder Poulton, noted for adaptations and translations ranging from Ibsen’s Rosmersholm to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, wanted to bring it to the stage. The results were premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company in December 2013 to generally rapturous reviews. Here’s the complete text of both plays, with notes from Mantel on the principal characters; look for a North American production in 2015.

Oksanen, Sofi. When the Doves Disappeared. Knopf. Feb. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780385350174. 25.95; ebk. ISBN: 9780385350181. Downloadable: Random Audio. oksanenLITERARY/HISTORICAL
Oksanen sells more books in her native Finland than J.K. Rowing; her current title was a No. 1 best seller there and in Sweden and has been sold to 29 countries. She’s received awards from the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize to the European Book Prize, and Purge, her first novel to be translated into English, was both an IndieBound and a Discover Great New Writers pick. All of which bodes well for this tale of resistance, collaboration, and totalitarian control in 1940s Estonia, where freedom fighter Roland goes into hiding even as his self-serving cousin Edgar backs the invading Germans. Later, in the 1960s, Soviet apparatchik Edgar is desperate to keep his past submerged. Those titular disappearing doves, much missed by the Estonians? The German soldiers ate them.

Rapp, Adam. Know Your Beholder. Little, Brown. Feb. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780316368919. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316368902. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316294799. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. HUMOROUS FICTION
A Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama, recipient of awards from PEN and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, noted screenwriter/director (Winter Passing), and author of The Year of Endless Sorrows, Rapp is nothing like his protagonist, washed-up rock musician Francis Falbo. Francis is stuck in his bathrobe in the attic apartment of his childhood home, mourning his mother’s death, his wife’s desertion, and the breakup of his band. He rents the other rooms to an intriguingly nutty bunch, with consequences chaotic and, ultimately, heartening.

Swanson, Peter. The Kind Worth Killing. Morrow. Feb. 2015. 325p. ISBN 9780062267528. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062267542. LITERARY THRILLER
Swanson’s rivetingly creepy The Girl with a Clock for a Heart was declared crime fiction’s best first novel of 2014 by the Washington Post and has been optioned for film. In his promising new work, also optioned, Ted Severson is flying from London to Boston when he gets into an intense tremaintête-à-tête with striking but enigmatic Lily Kintner, finally blurting out that he could just kill his wife. When Lily coolly replies that she’d like to help, a murder plot is born—but is Ted now in danger, too? With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Tremain. Rose. The American Lover. Norton. Feb. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780393246711. $25.95. SHORT STORIES
Author of the Orange Prize–winning The Road Home and the Man Booker–shortlisted Restoration, Tremain returns with a story collection full of telling personal moments: a woman recalls a forbidden love affair in 1960s Paris, another must choose between passion and wealth, one man plans to improve his prospects by building dog kennels while another escapes family drudgery with a long swim in a Canadian lake, and a Polish housekeeper meets a reserved Daphne du Maurier.

Treuer, David. Prudence. Riverhead. Feb. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781594633089. $27.95. LITERARY FICTIONtreuer
In August 1942, Frankie Washburn revisits his Minnesota family before joining the war effort, saying good-bye to family, friends, and the Native American caretaker he holds dear. This poignant leave-taking is interrupted by a terrible act of violence following a German POW ‘s escape from a nearby camp. An Ojibwe from Minnesota’s Leech Lake Reservation (his mother if Ojibwe and his father an Austrian Jewish survivor of the Holocaust), Pushcart Prize winner Treuer (The Translation of Dr. Apelles) wants to engage Native Americans and their literature with the larger world. A sort of Native American Atonement, says the publisher, and if that doesn’t grab your attention nothing will.

Prepub Alert is taking a vacation on Monday, September 1, and will be back Monday, September 8.


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.