Kent Haruf, Erika Johansen, Stephen King, Milan Kundera, S.J. Watson | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Jun. 2015, Pt. 1

Haruf, Kent. Our Souls at Night. Knopf. Jun. 2015. 176p. ISBN 9781101875896. $23.95. LITERARY/FAMILY LIFE
Haruf, who died Sunday aged 71, laid claim to impressive awards (e.g., Whiting Writers’ Award, the Wallace Stegner Award) and nominations (the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), and his Plainsong, Eventide, and Benediction have sold 1.4 million copies combined. But the best word for his work would probably be beloved, and his winning meditative-cozy approach continues in another novel set in Holt, CO. Widower Louis Waters is initially thrown when the widowed Addie Moore suggests that they spend time together, in bed, to talk and to stave off loneliness. Soon they are exchanging the confidences and memories that form the rich undercurrent of this work, then find a new mission as Addie takes on her six-year-old grandson, tearlingJamie, for a summer of discovery. [Ed note: this entry was amended to reflect Haruf’s death on 11/30/14]

Johansen, Erika. The Invasion of the Tearling. Harper. Jun. 2105. 480p. ISBN 9780062290397. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062290403. FANTASY
In Johansen’s career kickoff, The Queen of the Tearling—a LibraryReads pick acquired by nearly 20 countries worldwide and in development as a Warner Bros. film—Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn returns to the land of her birth to reclaim her throne. Now, Kelsea is getting used to ruling, but she’s facing big trouble after refusing to send prisoners to Mortmesne’s Red Queen, who’s sending an army into the Tearling to claim what she’s been denied. As war nears, Kelsea is developing a strange psychic connection across time with a woman named Lily, which could help save the Tearling—if only Kelsea could figure out what it all means. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

King, Stephen. Finders Keepers. Scribner. Jun. 2015. 448p. ISBN 9781501100079. $30. SUSPENSE
Misery loves company. Here’s another book from top-of-the-heap King about the dangers of an obsessive reader. Morris Bellamy is so angry that John Rothstein hasn’t produced anything for decades—and that his iconic hero, Jimmy Gold, went from rebel to advertising maven—that he kills Rothstein and steals the contents of his safe, including notebooks containing another Jimmy Gold novel. Then Morris is jailed (he’s one dangerous book lover), and the notebooks are unearthed by a lad named Pete Sauberg, who’s in one heap of trouble when Morris is released.kundera

Kundera, Milan. The Festival of Insignificance. Harper. Jun. 2015. 128p. ISBN 9780062356895. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062388230. LITERARY
Brief but undoubtedly potent, this new work by the immortal Kundera features four friends in contemporary Paris who encounter one another at parties and at the Luxembourg Gardens and talk, talk, talk (they’re French, after all) about sex, history, art, politics, and the meaning of life. One obsesses on the exposed navels of fashionably dressed women passing by, another bemoans the terminal cancer he doesn’t have, still another proposes that they acknowledge and celebrate their own insignificance. Along the way, self-importance—from Stalinist times until now—gets most darkly, amusingly drubbed. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Watson, S.J. Second Life. Harper. Jun. 2015. 432p. ISBN 9780062060587. $26.99. SUSPENSE
Watson’s debut, Before I Go To Sleep, definitely did not put readers to sleep; it has sold a half million copies in hardcover, paperback, and ebook combined in 42 territories since its publication in 2011 and won the Crime Writers Association Award for Best Debut Novel. Now he’s back with another veritable chiller. When Julie discovers that her murdered sister had been living a second life in the dark and dangerous corners of cyberspace, she follows her down on a hunt for clues to the killer. Instead, she finds a sexual playground that gives her fantasies free rein, which maybe isn’t so smart. What is it about that charmer named Lukas she meets in a chat room? With a 350,000-copy first printing.


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.