From Peter Ho Davies to Rose Tremain | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Sept. 2016, Pt. 4

Davies, Peter Ho. Tell It Slant. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9780544263703. $27. LITERARY
The son of a Welsh father and a Chinese mother, Davies won multiple awards for his first story daviescollection and was proclaimed among the Best Young British Novelists by Granta. His first novel, The Welsh Girl, was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. In this second novel, whose title conflates Emily Dickinson’s famous phrase and an ugly racial slur, Davies explores the Chinese American immigrant experience through the lives of a railroad baron’s valet, Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star, the victim of a hate crime, and a biracial writer visiting China with the intention of adopting. With a 40,000-copy first printing and a six-city tour to New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Ann Arbor, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Dev, Sonali. A Change of Heart. Kensington. Sept. 2016. 352p. ISBN 9781496705747. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781496705754. WOMEN’S FICTION
Dev’s first two novels popped up on numerous best-of lists in the past two years, with A Bollywood Affair also an ALA Reading List winner in romance, a RITA best debut nominee, and one of NPR’s 100 Most Swoon-Worthy Romances of All Time. Despite those romance bona fides, Dev’s books have been passed on to me to assign as literary fiction, which says something about the writing. Here Dev expands her purview with the story of Dr. Nikhil “Nic” Joshi, who’s working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum when his wife, Jen, is killed after discovering a black-market organ transplant ring. Two years later, Nic is serving soddenly as a cruise ship doctor when he encounters a woman who claims to have received Jen’s heart devin a transplant. And she knows something about that black-market ring. Look for Dev at LJ’s forthcoming Day of Dialog.

Forman, Gayle. Leave Me. Algonquin. Sept. 2016. 352p. ISBN 9781616206178. $26.95. WOMEN’S FICTION
Forman, a best-selling YA author whose If I Stay won the 2009 NAIBA Book of the Year Award, goes adult with this story of working mother Maribeth Klein, so frantically attending to the demands of others that she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack. Finally diagnosed, she’s bothered that her recuperation seems like an imposition on both colleagues and family, and she packs her bags and leaves. But her life looks very different from a more distant, solitary perspective, and she starts owning up to secrets that might have been doing some damage. Look for Forman at LJ’s forthcoming Day of Dialog.

Hiaasen, Carl. Razor Girl. Knopf. Sept. 2016. 352p. ISBN 9780385349741. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385349758. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. THRILLER
Since this is Hiaasen, expect wild characters, starting with Razor Girl (aka Merry Mansfield), perpetrator of car-crash scams and linked to Andrew Yancy, who lost his detective badge after razorgirlDust-Busting his ex-lover’s husband and is now a restaurant inspector in Key West. As Andrew seeks to reclaim his old job by solving a murder, we encounter a trickster whose company, Sedimental Journeys, steals sand from well-groomed beaches to restore eroded ones; a New York mafioso who favors bright, tropical garb; a onetime Wisconsin accordionist starring in a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren; and more. With a 300,000-copy first printing and a nine-city tour tentatively including Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Konar, Affinity. Mischling. Lee Boudreaux: Little, Brown. Sept. 2016. 352p. ISBN 9780316308106. $27. CD: Hachette Audio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
Lots of push is planned for this painfully startling debut featuring twin sisters Pearl and Stasha, who arrive at Auschwitz in 1944 and become part of what is called Mengele’s Zoo, referencing Dr. Josef Mengele, the notorious SS officer and physician at the camp. With other twins, the girls are subject to horrific medical experimentation, and as their identities are slowly altered, Pearl finally vanishes. After liberation, Stasha joins forces with another young survivor, and together they hunt for Pearl through the wreckage of Poland. Based on a true story; with a 150,000-copy first printing.

Modiano, Patrick. The Black Notebook. Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2016. 144p. tr. from French by Mark Polizzotti. ISBN 9780544779822. pap. $15.95. LITERARY
Published in France in 2012, this atmospheric novel exemplifies the work of Nobel Prize winner modiano Modiano. Following Algeria’s war of independence, a young writer named Jean wanders through Paris, eventually falling in love with a mysterious woman named Danny. Because Danny is linked to a group of shady characters who seemingly have committed a singular crime, Jean soon finds himself being interviewed by a detective. Years later, with the help of a notebook he kept, Jean tries to reconstruct this time in his life—and, not unexpectedly, as this is Modiano, Jean’s notebook and memories are cobwebby at best. The plot ultimately has its roots in the notorious 1965 kidnapping of a North African political activist. Not a huge first printing but essential for sophisticated readers.

Stewart, Amy S. Lady Cop Makes Trouble. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780544409941. $26. HISTORICAL
After Girl Waits with Gun, one of the big debut successes of 2015 (it was a LibraryReads pick, among other things), Stewart returns with Constance Kopp, among the country’s first female deputy sheriffs. Here, a German-speaking con man makes things hard for Constance, who tracks down victims and leads in World War I–era New York while befriending reporters and lawyers at a hotel for women. Sisters Norma and Fleurette are a big help—when they’re not training pigeons for the war effort. With a 50,000-copy first printing and a tour that will spin through New York, New Jersey, Boston, Denver, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Los Angeles, tremainSeattle, and Portland.

Tremain, Rose. The Gustav Sonata. Norton. Sept. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9780393246698. $26.95. LITERARY
Good news: penetrating British author Tremain, who claims Whitbread and Orange honors and is perhaps best known for her Booker short-listed Restoration, returns with another novel. Her protagonist is Gustav Perle, who grows up in a small Swiss town during World War II, much devoted to his strict and distant mother. Gustav befriends a Jewish boy named Anton Zweibel, who’s well on his way to becoming a concert pianist, and the narrative tracks backward and forward as it examines their friendship, lives, careers, and a crucial act of conscience during the war that changes everything.

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.