Ball, Forna, Frazier, Mayes, & Nesbø | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Mar./Apr. 2018

Ball, Jesse. Census. Ecco. Mar. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9780062676139. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062676153. LITERARY
A Granta Best of Young American Novelists, NYPL Young Lion, and Plimpton Prize winner whose A Cure for Suicide was long-listed for the National Book Award, Ball gets a chance to break out with this affecting story, already getting in-house raves. A widower who learns that he has only a short time to live worries about the son he loves deeply, who has Down syndrome, and hopes he can give the two of them more time together by signing up as a census taker for a mysterious governmental bureau. The road trip that results leaves him with as many questions as answers. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Forna, Aminatta. Happiness. Atlantic Monthly. Mar. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780802127556. $26. LITERARY
There’s a frisky fox trotting across London’s Waterloo Bridge, which causes American scientist Jean and Ghanaian psychiatrist Attila to bang into each other, with fortunate results. Attila, in town to deliver a speech on trauma, is also hunting for the young son of a friend’s daughter, who has been caught up in an immigration raid. Jean organizes her network of volunteer fox spotters to help in the hunt, and a deep friendship develops between Jean and Attila. From a Donald Windham–Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prize winner whose titles routinely get best-booked; look for a ten-city tour to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

Frazier, Charles Varina. Ecco. Apr. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780062405982. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062406002. lrg. prnt. CD: Harper Audio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
In this fourth novel, Frazier revisits the territory that made Cold Mountain a blockbuster best seller, taking us into the heart of the Confederacy with the story of Jefferson Davis’s wife, Varina. She married Mississippi landowner Davis for security, then found herself plunged into politics and war; the novel shows her gathering her children at war’s end and fleeing south from Richmond, with “bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit.” No matter what you do in life, there are consequences. With a 500,000-copy first printing; a ten- to 12-city tour.

Mayes, Frances. Women in Sunlight. Crown. Apr. 2018. 448p. ISBN 9780451497666. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780451497680. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio.  WOMEN’S FICTION
Fans will be delighted that Mayes again puts them Under the Tuscan Sun, where American writer Kit Raine is now living. (Some 1.6 million copies of Mayes’s most popular book are out there in some format.) The biography of a close friend that Kit is writing has begun to weigh, and she’s perhaps gratefully distracted when Julia, Camille, and Susan lease a beautiful old house in Tuscany, ready for an Italian adventure that might not go as planned. At least they have Kit to lean on. Sun and fun, food and friendship—you can’t go wrong.

Nesbø, Jo. Macbeth. Hogarth. Apr. 2018. 464p. ISBN 9780553419054. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780553419061. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio.  LITERARY
Up next in the imaginative and sometimes New York Times best-selling Hogarth Shakespeare series: international crime fiction phenomenon Nesbø reenvisioning the icy-dark Macbeth. In a rundown industrial town in the 1970s, drug dealer Hekate, her product overseen by a crew of weird sisters, tells Inspector Macbeth that one day he’ll replace upright chief of police Duncan. Macbeth’s lover, a casino owner named Lady, knows exactly what must happen to Duncan and his loyal assistant chief, Malcolm, to make that prediction come true.

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.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind