From Emma Hooper to Anne Tyler | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Aug. 2018

Hartsuyker, Linnea. The Sea Queen. Harper. Aug. 2018. 464p. ISBN 9780062563736. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062563750. HISTORICAL
In The Half-Drowned King, Hartsukyer’s debut and the first in a trilogy vivifying Norse history, Ragnvald Eysteinsson threw in his lot with Harald of Vestfold, who would become king of a unified Norway. Here, Ragnvald is king of Sogn and still serves Harald as he battles with recalcitrant noblemen to create a larger country. The Half-Drowned King was a star catcher and a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick. With a big library push.

Hooper, Emma. Our Homesick Songs. S. & S. Aug. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781501124488. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501124525. LITERARY
Fans of Hooper’s sparkling international best seller, Etta and Otto and Russell and James, will be anticipating this follow-up, set in a picturesque fishing village that has lost all its fish. While most residents have moved, the Connors stay put, with the parents working at an energy site up north, son Finn trying to figure out where the fish went, and daughter Cora, who’s been whimsically decorating the village’s deserted houses, determined to save the town.

O’Connor, Nuala. Becoming Belle. Putnam. Aug. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780735214408. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780735214422. Downloadable. HISTORICAL
An award winner for her poetry and short stories, O’Connor (who also writes as Nuala Ní Chonchúir) offered a wonderful told-slant view of Emily Dickinson in Miss Emily, which was long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award. Here she remakes another historical figure, Isabel Bilton, who started out middle class and ended up as the Countess of Clancarty by 1891. In between: adventures in Victorian London’s music halls.

Peebles, Frances de Pontes. The Air You Breathe. Riverhead. Aug. 2018. 464p. ISBN 9780735210998. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780735211018. Downloadable. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
Having hooked readers with her award-winning debut, The Seamstress, Peebles returns with a story set in her native Brazil. In the 1930s, two girls—have-it-all Graça, the daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, and orphaned nine-year-old Dores, who works in the plantation kitchen—bond over a love of music and end up traveling together to Rio de Janeiro and finally Golden Age Hollywood in a quest for stardom that only one will attain. Big in-house excitement.

Solares, Martin. Don’t Send Flowers. Black Cat: Grove. Aug. 2018. 288p. tr. from Spanish by Heather Cleary. ISBN 9780802128157. pap. $16. LITERARY NOIR
Mexico City–based Solares debuted with The Black Minutes, a finalist for France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (awarded for crime fiction) and the Rómulo Gallegos Prize, which boasts Gabriel García Márquez and Roberto Bolaño among its winners. Here, dark doings in Mexico are again refracted through Solares’s literary sensibility as Carlos Treviño tracks down a kidnapped 17-year-old girl for her wealthy parents. In the Gulf Coast town of La Eternidad, where he lands, he must avoid a police chief in the pay of the cartels who also has it in for Treviño.

Tokarczuk, Olga. Flights. Riverhead. Aug. 2018. 416p. tr. from Polish by Jennifer Croft. ISBN 9780525534198. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525534211. Downloadable. LITERARY
Twice winner of Poland’s top literary award and a big name in European literature, Tokarczuk is given a strong presentation here with a novel of ideas blending disparate fragments, from a woman bearing Chopin’s heart back to Poland, to a man driven mad by the disappearance and sudden reappearance of his wife and child, to a vacationer reading French-Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran. It’s all tied together by the bieguni, or wanderers, a mysterious Slavic sect whose members are determined never to be pinned down. Not for the plot-obsessed, but I can’t wait to read.

Tyler, Anne. Clock Dance. Knopf. Aug. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780525521228. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525521235. CD/downloadable. LITERARY
From her mother’s early-on disappearance to widowhood at a young age, Willa Drake has had some upheavals in her life; now she would be happy just to become a grandmother. But when her son’s ex-girlfriend is shot, she rushes cross-country to tend to her and her nine-year-old daughter. There she learns how a community can bond as closely as family, how solace can be found in small, unexpected places, and how rebirth can come from pain. From ever-ticking Pulitzer Prize winner Tyler; with a 250,000-copy first printing.

Wilson, Kevin. Baby, You’re Gonna Be Mine: Stories. Ecco. Aug. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780062450524. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062450685. SHORT STORIES
Wilson thrilled readers with his novels The Family Fang, a spot-on New York Times best seller and multi-best-booked title made into a film, and the TV-optioned Perfect Little World. But he launched his career with the short story collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, winner of both Alex and Shirley Jackson awards. Starting with the title story, about a self-absorbed rock star compelled by hard times to move home, Wilson again has his way with the story form, dreaming up weird and wonderful scenarios. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @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.

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