September 2023: Humorous novels
Swamp Story by Dave Barry
Jesse Braddock is trapped in a tiny cabin deep in the Everglades with her infant daughter and her ex-boyfriend, a wannabe reality TV star who turned out to be a lot prettier on the outside than on the inside. Broke and desperate for a way out, Jesse stumbles across a long-lost treasure, which could solve all her problems—if she can figure out how to keep it. The problem is, some very bad men are also looking for the treasure, and they know Jesse has it. Meanwhile, Ken Bortle of Bortle Brothers Bait and Beer has hatched a scheme to lure tourists to his failing store by making viral videos of the “Everglades Melon Monster.” The Monster is in fact an unemployed alcoholic newspaperman named Phil wearing a Dora the Explorer costume head. Incredibly, this plan actually works, inspiring a horde of TikTokers to swarm into the swamp in search of the monster at the same time villains are on the hunt for Jesse’s treasure. Amid this mayhem, a presidential hopeful arrives in the Everglades to start his campaign. Needless to say, it does not go as planned. In fact, nothing in this story goes as planned. This is, after all, Florida.
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills. When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death. To get out alive they must turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman—and a killer—of a certain age.
Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley
Every day, Iona, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu. Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Bookworm and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do. Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He’d have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse, who gives him the Heimlich maneuver. This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more. It turns out that talking to strangers can teach you about the world around you--and even more about yourself.
The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel
In the heart of Greenwich Village, three women form an accidental sorority when a baby—belonging to exactly none of them—lands on their collective doorstep. Lauren and her family have been granted the use of a spectacular brownstone, with a (mostly) beloved dive called The Sweet Spot, in the basement. Within days of moving in, Lauren discovers that she has already made an enemy in the neighborhood by inadvertently sparking the divorce of a couple she has never actually met.
Melinda’s husband of thirty years has dumped her for a young celebrity entrepreneur named Felicity, and, to Melinda’s horror, the lovebirds are soon to become parents. In her incandescent rage, Melinda wreaks havoc wherever she can, including in Felicity’s Soho boutique. Olivia—the industrious twenty-something behind the counter, gets caught in the crossfire. When Melinda’s ex follows his lover across the country, leaving their squalling baby behind, the three women rise to the occasion in order to forgive, to forget, to Ferberize, and to track down the wayward parents. But can their little village find a way toward the happily ever-after they all desire? Welcome to The Sweet Spot.
The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise by Colleen Oakley
Twenty-one-year-old Tanner Quimby needs a place to live. Preferably one where she can continue sitting around in sweatpants and playing video games nineteen hours a day. Since she has no credit or money to speak of, her options are limited, so when an opportunity to work as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman falls into her lap, she takes it.
One slip on the rug. That’s all it took for Louise Wilt’s daughter to demand that Louise have a full-time nanny living with her. Never mind that she can still walk fine, finish her daily crossword puzzle, and pour the two fingers of vodka she drinks every afternoon. Bottom line: Louise wants a caretaker even less than Tanner wants to be one. The two start off their living arrangement happily ignoring each other until Tanner starts to notice things—weird things. Like, why does Louise keep her garden shed locked up tighter than a prison? And why is the local news fixated on the suspect of one of the biggest jewelry heists in American history who looks eerily like Louise? And why does Louise suddenly appear in her room, with a packed bag at 1 a.m. insisting that they leave town immediately? Thus begins the story of a not-to-be-underestimated elderly woman and an aimless young woman who—if they can outrun the mistakes of their past—might just have the greatest adventure of their lives.
August 2023: New Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic Fiction
Chain Gang All-stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly popular, highly controversial, profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators, and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom. In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death-matches for packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thurwar and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, she considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games. But CAPE’s corporate owners will stop at nothing to protect their status quo and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences.
Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling
In remote northern Canada, a team led by a visionary American architect is breaking ground on a building project called Camp Zero, intended to be the beginning of a new way of life. A clever and determined young woman code-named Rose is offered a chance to join the Blooms, a group hired to entertain the men in camp—but her real mission is to secretly monitor the mercurial architect in charge. In return, she’ll receive a home for her climate-displaced Korean immigrant mother and herself. Rose quickly secures the trust of her target, only to discover that everyone has a hidden agenda, and nothing is as it seems. Through skillfully braided perspectives, including those of a young professor longing to escape his wealthy family and an all-woman military research unit struggling for survival at a climate station, the fate of Camp Zero’s inhabitants reaches a stunning crescendo.
The Last Beekeeper by Julie Carrick Dalton
It’s been more than a decade since the world has come undone, and Sasha Severn has returned to her childhood home with one goal in mind—find the mythic research her father, the infamous Last Beekeeper, hid before he was incarcerated. There, Sasha is confronted with a group of squatters who have claimed the quiet, idyllic farm as their own. While she initially feels threatened, the group soon becomes her newfound family, offering what she hasn't felt since her father was imprisoned: security and hope. Maybe it's time to forget the family secrets buried on the farm and focus on her future. But just as she settles into her new life, Sasha witnesses the impossible. She sees a honeybee, presumed extinct. People who claim to see bees are ridiculed and silenced for reasons Sasha doesn't understand, but she can't shake the feeling that this impossible bee is connected to her father's missing research. Fighting to uncover the truth could shatter Sasha's fragile security and threaten the lives of her newfound family—or it could save them all.
The Memory of Animals by Claire Fuller
In the face of a pandemic, an unprepared world scrambles to escape the mysterious disease that causes sensory damage, nerve loss, and, in most cases, death. Neffy, a disgraced and desperately indebted twenty-seven-year-old marine biologist, registers for an experimental vaccine trial in London--perhaps humanity's last hope for a cure. Though isolated from the chaos outside, she and the other volunteers--Rachel, Leon, Yahiko, and Piper--cannot hide from the mistakes that led them there. As London descends into chaos outside the hospital windows, Neffy befriends Leon, who before the pandemic had been working on a controversial technology that allows users to revisit their memories. She withdraws into projections of her past--a childhood bisected by divorce, a recent love affair, her obsessive research with octopuses and the one mistake that ended her career. The lines between past, present, and future begin to blur, and Neffy is left with defining questions: Who can she trust? Why can't she forgive herself? How should she live, if she survives?
Lark Ascending by Silas House
With fires devastating much of America, Lark and his family first leave their home in Maryland for Maine. But as the country increasingly falls under the grip of religious nationalism, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe, not just from physical disasters but also persecution. The family secures a place on a crowded boat headed to Ireland, the last place on earth rumored to be accepting American refugees.
Upon arrival, it turns out that the safe harbor of Ireland no longer exists either—and Lark, the sole survivor of the trans-Atlantic voyage, must disappear into the countryside. As he runs for his life, Lark finds two equally lost and desperate souls: one of the last remaining dogs, who becomes his closest companion, and a fierce, mysterious woman in search of her lost son. Together they form a makeshift family and attempt to reach Glendalough, a place they believe will offer protection. But can any community provide the safety that they seek?
JUNE 2023: Summer Reads
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sally Milz is a sketch writer for The Night Owls, a late-night live comedy show that airs every Saturday. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love, settling instead for the occasional hook-up, career success, and a close relationship with her stepfather to round out a satisfying life. But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actress who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women. Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch that pokes fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman. Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly. But this isn’t a romantic comedy—it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her . . . right?
The Ferryman by Justin Cronin
Founded by the mysterious genius known as the Designer, the archipelago of Prospera lies hidden from the horrors of a deteriorating outside world. In this island paradise, Prospera’s lucky citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives until they retire, embarking on a ferry ride to the island known as the Nursery, where their failing bodies are renewed, their memories are wiped clean, and they are readied to restart life afresh. But something is stirring. The Support Staff, ordinary men and women who provide the labor to keep Prospera running, have begun to question their place in the social order. Unrest is building, and there are rumors spreading of a resistance group—known as “Arrivalists”—who may be fomenting revolution. Soon the citizens are questioning everything they once believed, entangled with a much bigger cause than theyrealized—and on a desperate mission to uncover the truth.
Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo
Genoa, Italy, 1946. Vincenzo and Giovanna fall in love at twenty-one the moment they set eyes on each other. The son of a count and the daughter of a tailor, they belong to opposing worlds. New York, 2017. Cassandra and Luca are in love. Although neither quite fits with the other's family, Cass and Luca have always felt like a perfect match for each other. But when Luca, an artist, convinces his grandfather and Cass’s grandmother to pose for a painting, past and present collide and reveal a secret that changes everything.
Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum
None of them would claim to be a particularly good person. But who among them is actually capable of murder? Jen Weinstein and Lauren Parker rule the town of Salcombe, Fire Island every summer. They hold sway on the beach and the tennis court and are adept at manipulating people to get what they want. Their one single friend, Rachel Woolf, is looking to meet her match, whether he’s the tennis pro—or someone else’s husband. Even with plenty to gossip about, this season starts out as quietly as any other. But everyone has secrets, and then a body is discovered, face down, off the side of the boardwalk.
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. As in, she actually lost him—he walked out on her, and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die. It turns out that being known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry. Freedom must look good on Geeta, because now other women are asking for her “expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal. What happens next sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything for all the women in their village.
May 2023: Historical Fiction
Essex Dogs by Dan Jones
Hundred Years' War. July 1346. Ten men land on the beaches of Normandy. They call themselves the Essex Dogs: an unruly platoon of archers and men-at-arms led by a battle-scarred captain whose best days are behind him. The fight for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe has begun. Heading ever deeper into enemy territory toward Crécy, this band of brothers knows they are off to fight a battle that will forge nations and shape the very fabric of human lives. But first they must survive a bloody war in which rules are abandoned and chivalry itself is slaughtered. Rooted in historical accuracy and told through an unforgettable cast, Essex Dogs delivers the stark reality of medieval war on the ground – and shines a light on the fighters and ordinary people caught in the storm.
Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls
Most folk thought Sallie Kincaid was a nobody who’d amount to nothing. Sallie had other plans. Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she is just eight years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father’s daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out. Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. That’s a lot more complicated than Sallie expected, and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger. You will fall in love with Sallie Kincaid, a feisty and fearless, terrified and damaged young woman who refuses to be corralled.
Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash
As German bombs fall over London in 1940, working-class parents Millie and Reginald Thompson make an impossible choice: they decide to send their eleven-year-old daughter, Beatrix, to America. There, she’ll live with another family for the duration of the war, where they hope she’ll stay safe. Scared and angry, feeling lonely and displaced, Bea arrives in Boston to meet the Gregorys. Mr. and Mrs. G, and their sons William and Gerald, fold Bea seamlessly into their world. Before long, before she even realizes it, life with the Gregorys feels more natural to her than the quiet, spare life with her own parents back in England. As Bea comes into herself and relaxes into her new life, the girl she had been begins to fade away, until, abruptly, she is called home to London when the war ends. As she returns to post-war London, the memory of her American family stays with her, never fully letting her go, and always pulling on her heart as she tries to move on and pursue love and a life of her own. As we follow Bea over time, navigating between her two worlds, Beyond That, the Sea emerges as a beautifully written, absorbing novel, full of grace and heartache, forgiveness and understanding, loss and love.
In Memoriam by Alice Winn
1914, and World War I is ceaselessly churning through thousands of young men on both sides of the fight. The violence of the front feels far away to Henry Gaunt, Sidney Ellwood and the rest of their classmates, safely ensconced in their idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. News of the heroic deaths of their friends only makes the war more exciting. Gaunt, half German, is busy fighting his own private battle--an all-consuming infatuation with his best friend, the glamorous, charming Ellwood--without a clue that Ellwood is pining for him in return. When Gaunt's family asks him to enlist to forestall the anti-German sentiment they face, Gaunt does so immediately, relieved to escape his overwhelming feelings for Ellwood. To Gaunt's horror, Ellwood rushes to join him at the front, and the rest of their classmates soon follow. Now death surrounds them in all its grim reality, often inches away, and no one knows who will be next. An epic tale of both the devastating tragedies of war and the forbidden romance that blooms in its grip.
Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein
Trinidad in the 1940s, nearing the end of American occupation and British colonialism. On a hill overlooking Bell Village sits the Changoor farm, where Dalton and Marlee Changoor live in luxury unrecognizable to those who reside in the farm’s shadow. Down below is the Barrack, a ramshackle building of wood and tin, divided into rooms occupied by whole families. Among these families are the Saroops—Hans, Shweta, and their son, Krishna, all three born of the barracks. Theirs are hard lives of backbreaking work, grinding poverty, devotion to faith, and a battle against nature and a social structure designed to keep them where they are. But when Dalton goes missing and Marlee’s safety is compromised, farmhand Hans is lured by the promise of a handsome stipend to move to the farm as a watchman. As the mystery of Dalton’s disappearance unfolds, the lives of the wealthy couple and those who live in the barracks below become insidiously entwined, their community changed forever and in shocking ways. A searing and singular novel of religion, class, family, and historical violence, and rooted in Trinidad’s wild pastoral landscape and inspired by oral storytelling traditions.
April 2023: Graphic Novels
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V and Filipe Andrade
Humanity is on the verge of discovering immortality. As a result, the avatar of Death is cast down to Earth to live a mortal life in Mumbai as twenty-something Laila Starr. Struggling with her newfound mortality, Laila has found a way to be placed in the time and place where the creator of immortality will be born. Will Laila take her chance to stop mankind from permanently altering the cycle of life, or will death really become a thing of the past? An Eisner-nominated, best-selling graphic novel from award-winning writer Ram V (These Savage Shores, Swamp Thing) and Filipe Andrade (Captain Marvel) that explores the fine line between living and dying through the lens of magical realism. Collects The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #1-5.
Ducks: Two years in the oil sands by Kate Beaton (a memoir)
After university, Beaton heads out west to take advantage of Alberta’s oil rush, part of the long tradition of East Coasters who seek gainful employment elsewhere when they can't find it in the homeland they love so much. With the singular goal of paying off her student loans, what the journey will actually cost Beaton will be far more than she anticipates.
Arriving in Fort McMurray, Beaton finds work in the lucrative camps owned and operated by the world’s largest oil companies. Being one of the few women among thousands of men, the culture shock is palpable. It does not hit home until she moves to a spartan, isolated worksite for higher pay. She encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet never discussed. Her wounds may never heal.
The Night Eaters: She eats the night (Book 1) by Marjorie Liu and SanaTakeda
Chinese American twins, Milly and Billy, are having a tough time. On top of the multiple failures in their personal and professional lives, they’re struggling to keep their restaurant afloat. Luckily their parents, Ipo and Keon, are in town for their annual visit. Having immigrated from Hong Kong before the twins were born, Ipo and Keon have supported their children through thick and thin and are ready to lend a hand—but they're starting to wonder, has their support made Milly and Billy incapable of standing on their own? When Ipo forces them to help her clean up the house next door—a hellish and run-down ruin that was the scene of a grisly murder—the twins are in for a nasty surprise. A night of terror, gore, and supernatural mayhem reveals that there is much more to Ipo and her children than meets the eye. Eisner Award–winning and bestselling author Marjorie Liu and illustrator Sana Takeda have crafted a wild and wicked tale that will leave readers hungry for more.
Thirsty Mermaids by Kat Leyh
The Eisner and Lambda Literary Award nominated graphic novel about a group of mermaids trapped on dry land—from prolific comic artist and writer Kat Leyh, creator of the acclaimed Snapdragon and coauthor of the bestselling Lumberjanes series. Fresh out of shipwreck wine, three tipsy mermaids decide to magically masquerade as humans and sneak onto land to indulge in much more drinking and a whole lot of fun in the heart of a local seaside tourist trap. But the good times abruptly end the next morning as the trio realizes they never actually learned how to break the spell and are now stuck on land for the foreseeable future. Which means everything from: enlisting the aid of their I-know-we-just-met-can-we-crash-with-you bartender friend, struggling to make sense of the world around them, to even trying to get a job with no skill set…all while attempting to somehow return to the sea and making the most of their current situation with tenacity and camaraderie.
Friday: The First Day of Christmas book 1 by Ed Brubaker, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente
Friday Fitzhugh spent her childhood solving crimes and digging up occult secrets with her best friend, Lancelot Jones, the smartest boy in the world. But that was the past--now she's in college, starting a new life on her own. Except when Friday comes home for the holidays, she's immediately pulled back into Lance's orbit and finds that something very strange and dangerous is happening in their little New England town...This is literally the Christmas vacation from Hell and neither of them may survive to see the New Year. This is the first volume of this new hit series from award-winning creators Ed Brubaker (Reckless, PULP, Kill or be Killed) and Marcos Martin (The Private Eye, Daredevil), with brilliant colors by Muntsa Vicente.
March 2023: Scandinavian Crime Fiction
Blaze Me a Sun: a novel about crime by Christoffer Carlsson
February 1986, the Halland police receive a call from a man who claims to have attacked his first victim. I’m going to do it again, he says before the line cuts off. By the time police officer Sven Jörgensson reaches the crime scene, the woman is taking her last breath. For Sven, this will prove a decisive moment. On the same night, Sweden plunges into a state of shock after the murder of the prime minister. Could there possibly be a connection? As Sven becomes obsessed with the case, two more fall victim. For years, Sven remains haunted by the murders he cannot solve, fearing the killer will strike again. Having failed to catch him, Sven retires from the police, passing his obsession to his son, who has joined the force to be closer to his father. Decades later, the case unexpectedly resurfaces when a novelist returns home to Halland amid a failed marriage and a sputtering career.
The Shadow Murders by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Department Q v. 9)
On her sixtieth birthday, a woman takes her own life. When the case lands on Detective Carl Mørck’s desk, he can’t imagine what this has to do with Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division since the cause of death seems apparent. However, his superior, Marcus Jacobsen, is convinced that this is related to an unsolved case that has been plaguing him since 1988. At Marcus's behest, Carl and the Department Q gang—Rose, Assad, and Gordon—reluctantly begin to investigate. And they quickly discover that Marcus is onto something: Every two years for the past three decades, there have been unusual, impeccably timed deaths with connections between them that cannot be ignored, including mysterious piles of salt at the scenes. As the investigation goes deeper, it emerges that these "accidents" are in fact part of a sinister murder scheme. Faced with their toughest case yet, made only more difficult by COVID-19 restrictions and the challenges of their personal lives, the Department Q team must race to find the culprit before the next murder is committed, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the killer is far from finished.
The Harbor by Katrine Engberg (Korner and Werner v. 3)
When fifteen-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff disappears the police assume he’s simply a runaway—a typically overlooked middle child doing what teenagers do all around the world. But his frantic family is certain that something terrible has happened. After all, what runaway would leave behind a note that reads: He looked around and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward. He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter’s work, and all that that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead, he would be free. It’s not much to go on, but it’s all that detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner have. And with every passing hour, as the odds of finding a missing person grow dimmer, it will have to be enough.
Geiger by Gustaf Skordeman
It's early summer in Stockholm. Agneta and Stellan Broman have just waved off their daughters and grandchildren when the landline phone rings. The caller says just one word: "Geiger." Agneta hangs up, finds her old pistol, kills her husband of fifty years and then disappears from their home without a trace. Sara Nowak, a police officer in the prostitution unit, is called by a colleague who is investigating the murder. Stellan was a widely loved former television presenter, and Sara grew up next door to the Bromans, spending much of her childhood in their grand house. Both the victim's daughters and Sara are devastated by the killing, and going against all regulations, Sara gets involved in the investigation. It is the beginning of a dark journey, leading back to the Cold War and fatal ideologies, and the truth about Sara's own childhood. Exciting, compelling, and full of twists you'll never see coming, Geiger is Gustaf Skördeman's incredible debut thriller.
Outside by Ragnar Jonasson
Four friends. One night. Not everyone will come out alive . . .When a deadly snowstorm strikes the Icelandic highlands, four friends seek shelter in a small, abandoned hunting lodge. It is in the middle of nowhere and there's no way of communicating with the outside world. They are isolated, but they are not alone . . . As the night darkens, and fears intensify, an old tragedy gradually surfaces - one that forever changed the course of their friendship. Those dark memories could hold the key to the mystery the friends now find themselves in, and whether they will survive until morning . . .
FEB 2023: Award winners of 2022
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
Winner of the 2022 Booker Prize The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is a searing satire set amid the mayhem of the Sri Lankan civil war. Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida—war photographer, gambler, and closet queen—has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to the photos that will rock Sri Lanka. Ten years after his prize-winning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors, Shehan Karunatilaka is back with a “thrilling satire” (Economist) and rip-roaring state-of-the-nation epic that offers equal parts mordant wit and disturbing, profound truths.
The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty
National Book Award for Fiction winner 2022• The automobile industry has abandoned Vacca Vale, Indiana, leaving the residents behind, too. In a run-down apartment building on the edge of town, commonly known as the Rabbit Hutch, a number of people now reside quietly, looking for ways to live in a dying city. Ethereally beautiful and formidably intelligent, Blandine shares her apartment with three teenage boys she neither likes nor understands, all, like her, now aged out of the state foster care system that has repeatedly failed them, all searching for meaning in their lives. Set over one sweltering week in July and culminating in a bizarre act of violence that finally changes everything, The Rabbit Hutch is a savagely beautiful and bitingly funny snapshot of contemporary America, a gorgeous and provocative tale of loneliness and longing, entrapment and, ultimately, freedom.
The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner 2022 Corbin College, not quite upstate New York, winter 1959–1960: Ruben Blum, a Jewish historian—but not an historian of the Jews—is co-opted onto a hiring committee to review the application of an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition. When Benzion Netanyahu shows up for an interview, family unexpectedly in tow, Blum plays the reluctant host to guests who proceed to lay waste to his American complacencies. Mixing fiction with nonfiction, the campus novel with the lecture, The Netanyahus is a wildly inventive, genre-bending comedy of blending, identity, and politics that finds Joshua Cohen at the height of his powers.
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
Winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Novel A Desolation Called Peace is the spectacular space opera sequel to Arkady Martine's genre-reinventing, Hugo Award-winning debut, A Memory Called Empire. An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options. In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity. Their failure will guarantee millions of deaths in an endless war. Their success might prevent Teixcalaan’s destruction—and allow the empire to continue its rapacious expansion. Or it might create something far stranger.
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction winner 2023 The swimmers are unknown to one another except through their private routines (slow lane, medium lane, fast lane) and the solace each takes in their morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, they are cast out into an unforgiving world without comfort or relief. One of these swimmers is Alice, who is slowly losing her memory. For Alice, the pool was a final stand against the darkness of her encroaching dementia. Without the fellowship of other swimmers and the routine of her daily laps she is plunged into dislocation and chaos, swept into memories of her childhood and the Japanese American incarceration camp in which she spent the war. Alice's estranged daughter, reentering her mother's life too late, witnesses her stark and devastating decline. This searing, intimate story of mothers and daughters—and the sorrows of implacable loss—is the most commanding and unforgettable work yet from a modern master.
JAN 2023: A look back at some of the best books of 2022
The Candy House by Jennifer Egan
From one of the most celebrated writers of our time, a literary figure with cult status, a "sibling novel" to her Pulitzer Prize- and NBCC Award-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad --an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the quest for authenticity and meaning in a world where memories and identities are no longer private.
Intellectually dazzling and extraordinarily moving, The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. With a focus on social media, gaming, and alternate worlds, you can almost experience moving among dimensions in a role-playing game. Egan delivers a fierce and exhilarating testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy, and redemption.
Vladimir by Julia May Jonas
A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students--a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own.
With this bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured debut, author Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and wildly entertaining, Vladimir perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire.
Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty
In twelve striking, luminescent stories, author Morgan Talty--with searing humor, abiding compassion, and deep insight--breathes life into tales of family and a community as they struggle with a painful past and an uncertain future. A boy unearths a jar that holds an old curse, which sets into motion his family's unraveling; a man, while trying to swindle some pot from a dealer, discovers a friend passed out in the woods, his hair frozen into the snow; a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer's projects the past onto her grandson; and two friends, inspired by Antiques Roadshow, attempt to rob the tribal museum for valuable root clubs.
A collection that examines the consequences and merits of inheritance, Night of the Living Rez is an unforgettable portrayal of an Indigenous community and marks the arrival of a standout talent in contemporary fiction.
The Furrows by Namwali Serpell
How do you grieve an absence? A brilliantly inventive novel about loss and belonging, from the award-winning author of The Old Drift.
Namwali Serpell's remarkable new novel captures the uncanny experience of grief, the way the past breaks over the present like waves in the sea. The Furrows is a bold exploration of memory and mourning that twists unexpectedly into a story of mistaken identity, double consciousness, and the wishful--and sometimes willful--longing for reunion with those we've lost.
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
A blazing talent debuts with the tale of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother, and Puerto Rican roots--all in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico's history, Xochitl Gonzalez's Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream--all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.