PositiveBookPage\"The Flight Portfolio mixes historical fact with imaginative fiction. Though Skiff is an invention, Fry’s bisexuality is well documented, and Orringer makes use of the relationship to explore Fry’s sense of growing empathy and to highlight the moral issues inherent in deciding who is and who is not worth saving. Orringer is a meticulous researcher, and the novel’s cloak-and-dagger thrills keep the pace lively in this lengthy but intriguing tale of resilience and resistance.\
PositiveBookPage\"Though the story explores the ways adolescent experience reverberates through adulthood, it also brilliantly topples all expectations of narrative fiction ... It is not until the final pages of the novel’s short coda that another layer of events is uncovered and the complete picture falls into place. Or does it? Trust Exercise questions the very nature of fiction, and in a novel that depicts the fluctuating power dynamics between parents and students, students and teachers, and men and women, it suggests that the one who has the most power is the one who remains to tell the final version of the story. We trust novels to tell us a story exactly the way it happened, but fiction, Choi suggests, has its own rules.\
PositiveBookPageA timely and riveting family drama set in a desolate area of Queensland that will keep you guessing until the final pages ... With thoughtful regard for the impact of domestic violence, Harper keeps a sharp focus on a handful of characters that populate these enormous tracts of land where neighbors live up to three and four hours apart. As in her previous novels, the harsh environment plays a pivotal role, as significant as any of her characters. An unforgiving wasteland, the ranch is a place where isolation takes a long-simmering psychological toll, and everyone knows being out in the sun for too long could kill you.
RaveBookPage\"... Peter Heller has struck gold again with The River ... Masterfully paced and artfully told, The River is a page turner that demands the reader slow down and relish the sheer poetry of the language ... Though stories of man versus nature date back to the Odyssey, The River thrills as Heller invites his characters to confront their own mortality without losing sight of the deep connections between humans and their environment.\
RaveBookPage\"This well-drawn and absorbing character study bears all the hallmarks of Hadley’s best work: It’s perceptive, intelligent and written with astonishing emotional depth ... A master of interpersonal dynamics, Hadley captures the complexity of loss, grief and friendship with a clarity of vision that brings the natural and material worlds into sharp focus.\
PositiveBookPageCarefully paced ... filled with the rich details of rural medieval life, but the unique structure of the story gives the novel a fresh and modern sensibility. In addition, Oakham’s remoteness and parochial village church is contrasted with the spiritual changes coming to both England and the rest of Europe, bringing to mind contemporary issues such as Brexit and the refugee crisis ... Harvey, whose previous novels have been nominated for a range of prizes including the Man Booker, has written a densely packed historical novel that never seems dusty or precious, relishing in the psychological intricacies of power and faith but still crackling with suspense and intrigue.
PositiveBookPage...a lyric debut by a rising literary star ... The novel itself is written as a passionate letter to Laith from the imprisoned Jonathan, and is peppered with lyrics and phrases from notable Palestinian poets ... Informed by author Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s background in Arabic literature and social activism, both of which add passion and integrity to the story, Sadness Is a White Bird is part coming-of-age tale and part unblinking observation of a political situation that continues to defy solutions, treaties or agreements.
PositiveBookPageIn The Silence of the Girls, Briseis is the master of the narrative, telling her story in counterpoint to Achilles, becoming her own subject rather than his object. Her voice is wryly observant and wholly cognizant ... Barker’s retelling of some of the most famous events of the Iliad feels strangely relevant to today.
PositiveBookPage\"Transcription has its share of intrigues and secrets, but it also has a level of wit and poignancy that many espionage novels lack ... Based in part on archival records and period memoirs, Transcription is a rich, sometimes comic, always insightful peek at a unique aspect of British history. Learning about women who participated in the British Secret Service and the BBC is just icing on the cake.\
PositiveBookPageIt is a lyrical coming-of-age story that speaks to timely issues of police brutality and prejudice ... Despite its brevity, Brother delivers an epic impact. The novel is poetic without being sentimental and heartbreaking without being manipulative ... Chariandy has something vital to share about what occurs when young lives are cut down. As readers, it is our duty to listen.
RaveBookPageKate Christensen’s novels hit that sweet spot between beach read and literary fiction. With unsparing wit and an eye for sensuous detail ... The Last Cruise can be read as an analogy to our complex political present—the haves and have-nots divided on a floating world with a selfish wealthy owner that flies off as soon as disaster strikes. But it can also be enjoyed as a darkly humorous comedy of manners, with a diverse cast of characters and enough details about sex, food and drink to satisfy any reader.
Gaël Faye, Trans. by Sarah Ardizzone
RaveBookpageThe mass killings that took place in Rwanda in the spring of 1994 form the core of Gaël Faye’s Small Country, a miraculous story of before and after, of innocence shattered and of surviving the transformation of paradise into hell ... The end of childhood, the demands of family and the coming of war, all seen through the eyes of a young person, are told simply and soulfully in under 200 pages.
PositiveBookPageRebecca Makkai is a skilled and versatile writer whose work often contains a quietly comic edge. Her ambitious new novel, The Great Believers, is a change of pace, exploring the effects of the AIDS epidemic on the gay community in Chicago ... The Great Believers reminds us of the powerful connection between fiction and empathic imagination.
RaveBookPage...a cleverly constructed novel about love, obsession and revenge ... the novel pays homage to the great writer in Celt’s use of an unreliable narrator and a title that’s echoes one of Nabokov’s earlier novels. But the cunning plot and Celt’s singular, sparkling prose are very much her own.
Olga Tokarczuk, Trans. by Jennifer Croft
PositiveBookPage\"Tokarczuk’s world, travel should always return you a little different from how you set out. Though the connections between sections can sometimes feel choppy, Tokarczuk’s voice comes through as both confident and confiding, often knowing and surprisingly witty, in Croft’s elegant translation. Though the novel might not be for everyone, Flights is a fine introduction to a major European author, especially for those interested in contemporary or experimental fiction.\
PositiveBookPageThe warmth that suffuses Sarah Winman’s new novel is pervasive ... Although sometimes lacking in characterization...Winman’s compassionate look at the fluidity of sexual identity, youthful passion and middle-aged regret is rich in emotion and proves that great things do come in small packages.
RaveBookPageMore than a coming-out novel (though it’s that, too), this debut is an insightful and entertaining love letter to the LGBTQ community in Portland, Oregon ... Though the story dips into the grim reality of homophobic hate crimes (Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard were both murdered in the ’90s), Stray City never loses its quirky point of view or Andy’s fresh perspective.
PositiveBookPage\"Happiness is a different kind of book [to The Devil That Danced on Water]—less dramatic, but with the delicacy and strength of a spider’s web. An understated but piercing narrative of great compassion, Happiness trades action for a thoughtful study of adaptability and the empathic bonds shared between humans and animals.\
RaveBookPageA deeply moving story about the complexity and pain of survival, it confirms Thien’s place as one of the most gifted novelists writing today … Thien explores the complexities of her characters and the intensity of their pain in prose that is both poetic and succinct. Janie and Hiroji are marvelous creations, and their friendship, which transcends their suffering, is movingly portrayed. This is a novel that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.
RaveBookPage...people are not so easily summed up in Joanna Cannon’s debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, a gentle story about the damage done by the secrets we keep and the judgments we make ...opens in the mid-1970s in a suburban British housing estate called the Avenue, on a blisteringly hot summer day. The disappearance of a local woman, Mrs. Creasy, has residents on high alert, and the rumors are flying. Grace, a precocious 10-year-old, and her best friend, Tilly, decide to investigate ...told from the points of view of the innocent but perceptive Grace and six of her neighbors... The Avenue, with its flawed but sympathetic characters living chockablock on the suburban street, is Cannon’s most successful creation, and one in which her insight into the problems of ordinary people is most persuasive. Part mystery, part coming-of-age novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep presents our complicated world with compassion and humor, seen through a child’s eyes.
PositiveBookPageTeju Cole’s Open City follows the peripatetic ramblings of its narrator through the streets of New York City ... Julius is good company: erudite, clever, with a wide-reaching interest in almost everyone and everything. He seeks out new experiences and finds much to remark on ... As Open City continues, an air of sadness settles over the story ... Julius, who is hypersensitive to the traces time leaves behind in an urban landscape, is less attuned to the traces time leaves behind on people, who also bear marks left by prior experiences ...provides a mirror image of this earlier plot, as Julius looks for familiarity in cities not his own. Though more overtly fictional, it also expands upon Cole’s idea that the past is always with us.
RaveBookPageIf the best speculative fiction offers up new ways to see our culture, then Naomi Alderman’s The Power is destined to be a classic ... Speculative fiction has long been a genre where gender roles can be explored—think of The Handmaid’s Tale or even back to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland. But Alderman goes beyond her predecessors with a narrative that wonders how long before absolute power corrupts absolutely. Alderman is both a novelist and a co-creator of a smartphone audio adventure app called Zombies, Run!, and it may be this expertise in the world of gaming that brings such a fearlessly creative approach to her storytelling. Both a page-turning thriller and timely exploration of gender roles, censorship and repressive political regimes, The Power is a must-read for today’s times.
Jenny Erpenbeck, Trans. by Susan Bernofsky
RaveBookPageGo, Went, Gone (the title comes from verb conjugations written on a classroom wall) is about being woke — a contemporary idiom referring to how individuals become aware of what is happening in their community and, once cognizant, cannot lose that awareness ... There is something both stately and dramatic about the pace of this novel, which never loses sight of either the big issues or the smaller details. Ably translated by Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone addresses this yet-unresolved crisis with both elegance and urgency.
RaveBookPageDrabble’s characters have continued to age along with her, and she brings her attention (and her wit) to the quality of aging as experienced by a group of friends approaching their 80s in her latest novel (her 19th!), The Dark Flood Rises ...[a] mordant and thought-provoking work ... There is not much plot in The Dark Flood Rises. Friends meet, have drinks, exchange gossip ... Behind this web of aging and personal relationships, looming environmental and political disasters threaten to transform the only England she has ever known ... Though one might think resolution and clarity best reflect the aged creative mind, an equal argument can be made for tenacity, intractability and a certain comfort with contradiction, all of which are found in this novel. More witty than morbid, The Dark Flood Rises may not be for everyone, but this wise assessment of aging by one of England’s most respected writers deserves our readerly attention.