Monday, May 1, 2017

New Fiction

Like many of our patrons, I enjoy browsing the New Fiction display on the main floor.  Recently I looked through the display and chose the following as the titles I would most like to read.  Each one appealed to me for a different reason.

Human Acts by Han Kang follows the aftermath of a young boy's shocking death during the 1980 violent Gwangju student uprising in South Korea.   The story is told from the perspectives of the event's victims and their loved ones, and at one point, the story falls into nonfiction as author reveals her own personal connection to the tragedy. Through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope unfolds the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.  Kang won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for her novel The Vegetarian.

Loner by Teddy Wayne
Shy, witty David Federman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to embrace and be welcomed by a new tribe of like-minded peers. But at first, beyond the friendly advances of a plain-looking Sara, his social status seems devastatingly unlikely to change. Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by both her beauty and her brains, David falls feverishly in love and is determined to stop at nothing to win her attention and a coveted invite into her glamorous Upper East Side world. David begins compromising his own moral standards for this one, great chance at happiness. But neither Veronica nor David, it turns out, are exactly as they seem.

The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle by Walt Whitman
Yes, that Walt Whitman.  In 1852, young Walt Whitman--a down-on-his-luck house builder in Brooklyn--was hard at work writing two books. One would become one of the most famous volumes of poetry in American history, Leaves of Grass. The other, a novel, would be published under a pseudonym and serialized in a newspaper. A short, rollicking story of orphanhood, avarice, and adventure in New York City, Life and Adventures of Jack Engle appeared to little fanfare. No one made the connection it until 2016, when literary scholar Zachary Turpin, followed a paper trail deep into the Library of Congress.  Readers will catch glimpses of Whitman’s expansive style and his contemporary, Charles Dickens’s, playful story-telling.

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters presents an interesting twist to the alternative reality concept.  Imagine it is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred. A gifted young Black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He's got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called "the Hard Four." On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor knows that something isn't right-- with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself. Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country's arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost.

The Trees by Ali Shaw
The trees arrive in the night: thundering up through the ground, transforming streets and towns into shadowy forest. Buildings are destroyed. Broken bodies, still wrapped in tattered bed linen, hang among the twitching leaves. Adrien Thomas has never been much of a hero. But when he realizes that no help is coming, he ventures out into this unrecognizable world. Michelle, his wife, is across the sea in Ireland, and he has no way of knowing whether the trees have come for her too. Then he meets green-fingered Hannah and her teenage son Seb. Together, they set out to find Hannah's forester brother, to reunite Adrien with his wife--and to discover just how deep the forest goes. Their journey will take them to a place of terrible beauty and violence, to the dark heart of nature and the darkness inside themselves.

Mercury by Margot Livesey
Donald believes he knows all there is to know about seeing. An optometrist in suburban Boston, he is sure that he and his wife, Viv, who runs the local stables, are both devoted to their two children and to each other. Then Mercury--a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past--arrives at Windy Hill and everything changes.  Donald may have 20/20 vision but he is slow to notice how profoundly Viv has changed and how these changes threaten their quiet, secure world. By the time he does, it is too late to stop the catastrophic collision of Viv's ambitions and his own myopia.

--Ellen Moore, Webmaster

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