Adult Book News
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills his mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to the picture, the one thing that reminds him of her. A coming-of-age tale, an examination of loss and friendship, and a mystery about a missing painting, the novel follows Theo on his journey to adulthood with unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense.
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Violet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of Shanghai's most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West--until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion. Spanning more than forty years and two continents, the novel transports readers from the collapse of China's last imperial dynasty to the beginning of the Republic and recaptures the lost world of old Shanghai through the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreigners living in the International Settlement, both erased by World War II. An evocative narrative of the profound connections between mothers and daughters, filled with insight and humor.
Brown Dog by Jim Harrison
This collection of Harrison's previously published novellas featuring "one of literature's great characters," Brown Dog, a bawdy, reckless, down-on-his-luck Michigan Indian who roams the Upper Peninsula avoiding hard work while looking for love, beer, and good fishing, also includes a new story. Brown Dog, or B.D. as he is known, becomes a husband at the age of 50, although in a way that only B.D. could, by marrying his lesbian best friend, Gretchen,
who is interested in becoming a parent. Can the raffish, comically honest, and totally un-materialistic Brown Dog really end up domesticated in a cabin in the woods? Probably not, says Harrison, "It might interrupt his fishing."
The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani
For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past, and a secret. But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the hard reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, this is a sumptuous feast of delights: an unforgettable narrative about family, work, romance, and the unexpected turns of life and fate.
Simply the Best
Tis the season for every newspaper, media outlet, blogger, and pundit to print, publish or post a"Best Books of 2013" list. There's the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2013, Amazon Editors Top 100, Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction, Library Journal's Top Ten, O Magazine's Best Books of 2013, Publishers Weekly Best of 2013 ,and the Washington Post's Top Ten - to name a few! As one would expect with such subjective judgments, there is little consensus on which books make the grade. Several well-regarded books show up on many lists, but not always, which is why its so fun to make and compare lists. As librarians always say: To every reader, his or her book.
Selected by Librarians
The top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love.
This monthly list is created by librarians and library staff to help connect readers to new books and authors. An online community of librarians vote each month on their favorite new books and the results are tallied. "The list is a straightforward calculation: whichever
ten books get the most nominations go onto the monthly list. The book with the most nominations becomes the #1 Pick. It’s as simple as that." The list is not meant to be a
"best" list - just a list of collective favorites -books librarians loved and want to share.
#1 for December: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
He is the Killer Duke, accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for twelve years, wealthy and powerful, but beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara resurfaces, offering the one thing he’s dreamed of . . . absolution. Mara planned never to return to the world from which she’d run, but when her brother falls deep into debt at Temple’s exclusive casino, she has no choice but to offer Temple a trade that ends in her returning to society and proving to the world what only she knows...that he is no killer. It’s a fine trade, until Temple realizes that the lady—and her past—are more than they seem.
2013 National Book Awards
Fiction Winner: The Good Lord Bird
On Wednesday, the National Book Foundation revealed the winners of this country's major literary awards for this year. Writer James McBride won the fiction prize for his third novel, The Good Lord Bird, about a young slave called Little Onion who joins the abolitionist John Brown in his anti-slavery mission. McBride was considered a long shot for the prize since several well-known and well-regarded authors were also nominated. McBride was clearly surprised when his name was announced at the gala dinner, saying that he had not prepared an acceptance speech. While McBride may not be as well known as Jhumpa Lahiri or Thomas Pynchon, he has had literary success with his 1996 book, The Color of Water, and The Good Lord Bird is currently listed on Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2013.
Doris Lessing (1919-2013)
Nobel Prize Winner
Doris Lessing, the feisty, unconventional writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007, passed away last Sunday, November 17. She was 94. She was an outspoken, often
contrary, woman determined to live and write on her own terms. Although she wrote numerous novels, essays, short stories and poems, she is best known for her breakthrough novel, The Golden Notebook, a loosely autobiographical story of women's inner lives that was considered blunt and daring when published in 1962. The book was embraced by the feminist movement and made Lessing a feminist icon, which she considered "stupid." Always the iconoclast, she had little interest in the regard of others as she sought to live a free life, unencumbered by her marriages (two), children (three), or lovers (many). When informed that she had won the Nobel Prize her response was a characteristic, "I couldn't care less."
According to a recent New York Times article, long novels are having a rebirth. Several lengthy novels have been released to favorable reviews over the past few weeks and more are in the publishing pipeline. Donna Tartt’s novel The Goldfinch has 771 pages. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize, has 834 pages. A manuscript, City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, which was the subject of a publisher bidding war, checks in at 900 pages. Knopf purchased the rights to publish the debut novel for $2 million dollars (let's see, that's about $2000 per page) and its release date has not yet been set. Film rights have already been sold. "Sonny Mehta, the chairman and editor in chief of Knopf, said on Sunday, “It’s a large, spacious and extremely ambitious novel. It has a richness to it..." Guess so.
The new novel from best-selling author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom will be released on Tuesday. The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that comes to the world's attention when its residents start receiving phone calls from deceased loved ones. Calls from the afterlife - miracle or hoax? The inevitable media firestorm ensues and one resident, coping with his own issues of guilt and remorse, vows to find out. "Albom’s latest modern-day fable is less philosophical but more emotionally charged than The Time Keeper. Wrapping this treatise on communication, human relationships, and the nature of heaven inside a nifty mystery, he once again manages to convert his musings on morality and spirituality into a populist page-turner." (Booklist)
2013 World Fantasy Award Winner
The 2013 World Fantasy Convention was held in Brighton, England last weekend where the World Fantasy Awards were announced. G. Willow Wilson's book, Alif the Unseen won in the fantasy novel category for her "fiction debut blending political intrigue, cyberfantasy, and The Arabian Nights." (Library Journal)
Alif, a young Arab-Indian computer hacker living in an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, shields dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups from government surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. Inevitably he runs afoul of the state security
chief and must flee to the desert while protecting the the fabled Alf Yeom, the book that compiles the entire knowledge of the jinn (genies to us) and may be the key to remaking the world. "As timely and thoughtful as it is edgy and exciting, this dervish of a novel wraps modern tendrils around ancient roots, spanning the gulf between ones and zeros, haves and have-nots, and seen and unseen worlds." (Booklist)
New Authors for Familiar Characters
When a popular author passes away, fans mourn the loss - especially when the author has written a series of books devoted to one or two beloved characters and the potential for more stories has ended. All may not be lost, however. More and more living authors are continuing popular franchises, usually with the blessing of the original author's estate. New books about James Bond continue to appear despite the death of Ian Fleming in 1964. The newest offering, Solo by William Boyd, is the 35th Bond novel not written by Fleming.
Other characters carrying on:
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks (channeling P.G. Wodehouse)
Silent Night: a Spenser Holiday Novel by Robert B Parker (with Helen Brann)
Robert B. Parker's Ironhorse by Robert Knott (Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch)
Robert B. Parker's Damned If You Do: A Jesse Stone Novel by Michael Brandman
Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Retribution by Eric Van Lustbader
And, of course, Jane Austen -
The Bad Miss Bennet: a Pride and Prejudice Novel by Jean Burnett
November is Native American Heritage Month
Native American Authors
Since 1990, November has been designated as the month to honor "the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S." Contemporary Native American writers continue to enrich our national culture by sharing their traditions and beliefs through diverse novels that explore the modern Native American experience. Louise Erdrich's novel, The Round House, won the National Book Award last year for her powerful potrayal of a young boy's life on a North Dakota reservation.
Other Native American authors to consider: