The Second Sleep by Robert Harris
A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts–coins, fragments of glass, human bones–which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?
Fairfax becomes determined to discover the truth. Over the course of the next six days, everything he believes–about himself, his faith, and the history of his world–will be tested to destruction.
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Incidental Inventions by Elena Ferrante
“This is my last column, after a year that has scared and inspired me.”
With these words, Elena Ferrante, the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend, bid farewell to her year-long collaboration with the Guardian. For a full year she penned short pieces, the subjects of which were suggested by editors at the Guardian, turning the writing process into a kind of prolonged interlocution; the subjects ranged from first love to climate change, from enmity among women to the adaptation of her novels to film and TV. As she said in her final column: “I have written as an author of novels, taking on matters that are important to me and that — if I have the will and the time — I’d like to develop within real narrative mechanisms.”
Here, then, are the seeds of possible future novels, the ruminations of an internationally beloved author, and the abiding preoccupations of a writer who has been called ‘one of the great novelists of our time
Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises by Jodie Adams Kirshner
Bankruptcy and the austerity it represents have become a common “solution” for struggling American cities. What do the spending cuts and limited resources do to the lives of city residents? In Broke, Jodie Adams Kirshner follows seven Detroiters as they navigate life during and after their city’s bankruptcy. Reggie loses his savings trying to make a habitable home for his family. Cindy fights drug use, prostitution, and dumping on her block. Lola commutes two hours a day to her suburban job. For them, financial issues are mired within the larger ramifications of poor urban policies, restorative negligence on the state and federal level and―even before the decision to declare Detroit bankrupt in 2013―the root causes of a city’s fiscal demise.
Kirshner makes a powerful argument that cities―the economic engine of America―are never quite given the aid that they need by either the state or federal government for their residents to survive, not to mention flourish. Success for all America’s citizens depends on equity of opportunity.
Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks
Daniel Mayrock’s life is at a crossroads. He knows the following to be true: 1. He loves his wife Jill… more than anything. 2. He only regrets quitting his job and opening a bookshop a little (maybe more than a little) 3. Jill is ready to have a baby. 4. The bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent. Dan doesn’t know how to fix it. 5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble. 6. Then Jill gets pregnant.
This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances: 1.Dan wants to do something special. 2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary. 3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure. 4. He doesn’t want to live in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.
Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century by Sarah Abrevaya Stein
For centuries, the bustling port city of Salonica was home to the sprawling Levy family. As leading publishers and editors, they helped chronicle modernity as it was experienced by Sephardic Jews across the Ottoman Empire. The wars of the twentieth century, however, redrew the borders around them, in the process transforming the Levys from Ottomans to Greeks. Family members soon moved across boundaries and hemispheres, stretching the familial diaspora from Greece to Western Europe, Israel, Brazil, and India. In time, the Holocaust nearly eviscerated the clan, eradicating whole branches of the family tree.
In Family Papers, the prizewinning Sephardic historian Sarah Abrevaya Stein uses the family’s correspondence to tell the story of their journey across the arc of a century and the breadth of the globe. They wrote to share grief and to reveal secrets, to propose marriage and to plan for divorce, to maintain connection. They wrote because they were family. And years after they frayed, Stein discovers, what remains solid is the fragile tissue that once held them together: neither blood nor belief, but papers.
Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew
For seven months of the year, the remote island of Lark is fogbound, cut off completely from the mainland. Three strangers arrive before the mists fall: Ben Hailey, a charismatic teacher looking to make his mark, teenager Viola Kendrick, and her mother, both seeking a place to hide from unspeakable tragedy.
As the winter fog sets in, the presence of the newcomers looms large in this tight-knit community. They watch as their women fall under the teacher’s spell. And they watch as their daughters draw the mysterious Viola into their circle. The girls begin to meet furtively at night, dancing further and further away from the religious traditions that have held Lark together for generations.
But when a body is found one morning at the girls’ meeting place, high up among the sacred stones of Lark, faith turns instantly to suspicion and fear. For the island is weighted with its own dark secrets, and now it is time for them to come into the light.
Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung by Nina MacLaughlin
Seductresses and she-monsters, nymphs and demi-goddesses, populate the famous myths of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. But what happens when the story of the chase comes in the voice of the woman fleeing her rape? When the beloved coolly returns the seducer’s gaze? When tales of monstrous transfiguration are sung by those transformed? In voices both mythic and modern, Wake, Siren revisits each account of love, loss, rape, revenge, and change. It lays bare the violence that undergirds and lurks in the heart of Ovid’s narratives, stories that helped build and perpetuate the distorted portrayal of women across centuries of art and literature.
Drawing on the rhythms of epic poetry and alt rock, of everyday speech and folk song, of fireside whisperings and therapy sessions, Nina MacLaughlin, the acclaimed author of Hammer Head, recovers what is lost when the stories of women are told and translated by men. She breathes new life into these fraught and well-loved myths.
Wyoming by JP Gritton
It’s 1988 and Shelley Cooper is in trouble. He’s broke, he’s been fired from his construction job, and his ex-wife has left him for their next door neighbor and a new life in Kansas City. The only opportunity on his horizon is fifty pounds of his brother’s high-grade marijuana, which needs to be driven from Colorado to Houston and exchanged for a lockbox full of cash. The delivery goes off without a hitch, but getting home with the money proves to be a different challenge altogether. Fueled by a grab bag of resentments and self punishment, Shelley becomes a case study in the question of whether it’s possible to live without accepting yourself, and the dope money is the key to a lock he might never find. JP Gritton’s portrait of a hapless aspirant at odds with himself and everyone around him is both tender and ruthless, and Wyoming considers the possibility of redemption in a world that grants forgiveness grudgingly, if at all.