Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Social Workers in Fiction

Michael Ungar, a local professor and non-fiction author, will be reading from his debut novel The Social Worker tonight at the Keshen Goodman Library (Wed Sept 14th 7:00pm).

The book is quite popular (the first print run is sold out!) and is generating lots of discussion. This got me thinking about what other novels we may have in the collection that might appeal to these same readers.

Listed below are several recently published related fiction titles, i.e novels with a key character who is a social worker.

Witness the Night
by Kishwar Desai

A winner of the 2010 COSTA First Novel Award.

"In a small town in the heart of India, a young girl is found tied to a bed inside a townhouse where thirteen people lie dead. The girl is alive, but she has been beaten and abused. She is held in the local prison, awaiting interrogation for the murders she is believed by the local people to have committed. Visiting social worker Simran attempts to break through the girl's mute trance to find out what happened that terrible night. As she uncovers more and more, Simran realises that she is caught in the middle of a terrifying reality, where the unwanted female offspring of families are routinely disposed of. Brilliantly atmospheric, hauntingly real, this is a major debut from an exciting new author. " Publisher

Drive-by Saviours
by Chris Benjamin

"Demoralized by his job and dissatisfied with his life, Mark punches the clock with increasing indifference. He wanted to help people; he’d always believed that as social worker he would be able to make a difference in people’s lives. But after six years of bureaucracy and pushing paper Mark has lost hope. All that changes when he meets Bumi, an Indonesian restaurant worker....
Moving gracefully between Canada and Indonesia and through the two men’s histories, Drive-by Saviours is the story of desire and connection among lonely people adrift in a crowded world." - Publisher

"Chris Benjamin masterfully, magically weaves together the seemingly disconnected worlds of Mark, a failed social-worker-turned-unhappy-grant-writer coming to the end of an even unhappier relationship, and Bumi, an Indonesian illegal immigrant on the run from his past and the ocd that dogs his present. Their chance encounter on a Toronto subway launches them on a complicated friendship that allows both men to finally confront the demons in their pasts and to find the hope in their futures."
— Stephen Kimber, author of Reparations

Chosen: a novel
by Chandra Hoffman

"Chloe Pinter is in charge of domestic adoptions at Portland's Chosen Child adoption agency. She advertises on adoption Web sites; interviews prospective birth mothers; arranges for their rent, food, and clothing for the last three months of their pregnancies; keeps files on all potential adoptive families; attends the births; and basically is on call 24 hours a day. She feels she is making a positive difference in the lives she touches, which makes up for her low salary. But suddenly things begin to disintegrate.

One set of birth parents, Penny and Jason, try to extort adoptive parents John and Francie for more money, and demand that Chloe find Jason a job. Then John runs off with a 19-year-old whore in Singapore, and Francie starts divorce proceedings. Chloe begins to think that following her undependable but loyal surfer boyfriend to Hawaii may not be such a bad idea. Hoffman herself has worked in an orphanage and run an adoption program, and her sparkling debut fully engages the reader with Chloe's altruistic dreams and the predicament in which she unexpectedly finds herself." - Booklist

Minding Frankie
by Maeve Binchy

"Bestseller Binchy is a national treasure in her homeland of Ireland, and her latest novel is a perfect illustration of why. Old-fashioned and newfangled are totally compatible in contemporary Dublin, where lonely, hard-drinking slacker Noel Lynch discovers he's about to be a single dad now that the one-night-stand/mother of his child, Stella, is dying. Suddenly, the salt-of-the-earth residents of St. Jarlath's Crescent and Noel's resourceful American cousin, Emily, spring into action to keep Noel sober, fire up his ambitions, appease militant social worker Moira, and help raise baby Frankie. It's a hair-raising, heartwarming juggling act for Noel, his quirky roommate Lisa, do-gooder Emily, and a neighborhood crowded with eccentric characters and adorable pooches-including one with a handsome inheritance.

Binchy (Heart and Soul) straddles improbable and possible in her touching saga, and if your mind can't quite wrap itself around St. Jarlath's Crescent, your heart will have no trouble recognizing the landscape." - Booklist

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