Friday, August 3, 2012

6 novels to watch for in August

August is upon us: time for a new book! Here are six great looking ones that are being released this month.

by Maria Semple (August 14)

*Starred Review* Bernadette Fox, practically a shut-in, who's hired a virtual assistant in India to remotely arrange every task, from hiring a gardener to planning the trip to Antarctica she's promised her star-student daughter, Bee seems pretty crazy. But don't be fooled. Suspicions that madcap Bernadette is as clever as her last name implies will be confirmed heartily. When she's party to some unfortunate events, her erratic behavior leads her husband, Microsoft guru Elgin Branch, to commit her to a local mental-health facility. But Bernadette intercepts his plan at the pass, escapes the staged intervention, and disappears without a trace. Though much of the story is told through documents e-mails, letters, magazine articles precocious young teen Bee as narrator is great company, entertaining and convincing in her comportment.

TV writer Semple (Arrested Development) pokes fun at the Pacific Northwest as only a Seattlelite can and concocts a caper that, if seen from outer space, might be a mess but in the minutiae of its tangles is clear and rewarding. Under the guise of a hilarious romp, Semple explores the universal questions of why we do what we do and love what we love to some sweet and unexpected ends..” Booklist

Baggage (M)
by Jill Sooley (August 15)

"Acclaimed Newfoundland author Jill Sooley’s second novel, Baggage, examines the step family. Drawing on humour and heartbreak, as she did in Widows of Paradise Bay (M), this story unfolds from the perspectives of three women – Marie, mother and stepmother; Floss, Marie’s daughter who grew up in a broken home and must deal with her mother’s second marriage; and Lolly, the rebellious stepdaughter and young single mother who has never felt comfortable in her place within the stepfamily. Baggage highlights the ties that bind the stepfamily in all its awkward, complex, and optimistic tension." - Publisher

by Jay Caspian Kang (August 7)

Twentysomething Korean American Philip Kim is bright, well-educated, and very hip. He's also angry, prone to self-loathing, resentful of his otherness (even in diverse San Francisco), and lonely. Soon after his elderly next door neighbor is murdered, Kim is tasered in the street by two masked men who issue a weird threat. The attack puts him in contact with two homicide detectives assigned to his neighbor's case. He finds himself the object of an elaborately mystifying and violent conspiracy, but he also finds love and a salve for his anger.

Kim's backstory is also Kang's, and the anger is so sharply conveyed that Kang seems to be channeling his own feelings and memories. The portrait of a city and its denizens so otherworldly strange is vivid, searing, and sometimes hilarious. Kim's murdered neighbor, for example, had a very long career as a porn performer who was ultimately known as Grey Beaver. The conspiracy is nearly unintelligible, but memorably quirky characters and some starkly perceptive writing make this a fine choice for adventurous crime devotees.” -Booklist

by Andrea Thalasinos (August 21)

This debut novel begins with Tariem, a native Siberian, fleeing with his sled dogs from soldiers. In 1929, Stalin has begun a program of forced assimilation of the Chukchi people; reindeer herds and dog sled teams are slaughtered, and adults are sent to factory jobs and their children taken to state schools. The story then shifts to Wisconsin 63 years later. Rosalie McKenzie's life is going nowhere: dead-end jobs and a loveless marriage. One night coming home from losing her latest employment, she takes a chance and rescues a maltreated husky that she names Smokey. With Smokey at her side, Rosalie is able to leave her abusive husband and find her vocation, working with sled dogs.

Alternating between the past and the present, Thalasinos's work informs the reader on the techniques of dogsled racing and the ways of Siberian natives, but it is the human elements that drive her story. In addition to dog lovers, this book should appeal to readers who are interested in history's darker corners and in tales of the human spirit dealing with love and loss.” Publisher's Weekly
by Marie NDiaye (August 7)

- Winner of the Prix Goncourt (the first black woman to win the award)
Original French available as Trois Femmes Puissantes (M)

"Norah, a French-born lawyer, returns to Senegal on the orders of her estranged father. She sees firsthand the wreckage the tyrannical parent has rendered on the son he cherished enough to keep with him while releasing his daughters to the impoverished care of their mothers. Fanta left her life as a teacher in Dakar to follow her blond French boyfriend, Rudy, back to France, where, despite his promises, she found few professional prospects. Khady is so fixated on having a child that she neglected to appreciate her kindly husband until he died, leaving her to live with unloving in-laws until they tire of her and send her to live with a distant relative and make a new life for herself.

In these three intertwining stories, NDiaye, a distinguished French author of West African heritage, offers strong character portraits, deliciously detailed with complex emotions. Fantastical elements add to the charm and appeal of these stories of immigrant women struggling to develop clear identities while subjected to the various tyrannies of relationships, culture, obligations, and expectations.” - Booklist

by Barry Fantoni (August 15)

Meet Harry Lipkin, P.I. the world's oldest detective. Harry Lipkin's specialty is taking on the cases the police just aren’t interested in – and his latest case is a doozy. Someone on the staff of wealthy widow Norma Weinberger is stealing from her. Nothing fancy, no diamond-encrusted teapots or anything, but enough to rattle her. Harry takes on the case, navigating his way – gingerly – through a twilight world of boxing, gambling and gangs to find the truth. Elegantly written and illustrated throughout by the author, Harry Lipkin, P.I. is a life-affirming tale of ageing and mortality as well as a laugh-out-loud whodunit. The fact that the guy keeps his gun next to his false teeth should tell you a lot.” - Publisher

1 comment:

  1. I really want to check out that Kang novel. I have it pre-ordered, I'll def check back after I read and let you know how it was.