Saturday, March 2, 2013

5 Fiction Titles to Watch for in March

Ready for some more great novels? Here's a few to keep an eye out for this month.

Sunshine When She's Gone (M)
by Thea Goodman (March 5)

It seems only right to start the March edition of this post with a title that offers sunshine in its title, and a little bit of humour for our winter-weary souls. "A fresh, funny, and wisely observed debut novel about marriage—about the love, longing and ambivalence exposed when a husband takes the baby on a highly unusual outing. When Veronica Reed wakes up one frigid January morning, two things are “off”—first of all, she has had a good night’s sleep, which hasn’t happened in months, and second, both her husband and her baby are gone.

Grateful for the much-needed rest, Veronica doesn’t, at first, seriously question her husband’s trip out to breakfast with baby Clara. Little does she know, her spouse has fled lower Manhattan, with Clara, for some R& R in the Caribbean. Told through alternating points of view, The Sunshine When She's Gone explores the life-changing impact of parenthood on a couple as individuals and as partners. Thea Goodman brings us into intimacies made tense by sleep-deprivation and to losses and gains made more real by acknowledging them. Here is the story of a couple pushed to the edge and a desperate father’s attempt give them both space to breathe."

Silence and the Roar (M)
by Nihad Sirees (March 5)

How quickly we turn from light-hearted fun, but when we do it's to a book that offers a profound commentary on censorship in our modern times. "The story follows a day in the life of Fathi Chin, an author banned from publishing because he refuses to write propaganda for the ruling government. On this day, the entire country has mobilized to celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the reigning despot. The heat is oppressive and loudspeakers blare as an endless, unbearably loud parade takes over the streets.

Desperate to get away from the noise and the zombie-like masses, Fathi leaves his house to visit his mother, but en route stops to help a student who is being beaten by the police. Fathi's ID papers are confiscated and he is forced to return home and told to report to the police station before night falls.

When Fathi turns himself in, he is led from one department to another in an ever-widening bureaucratic labyrinth. His only weapon against the irrationality of the government employees is his sense of irony. The Silence and the Roar is a funny, sexy, scathing novel about the struggle of an individual over tyranny." Kirkus reviews called the action of this book "a predicament where Kafka meets Catch-22" and Publisher's weekly said "Sirees has written a 1984 for the 21st century."

The Honey Queen (M)
by Cathy Kelly (March 12)

Readers who like warm tales of friendship and small town life will want to know more about this latest from Irish writer Kelly who has been called the "natural heir to Maeve Binchy" in more than one location. "It’s easy to fall in love with the beautiful town of Redstone – the locals wave and chat to each other, the shops and cafes are full of cheerful hustle and bustle. And amidst all this activity, two women believe they are getting on just fine. Francesca’s boundless energy help her to take everything in her stride, including a husband who has lost his job and the unwelcome arrival of the menopause, which has kicked in – full throttle.

Peggy, on the other hand, has always been a restless spirit. But now, focused and approaching thirty, she has opened her own knitting shop on the town’s high street. It’s a dream come true, but she still feels adrift. When Australian-raised Lillie finally makes it back home to Ireland, she is drawn right into the heart of Redstone’s busy, close-knit community. But what she thought would be an ending is actually just a beginning – all is not quite as it seems in the picturesque town. Soon, Lillie’s hard-earned wisdom will be called into play as she helps new friends navigate unchartered territory… "

Fever (M)
by Mary B. Keane (March 12)

A historical account of the woman known as "Typhoid Mary". "Mary Mallon was a courageous, headstrong Irish immigrant woman who bravely came to America alone, fought hard to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic service ladder, and discovered in herself an uncanny, and coveted, talent for cooking. Working in the kitchens of the upper class, she left a trail of disease in her wake, until one enterprising and ruthless “medical engineer” proposed the inconceivable notion of the “asymptomatic carrier”—and from then on Mary Mallon was a hunted woman."

In 2001, Mary B. Keane was named as "5 under 35" by the National Book Foundation: i.e. recognized as one of 5 great writers under 35 working in America. While you're waiting for her second novel, you might want to investigate her first, The Walking People.

Mount Pleasant (M)
by Don Gillmor (March 26)

Canadian readers know Gillmor's name from a range of sources, an author of nonfiction and frequent contributor to the Canadian press, Gillmor has also penned a children's book and one previous novel (2009's Kanata). In his newest novel, he takes a darkly comic look at money and modern life. Middle aged Harry Salter has gone from a well born privileged youth to a middle aged buried in debt. When his father dies, he expects an inheritance that will turn his life around.

Photo credit: Ryan Szulc
"But when the will is read, all that's left for Harry is $4200. Dale Salter's money is gone. Out of desperation and disbelief, Harry starts to dig into what happened to the money. As he follows a trail strewn with family secrets and unsavory suspicions, he discovers not only that old money has lost its grip and new money taken on an ugly hue, but that his whole existence been cast into shadow by the weight of his expectations." Fellow Canadian author Linden MacIntyre has called this "A wisely, darkly, deeply, hysterically funny novel."

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