Fiction

For two thousand years book cover

For two thousand years

Mihail Sebastian

FICTION Sebastia Mihail
Fiction

"Mihail Sebastian's 1934 masterpiece, now available in English for the first time, was written as the rise of fascism forced him out of his literary career and turned his friends and colleagues against him. Confronted with the violence of a recurrent anti-Semitism, Sebastian questions its causes in this perceptive testimony, illuminating the ideological debates of the interwar period with wit, simplicity and vivacity"--

Anne M's picture

Also recently published in English, this 1934 Romanian work is fiction mirroring reality as Mihail Sebastian grapples with the rise of antisemitism and fascism in the years leading up to World War II. -Anne M

The silence of the spirits book cover

The silence of the spirits

Wilfried N'Sondé

FICTION Nsonde Wilfried
Fiction

What are the limits of empathy and forgiveness? How can someone with a shameful past find a new path that allows for both healing and reckoning? When Clovis and Christelle find themselves face-to-face on a train heading to the outskirts of Paris, their unexpected encounter propels them on a cathartic journey toward understanding the other, mediated by their respective histories of violence. Clovis, a young undocumented African, struggles with the pain and shame of his brutal childhood, abusive exploits as a child soldier, and road to exile. Christelle, a young French nurse, has her own dark experiences but translates her suffering into an unusual capacity for empathy, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Anne M's picture

Do you prefer more realism? In Wilfried N’Sondé’s “The Silence of the Spirits,” Clovis Nzila, an African migrant, and Christelle, a French nurse, sit next to each other on a suburban Paris train. On the surface, they may seem worlds apart, but after starting a conversation, they learn through telling their stories that there is more that unites them than divides them. -Anne M

The world goes on book cover

The world goes on

László Krasznahorkai

FICTION Krasznah Laszlo
Fiction

In The World Goes On, a narrator first speaks directly, then tells eleven unforgettable stories, and then bids farewell (“for here I would leave this earth and these stars, because I would take nothing with me”). As László Krasznahoraki himself explains: “Each text is about drawing our attention away from this world, speeding our body toward annihilation, and immersing ourselves in a current of thought or a narrative…” A Hungarian interpreter obsessed with waterfalls, at the edge of the abyss in his own mind, wanders the chaotic streets of Shanghai. A traveler, reeling from the sights and sounds of Varanasi, encounters a giant of a man on the banks of the Ganges ranting on the nature of a single drop of water. A child laborer in a Portuguese marble quarry wanders off from work one day into a surreal realm utterly alien from his daily toils. The World Goes On is another amazing masterpiece by the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. “The excitement of his writing,” Adam Thirwell proclaimed in the New York Review of Books, “is that he has come up with this own original forms―there is nothing else like it in contemporary literature.”

Anne M's picture

Another great example of surrealist fiction. -Anne M

The years, months, days : two novellas book cover

The years, months, days : two novellas

Lianke Yan

FICTION Yan Lianke
Fiction

Yan LiankezChinas most feted and most banned authory (Financial Times)is a master of imaginative satire, and his prize-winning works have been published around the world to the highest honors. Now, his two most acclaimed novellas are collected here in a single volumemasterfully crafted stories that explore the sacrifices made for family, the driving will to survive, and the longing to leave behind a personal legacy.

Anne M's picture

For more short fiction that challenges subject and form, check out Yan Lianke's “The Years, Months, Days." -Anne M

Fever dream : a novel book cover

Fever dream : a novel

Samanta Schweblin

FICTION Schwebli Samanta
Fiction, Thriller

"A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She's not his mother. He's not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family. Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel"--

Anne M's picture

If you enjoy surrealist fiction, you may like Samantha Schweblin’s “Fever Dream,” which is best described as a ghost story, but that label still doesn’t feel quite right. The narration follows a conversation between a hospital-bound woman and a neighbor’s son. However, it is unclear if either are still of this world. This book is a puzzle in both subject and form. -Anne M

Me book cover

Me

Tomoyuki Hoshino

FICTION Hoshino Tomoyuki
Fiction, Suspense

A young Tokyoite named Hitoshi Nagano who, on a whim, takes home a cell phone belonging to Daiki Hiyama who accidentally put it on Hitoshi's tray at McDonald's. Hitoshi uses the phone to call Daiki's mother, pretending he is Daiki, and convinces her to wire him 900,000 yen. Three days later, Hitoshi returns home from work to discover Daiki's mother in his apartment, and she seems to truly believe Hitoshi is her son. Even more bizarre, Hitoshi discovers his own parents now treat him as a stranger; they, too, have a "me" living with them as Hitoshi. At a loss for what else to do, Hitoshi begins living as Daiki, and no one seems to bat an eye.

Anne M's picture

For a more recent mystery of technological social psychosis, check out Tomoyuki Hoshino’s “Me.” -Anne M

The ninety-ninth floor book cover

The ninety-ninth floor

Janá Fawwāz Ḥasan

FICTION Hasan, Jana Fawwaz
Fiction

"Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2015. At times as cold and hard-edged as the skyscrapers in its backdrop, The Ninety-Ninth Floor follows the struggles and triumphs of Majed as he makes it in Manhattan at the turn of the century, after surviving the devastating 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp. A Palestinian born and raised in Lebanon, Majed creates a new life for himself in the glittery world of New York City's computer games industry. But with all his success, Majed's past continues to haunt him. His relationship with Hilda, a Lebanese woman from a right-wing Christian family, exposes his innermost fears, worries, and dark secrets. A multi-voiced narration, The Ninety-Ninth Floor conveys the brutality that war leaves on the people who experience it. It is also a love story that asks questions about the ability of passion to overcome hatred and difference."--Amazon.com

Anne M's picture

Jana Fawaz Elhassan’s “The Ninety-Ninth Floor” is fantastic read about a young man navigating a new place and a new love. -Anne M

Daredevils book cover

Daredevils

Shawn Vestal

FICTION Vestal Shawn
Fiction

From the winner of 2014’s PEN Robert W. Bingham Prize, an unforgettable debut novel about Loretta, a teenager married off as a “sister wife,” who makes a break for freedom At the heart of this exciting debut novel, set in Arizona and Idaho in the mid-1970s, is fifteen-year-old Loretta, who slips out of her bedroom every evening to meet her so-called gentile boyfriend. Her strict Mormon parents catch her returning one night, and promptly marry her off to Dean Harder, a devout yet materialistic fundamentalist who already has a wife and a brood of kids. The Harders relocate to his native Idaho, where Dean’s teenage nephew Jason falls hard for Loretta. A Zeppelin and Tolkien fan, Jason worships Evel Knievel and longs to leave his close-minded community. He and Loretta make a break for it. They drive all night, stay in hotels, and relish their dizzying burst of teenage freedom as they seek to recover Dean’s cache of “Mormon gold.” But someone Loretta left behind is on their trail... A riveting story of desire and escape, Daredevils boasts memorable set pieces and a rich cast of secondary characters. There’s Dean’s other wife, Ruth, who as a child in the 1950s was separated from her parents during the notorious Short Creek raid, when federal agents descended on a Mormon fundamentalist community. There’s Jason’s best friend, Boyd, part Native American and caught up in the activist spirit of the time, who comes along for the ride, with disastrous results. And Vestal’s ultimate creation is a superbly sleazy chatterbox—a man who might or might not be Evel Knievel himself—who works his charms on Loretta at a casino in Elko, Nevada. A lifelong journalist whose Spokesman column is a fixture in Spokane, WA, Shawn has honed his fiction over many years, publishing in journals like McSweeney's and Tin House. His stunning first collection, Godforsaken Idaho, burrowed into history as it engaged with masculinity and crime, faith and apostasy, and the West that he knows so well. Daredevils shows what he can do on a broader canvas--a fascinating, wide-angle portrait of a time and place that's both a classic coming of age tale and a plunge into the myths of America, sacred and profane.

Heidi K's picture

This is an interesting book featuring a fundamentalist Mormon female protagonist in the 1970s. The plot and voice are quite unique, and I finished this one quickly. -Heidi K

Sula book cover

Sula

Toni Morrison

FICTION Morrison, Toni
Fiction

Heidi K's picture

Probably my favorite book ever. -Heidi K

A discovery of witches book cover

A discovery of witches

Deborah E. Harkness

SCIENCE FICTION Harkness, Deborah E.
Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

Witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her.

Amanda's picture

This book is delightful! It starts a bit slow, but it's so worth sticking with it. It's part coming-of-age, part romance, part fantasy--and it's a series, so if you like it, there are more books! -Amanda