13 September 2017

Falling Leaves = Fab Fiction

Some of the best contemporary writers are publishing this fall. Here's the first crop.

Celeste Ng, celebrated for her terrific first novel, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, returns with another insightful story about family relationships and cultural conflicts: LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE. A sensitive work of fiction with Ng's now signature simplicity of language and subtle evocation of emotional turmoil.

Alice McDermott, one of my all-time favorites and a master of nuance, revisits the Irish immigrant experience, in Brooklyn, in THE NINTH HOUR, which stars a young girl destined to become a nun, by obligation rather than intention.

Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Egan publishes her first historical novel, in which a young woman becomes a diver at the Brooklyn shipyards during WWII as she struggles to resolve the mystery of her father's disappearance. Egan is a master of detail, you'll feel like you're right back in that time and place.

The great Claire Messud has penned a lovely coming-of-age fiction entitled BURNING GIRL, which is, frankly, not as profound as her previous works but she is a superlative writer. I highly recommend THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS and THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN first.

After nine years, Salmon Rushdie has published THE GOLDEN HOUSE to mixed reviews. I often find him hard to read, although always a fascination, and this novel is said to be more grounded in realism. However, a major story line has to do with a comic book character who runs for President. What you might call not-so-magical realism. For Rushdie fans, maybe a winner.

Nicole Krauss, the author of the award-winning and remarkable HISTORY OF LOVE, releases FOREST DARK, which is already garnering glowing reviews, including a recommendation by the one and only Philip Roth! The story of the virtual collision between a struggling not-so-young writer and an enigmatic older lawyer takes place in part in the Israeli desert.

Nathan Englender, an especially phenomenal short-story writer, publishes a political thriller that also takes place, largely, in Israel. I've just begun reading and already entranced with the writing. And, despite the subject matter, the novel is splattered with middle Eastern humor as well as typical volatility.

One of my favorites this season is Danzy Senna's new novel, NEW PEOPLE, also with a chuckle inserted between the lines of self-satisfaction characteristic of the new generation of browns, also in Brooklyn, battling a legacy of black and white. Senna, writes mostly about the bi-racial challenge, but this novel takes her writing, and her insights, to new levels.

A few good mysteries to add to your pile. John LeCarre returns after 25 years with LEGACY OF SPIES, a prequel to the beloved George Smiley, hero of the revered TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY collection. He never fails to please.

Former Washington DC policy maker and Laguna Beach Mayor, Paul Freeman, releases STOP, GO, MURDER, the first of a trilogy featuring a laid back, GO-playing detective tracking a maze of suspects from CA to DC to FLA. GO is the world's oldest board game and relies on strategy to surround and conquer an opponent, which is what most of these opportunistic characters have in mind. But who committed murder?

And, Laguna's Kaira Rouda, prolific writer and yes, wife of congressional candidate Harley Rouda, has released her first domestic thriller, BEST DAY EVER, a page-turner that will have you wondering what could possibly come next between this husband and wife.

Kaira Rouda will appear at Laguna Beach Books September 17 and Paul Freeman October 8.