5 New Literary Fictions

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Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta (12 Jan 2017)
Meadow Mori and Carrie Wexler grew up together in Los Angeles, and both became film-makers.

Meadow makes challenging documentaries; Carrie makes successful feature films with a feminist slant. The two friends have everything in common – except their views on sex, power, movie-making and morality. And yet their loyalty trumps their different approaches to film and to life.

Until, one day, a mysterious woman with a unique ability to cold-call and seduce powerful men over the phone – not through sex, but through listening – becomes the subject of one of Meadow’s documentaries. Her downfall, and what makes her so extraordinarily moving, is that she pretends to be someone she is not.

Heart-breaking and insightful, Innocents and Others is an astonishing novel about friendship, identity, loneliness and art.

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Transit by Rachel Cusk (17 Jan 2017)
In the wake of her family s collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of this upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions personal, moral, artistic, and practical as she endeavors to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city, she is made to confront aspects of living that she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life.

Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed novel Outline and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility, and the mystery of change.

In this second book of a precise, short, yet epic cycle, Cusk describes the most elemental experiences, the liminal qualities of life. She captures with unsettling restraint and honesty the longing to both inhabit and flee one s life, and the wrenching ambivalence animating our desire to feel real.

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The Blot by Jonathan Lethem (2 Feb 2017)
Alexander Bruno is a man with expensive problems.

Sporting a tuxedo and trotting the globe, he has spent his adult life as a professional gambler. His particular line of work: backgammon, at which he extracts large sums of money from men who think they can challenge his peerless acumen. In Singapore, his luck turned.

Maybe it had something to do with the Blot – a black spot which has emerged to distort Bruno’s vision. It’s not showing any signs of going away. In fact, it’s spreading, and as Bruno extends his losing streak in Berlin, it becomes clinically clear that the Blot is the symptom of something terrible. There’s a surgeon who can help, an elite specialist, the only one in the world. But surgery is going to involve a lot of money, and worse: returning home. To the land of ‘bullying, psychosis and bad taste’ otherwise known as contemporary America.

Specifically: the garish, hash-smoke streets of Berkeley, California. Here, the unseemly Keith Stolarsky – a childhood friend in possession of an empire of themed burger bars and thrift stores – is king. And he’s willing to help Bruno out. But there was always going to be a price.

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Autumn by Ali Smith (7 Feb 2017)

From the Man Booker shortlisted and Baileys Prize winning author of How to be both: a breathtakingly inventive new novel about aging, time, love, and stories themselves that launches an extraordinary quartet of books called Seasonal.
Readers love Ali Smith s novels for their peerless innovation and their joyful celebration of language and life. Her newest, Autumn, has all of these qualities in spades, and good news for fans! is the first installment in a quartet. Seasonal, comprised of four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as are the seasons), explores what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative. Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy, and the color hit of Pop Art, Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means.

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The Good People by Hannah Kent (9 Feb 2017)
County Kerry, Ireland, 1825.

NÓRA, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband, finds herself alone and caring for her young grandson Micheál. Micheál cannot speak and cannot walk and Nóra is desperate to know what is wrong with him. What happened to the healthy, happy grandson she met when her daughter was still alive?

MARY arrives in the valley to help Nóra just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley.

NANCE’s knowledge keeps her apart. To the new priest, she is a threat, but to the valley people she is a wanderer, a healer. Nance knows how to use the plants and berries of the woodland; she understands the magic in the old ways. And she might be able to help Micheál.

As these three women are drawn together in the hope of restoring Micheál, their world of folklore and belief, of ritual and stories, tightens around them. It will lead them down a dangerous path, and force them to question everything they have ever known.

Based on true events and set in a lost world bound by its own laws, The Good People is Hannah Kent’s startling new novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this long-awaited follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers

 

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