Fiction

  • There There

    Tommy Orange

    Multilinear novels always take a risk of remaining fragmented, never fully weaving the strands together, and There There struggles with this a bit, its cast of characters all moving toward the Big Oakland Powwow where a violent catastrophe awaits. Starting with a lyrical prologue that briefly encapsulates a progression of Native...more

  • Wolf Hall

    Hilary Mantel

    Whenever I read a historical novel, I make some kind of disclaimer about the genre not being something I’m usually interested in; hence why Wolf Hall sat on my to-read list for many years — on the one hand I felt swayed by all the recognition it received and on the other uncertain, because would I really like a book about Henry...more

  • The Best Kind of People

    Zoe Whittal

    A very engaging story about a stereotypical, seemingly-perfect family in a small Connecticut town suddenly thrown into distress when the father George Woodbury, a science teacher at a private school, is accused of sexual misconduct after a school-related ski trip. Years before he had tackled a gunman in the school, saving students from a...more

  • This Is Not Your City

    Caitlin Horrocks

    You could summarize this collection as: stories of isolation from the perspective of female characters. While I think the collection could have varied a bit more in overall feeling, Caitlin Horrocks creates some pretty exceptional moments and her characters are distinct. She has a very intuitive perspective that makes for rich stories that feel...more

  • Long Division

    Kiese Laymon

    There are just enough time periods and stories within stories woven into this novel that in some ways I felt like I had to suspend my disbelief and not examine the technicalities too closely or the shifts and nested turns wouldn’t actually line up. But I read most of the book in one day, so it was not difficult to get lost in the...more

  • Fen

    Daisy Johnson

    Fanciful stories situated in eastern England’s marshy flatlands, populated with creatures from folklore and comprised of odd events only partially explained. The local pub is always the Fox and Hounds, and the narrator is always a woman, and usually she is young. There isn’t much differentiation in the characters and...more

  • Go, Went, Gone

    Jenny Erpenbeck

    I read Go, Went, Gone several months ago, and if I hadn’t collected some notes back then I probably wouldn’t have been able to post anything about it. Happily I wrote down enough to resurface some memories, as this is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It has a clear political message, so it will appeal...more

  • Manhattan Beach

    Jennifer Egan

    Compared to A Visit From the Goon Squad and other pieces of short fiction Jennifer Egan has published in the years since, her newest novel Manhattan Beach is unexpectedly straightforward. Moving from those experimental, future-reaching works, she has turned to historical...more

  • The Book of Dust

    Philip Pullman

    Seventeen years after the final book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman returns to the same world for a new trilogy, La Belle Sauvage. While this first book in the new series does include the character Lyra who was the heart of the first series, she is only a baby...more

  • Wildwood Imperium

    Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis

    A jam-packed finale to this trilogy set in a version of Portland where Forest Park is the Impassable Wilderness, a magical land most humans in the city can’t physically enter. After establishing a new set of characters and new thread of narrative in the second book, this one starts with yet another new thread. It makes the story get...more

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