Books We Can't Put Down
White Dog Fell From the Sky
by Eleanor Morse
Sydney Writers' Festival
The fantastic Sydney Writers' Festival kicks off 20-26 May 2013. OurBookClub had an absolute ball last year at the event, finding some great authors and are upset at not being able to attend this year. Stories lie at the heart of our lives. We need them to understand ourselves, to understand others, to make sense of the world around us. This year, Sydney Writers’ Festival looks at the depth and breadth of storytelling and celebrates the simple pleasure of being told a great tale. Some fantastic authors from Ruby Wax, Anita Desai, Gillian Mears, Cheryl Strayed, Deamot Healy, Faramerz Dabhoiwala, Kate Atkinson, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Claire Messud and the list goes on with some of the biggest names in literature globally as well as focus on some famous local names. This year it looks like Sydney Writers' Festival will bring together a fantastic array of talent. If you are in Sydney, head on down to the Walsh Bay area or go online and grab some tickets at the SWF Website for events such as Festival Club. Can't make it, then go behind th escenes with the SWF Blog which looks fascinating so far. Oh and make sure you pencil it in the diary for next year, I know I will be.
Coming Book Releases
2013 looks like another blockbuster year with new novels by Lionel Shriver, Meg Wolitzer, Kate Atkinson, Khaled Hosseini, Elizabeth Strout and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the top of our reading list.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini's debut novel, The Kite Runner, was one of the Best Books of the Last Decade. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, was equally acclaimed. In both these stories, Hosseini brought to life characters in Afghanistan, helping humanize for many Americans the people and places where we were at war post-9/11. Although America is still involved in a war in Afghanistan, it is one that gets little attention and our relationship with that country has become less of a "hot topic." Still, Hosseini is a great writer not just for his timely subject area, but also for his plot and character development. It will be interesting to see how his next book, And the Mountains Echoed, compares with his first two. As the Mountains Echoed was described early on as a novel about family relationships and how we take care of each other. I can't wait to see what that means. To be published 21 May 2013.
The Son by Michel Rostain
We first meet Michel eleven days after the death of his son Lion. Lion was lost, suddenly, to a virulent strain of meningitis and it's left his father and entire family reeling. We join Michel on his personal journey through grief, but the twist that makes the journey truly remarkable, and tips this true story into fiction, is the fact that we see it all through Lion's eyes. In a stunningly original blurring of memoir and fiction, THE SON tackles the very hardest of subjects in the most readable of ways. Michel Rostain resolutely ducks away from sentimentality and pathos, and tells his story instead with wit, wisdom and vitality. For this is not a book about death; it's a book about life. Out 23 May 2013.
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
The Engagements digs deep into the lives of four couples, each at a different stage in their relationship—one married 40 years, one heading for bitter divorce after infidelity, one with two young children and too little income, and another together for 10 years but not married. This rich and layered novel by J. Courtney Sullivan also tells the true-life story of Frances Gerety, a successful Madison Avenue copywriter in the 1940s and ’50s who came up with the infamous tagline "A Diamond Is Forever." Due out on 11 June 2013.
A Million Years With You by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
From legendary naturalist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas—now in her 80s—comes A Million Years With You, a memoir of an extraordinary life spent observing and interpreting other cultures and species. With her keen insight and unfailing eloquence, Marshall Thomas will captivate readers—whether she’s discussing her days spent with the Ju/wa Bushmen in the Kalahari; her magical childhood and, later, building her own family; being in Uganda just before Idi Amin came to power or her study of various animals. Due 11 June 2013.
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
Few people these days may realize that back in the early ’60s, the young wives of America’s first astronauts—the Mercury Seven—were nearly just as famous as their husbands, having tea with Mrs. Kennedy, posing for spreads in Life magazine, and attending countless glamorous galas. They formed The Astronaut Wives Club and became integral parts of each other’s lives, many still friends more than 40 years later. The heroes behind the heroes finally get their due in Lily Koppel’s fascinating, behind-the-scenes peek at their lives. Due 11 June 2013.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is not a children’s book, even though the narrator is looking back 40 years, recalling horrifying events that happened when he was only seven years old. Neil Gaiman’s latest is a tale of suicide, dark forces, otherworldly creatures and a child’s fight for survival. He turns to three women who live at the end of the lane for help, one of whom claims to remember the Big Bang. Sounds mysterious, imaginative, dark—a story that is sure to be beautifully woven by the brilliant Gaiman. Due 18 June 2013.
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House). Five years after the runaway success of American Wife, Sittenfeld returns with the story of twin sisters: Vi, a professed psychic, and Kate, a wife and mother in denial of her talents. When Vi predicts a devastating earthquake is around the corner, Kate must decide whether to support her sister and out herself for the potential good of the community, or continue to ignore her own instincts. Available on 25 June 2013.
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
The author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli returns with another magical story. After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present. Whisked from the gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages of the West Village to a martini-fueled lunch at the Oak Room, in these other worlds, Greta finds her brother alive and well—though fearfully masking his true personality. And her former lover is now her devoted husband…but will he be unfaithful to her in this life as well? Greta Wells is fascinated by her alter egos: in 1941, she is a devoted mother; in 1918, she is a bohemian adulteress. Due for release 25 June 2013.
My Education by Susan Choi
Susan Choi’s fourth novel, My Education (Viking), is the story of 21-year-old Regina, who is accepted to a graduate program at a prestigious university. Her seminar professor, Nicholas Brodeur, is known for his less-than-savory behavior toward students, and Regina prides herself on not falling for his lures. But in escaping one unwise liaison she falls into another: An illicit, passionate relationship with Nicholas’ wife, Martha. “You know exactly what I’m doing,” I said crossly, so irked by her tone that for a moment my fear was forgotten and sinking my hand in her heavy blond hair I took hold of the hot, perspiration-damp slope of the nape of her neck, and raised my chin slightly and drew her toward me, for she was the slightest bit, perhaps a finger’s width, taller—I’d been right, she had known—the thought came to me but could not be completed as my tongue filled her mouth and we bloomed smoothly out of our skins as if some gorgeous fruit that aspires to devour itself. Due for Release 3 July 2013.
Tampa by Alissa Nutting
I’d hazard a guess that a significant number of readers will put Tampa (Ecco) down after reading a few pages. An equally significant portion will be staying up all night to finish it. The first novel from Nutting (following the short story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls), Tampa is told from the point of view of Celeste, a stunning, married 26-year-old middle school teacher with a handsome and devoted husband, Ford. Problem is, he’s not her type. Tampa is impressive in its total commitment to telling a story in the voice of a character that the reader can’t help but be repelled by. (Warning: As mentioned above, there are some very explicit scenes.) Celeste is a sociopath, utterly without remorse and completely driven by her desire for pre-pubescent boys. As she cold-heartedly lays out her plan to seduce what she sees as her most vulnerable and most desirable student, it’s like being hypnotized by a cobra. Is the novel smart and subversive, or simply purient? Watercooler chat for sure. Due for Release 2 July 2013.
Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine
News that this summer will bring smart beach reading from Schine makes me happy. Fin is 11 when his parents die in 1964, and he is sent to live with his older sister, Lady. But Lady is a free spirit, and Fin soon realizes he’s as much her caregiver as she is his. Due for release 9 July 2013.
Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett
A sequel of sorts to her last book The Writing Class, Amy Falls Down also stars bitter novelist Amy Gallup. The endearingly bitter writer, Amy Gallup has happily isolated herself from the world spending the last two decades teaching and reviewing—she’s done a lot of thinking . . . but very little writing. On an unassuming morning, in her slippers, Amy trips in her backyard, goes head-over-heels, and into the side of a birdbath. The hospital clears her of head injury—so Amy returns home. When a local reporter shows up for a scheduled interview—Amy is not quite herself. The article paints Amy as a the zen-goddess of writing, publishing . . . and life. Her bizarre interview was interpreted as the rambling of a true genius. But all that really happened was: Amy fell down! Due for release 9 July 2013.
The Never List by Koethi Zan
For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the “Never List”: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism. Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, living as a virtual recluse under a new name, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail. Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias and the other survivors—who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, she begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined. Available 16 July 2013 or 4 July 2013 if you have a Kindle.
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
In 1950, a young docor called Norton Perina signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu'ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub "The Dreamers," who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. As things quickly spiral out of his control, his own demons take hold, with devastating personal consequences. Released 13 August 2013.
Archangel by Andrea Barrett
Winner of the National Book Award for her collection of stories Ship Fever, Andrea Barrett has become one of our most admired and beloved writers. In this magnificent new book, she unfolds five pivotal moments in the lives of her characters and in the history of knowledge. During the summer of 1908, twelve-year-old Constantine Boyd is witness to an explosion of home-spun investigation—from experiments with cave-dwelling fish without eyes to scientifically bred crops to motorized bicycles and the flight of an early aeroplane. In 1920, a popular science writer and young widow tries, immediately after the bloodbath of the First World War, to explain the new theory of relativity to an audience (herself included) desperate to believe in an “ether of space” housing spirits of the dead. Half a century earlier, in 1873, a famous biologist struggles to maintain his sense of the hierarchies of nature as Darwin’s new theory of evolution threatens to make him ridiculous in the eyes of a precocious student. The twentieth-century realms of science and war collide in the last two stories, as developments in genetics and X-ray technology that had once held so much promise fail to protect humans—among them, a young American soldier, Constantine Boyd, sent to Archangel, Russia, in 1919—from the failures of governments and from the brutality of war. Released 19 August 2013.
After Her by Joyce Maynard
It's the summer of 1979, and a dry, hot, northern California school vacation stretches ahead for Rachel and her younger sister Patty - the daughters a larger-than-life, irresistibly handsome and chronically unfaithful detective father who loves to make women happy, and the mother whose heart he broke. Left to their own devices, the inseparable sisters spend their days studying record jackets, concocting elaborate fantasies about the life of the mysterious neighbor who moves in down the street, and playing dangerous games on the mountain that rises up behind their house. When young women start showing up dead on the mountain, the girls' father is charged with finding the man responsible, known as The Sunset Strangler. Seeing her father's life slowly unravel when he fails to stop the murders, Rachel embarks on her most dangerous game yet: setting herself up as bait to catch the killer, with consequences that will destroy her father's career and alter the lives of everyone she loves. It is not until thirty years later that Rachel, who has never given up hope of vindicating her father, finally smokes out the killer, bringing her back to the territory of her childhood, and uncovering a long-buried family secret. As with her novel, Labor Day, Maynard's newest work is part thriller, part love story, Loosely inspired by the Trailside Killer case that terrorized Marin County in the late seventies, her tale delves deep into the alternately thrilling and terrifying landscape of a young girl's first explorations of adult sexuality and the loss of innocence, the bond between sisters - and into a daughter's tender but damaged relationship with her father, and what it is to finally trust a man. Released 20 August 2013.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years. For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world. The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more. Released 20 August 2013.
Clare of the Sea-Light by Edwidge Danticat
Claire Limyè Lanmè--Claire of the Sea Light--is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in a seaside town in Haiti. Claire's mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother's grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper who lost a child of her own, so he can give her a better life. But on the night of Claire's seventh birthday, when he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets and startling truths are unearthed among a host of men and women whose stories connect to Claire, her parents, and the town itself. Told with the piercing lyricism and economy of a fable, Claire of the Sea Light explores what it means to be a parent, child, neighbor, lover, and friend, while indelibly revealing the mysterious connections we share with the natural world and with one another, amid the magic and heartbreak of ordinary life. Released 27 August 2013.
If you know of any books that are being released or if there are any authors or publishers who would like to send us their newest books, please let OurBookClub know, we'd love to review them for our site!