By Leif Enger
Midwestern movie house owner Virgil Wander is "cruising along at medium altitude" when his car flies off the road into icy Lake Superior. Virgil survives but his language and memory are altered and he emerges into a world no longer familiar to him. Awakening in this new life, Virgil begins to piece together his personal history and the lore of his broken town, with the help of a cast of affable and curious locals?from Rune, a twinkling, pipe-smoking, kite-flying stranger investigating the mystery of his disappeared son; to Nadine, the reserved, enchanting wife of the vanished man, to Tom, a journalist and Virgil's oldest friend; and various members of the Pea family who must confront tragedies of their own. Into this community returns a shimmering prodigal son who may hold the key to reviving their town.With intelligent humor and captivating whimsy, Leif Enger conjures a remarkable portrait of a region and its residents, who, for reasons of choice or circumstance, never made it out of their defunct industrial district. Carried aloft by quotidian pleasures including movies, fishing, necking in parked cars, playing baseball and falling in love, Virgil Wander is a swift, full journey into the heart and heartache of an often overlooked American Upper Midwest by a "formidably gifted" (Chicago Tribune) master storyteller.
The Verdun Affair
By Nick Dybek
'The Verdun Affair is ravishingly beautiful, and as much about love as about war . . . Dybek is a storyteller of great power. If there's any justice, this novel will be widely read and recognized. I absolutely adored it' Paula McLain, bestselling author of THE PARIS WIFE and CIRCLING THE SUNA sweeping, romantic, and profoundly moving novel, set in Europe in the aftermath of World War I and Los Angeles in the 1950s, about a lonely young man, a beautiful widow, and the amnesiac soldier whose puzzling case binds them together even as it tears them apart.In 1920, two young Americans meet in Verdun, the city in France where one of the most devastating battles of the war was waged. Tom is an orphan from Chicago, a former ambulance driver now gathering bones from the battlefield; Sarah is an expatriate from Boston searching for the husband who wandered off from his division and hasn't been seen since. Quickly, the two fall into a complicated affair against the ghostly backdrop of the ruined city. Months later, Sarah and Tom meet again at the psychiatric ward of an Italian hospital, drawn there by the appearance of a mysterious patient the doctors call Douglas Fairbanks (after the silent film actor) - a shell-shocked soldier with no memory of who he is. At the hospital, Tom and Sarah are joined by Paul, an Austrian journalist with his own interest in the amnesiac.Each is keeping a secret; each has been shaken by the horrors of war. Decades later, Tom, now a successful screenwriter, encounters Paul by chance in LA, still grappling with the questions raised by this gorgeous and incisive novel: How to begin again after unfathomable trauma? How to love after so much loss? And who, in the end, was Douglas Fairbanks?From the bone-strewn fields of Verdun to the bombed-out cafés of Paris, from the riot-torn streets of Bologna to the riotous parties of 1950s Hollywood, The Verdun Affair is a riveting tale of romance, grief and the far-reaching consequences of a single lie.
By Daniel Raeburn
An unforgettable portrait of a marriage tested to its limits.When Dan, a writer with a passion for underground comics, and his wife Bekah, a potter dedicated to traditional Japanese ceramics, met through a mutual friend, they swiftly fell in love. "Of all the women I've ever met," Dan told a friend, "she's the first one who felt like family." But at Christmas, as they prepared for the birth of their first child, tragedy struck.Based on Daniel Raeburn's acclaimed New Yorker essay, Vessels: A Memoir of What Wasn't is the story of how the couple clashed and clung to each other through a series of unsuccessful pregnancies before finally, joyfully, becoming parents. In prose as handsomely unadorned as his wife's pottery, Raeburn recounts a marriage cemented by the same events that nearly broke it.Vessels is an unflinching, enormously moving account of intimacy, endurance and love.
Voices in the Night
By Steven Millhauser
Beloved for the lens of the strange he places on small-town life, Steven Millhauser further reveals in Voices in the Night the darkest parts of our inner selves to brilliant and dazzling effect. Here are stories of wondrously imaginative hyperrealism, stories that pose unsettling what-ifs or that find barely perceivable evils within the safe boundaries of our towns, homes, and even our bodies. Here, too, are stories culled from religion and fables: from Samuel, who in the masterly "A Voice in the Night" hears the voice of God calling him in the night; to a young, pre-enlightenment Buddha; to Rapunzel and her Prince awakened only to everyday disappointment. Heightened by magic, the divine, and the uncanny, shot through with sly humour, Voices in the Night seamlessly combines the whimsy and surprise of the familiar with intoxicating fantasies that take us beyond our daily lives, all done with the hallmark sleight of hand and astonishing virtuosity of one of our greatest modern storytellers.
Valour And Vanity
By Mary Robinette Kowal
Murano, ItalyWhen a family celebration brings Glamourists Jane and David Vincent to the Continent, they seize the opportunity to voyage for Murano, to study the world-renowned glassblowers at work. But their ship is set upon by Barbary corsairs en route - and they arrive in Murano penniless.Fortunately, they meet a gentleman banker who arranges for a line of credit and a place to live. But just as the Vincents start to relax, a solicitor arrives at their house and it becomes clear they have been the victims of an elaborate heist.Trapped, penniless, their safety in fragile shape, they hatch a reckless plan to get their money back. The ensuing adventure is a glorious envisioning of all the best parts of heist narratives, but in a Regency setting - with magic.
By John Burdett
Nobody knows Bangkok like Royal Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, and there is no one quite like Sonchai: a police officer who has kept his Buddhist soul intact-more or less-despite the fact that his job shoves him face-to-face with some of the most vile and outrageous crimes and criminals in Bangkok. But for his newest assignment, everything he knows about his city-and himself-will be a mere starting point.He's put in charge of the highest-profile criminal case in Thailand-an attempt to bring an end to trafficking in human organs. He sets in motion a massive sting operation and stays at its center, traveling to Phuket, Hong Kong, Dubai, Shanghai, and Monte Carlo. He draws in a host of unwitting players that includes an aging rock star wearing out his second liver and the mysterious, diabolical, albeit gorgeous co-queenpins of the international body-parts trade: the Chinese twins known as the Vultures. And yet, it's closer to home that Sonchai will discover things getting really dicey: rumors will reach him suggesting that his ex-prostitute wife, Chanya, is having an affair. Will Sonchai be enlightened enough-forget Buddha, think jealous husband-to cope with his very own compromised and compromising world? All will be revealed here, in John Burdett's most mordantly funny, propulsive, fiendishly entertaining novel yet.Praise for John Burdett and his Bangkok novels:'Cracking East meets West thriller introducing a half-Thai, half-American cop whose Buddhist beliefs are as important as his forensic skills. Terrific' Observer.'A fantastic new thriller with an avenging Buddhist cop as its central character' Mail on Sunday.'Read this book, savour the language - it's the last and most compelling word in thrillers' James Ellroy.'Impeccably researched, this is sometimes poetic, often exotic, and totally hardcore' Daily Mirror."Burdett's fever-dream mysteries, set in Bangkok, recast the police procedural as psychedelic peep show." The New Yorker."Burdett is purely and simply a wonderful writer." The Washington Post Book World.
A Visit From the Goon Squad
By Jennifer Egan
Jennifer Egan's spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an ageing former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life-divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house-and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, revelling in San Francisco's punk scene as he discovers his ardour for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang-who thrived and who faltered-and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie's catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou's far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to Powerpoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both-and escape the merciless progress of time-in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.