At this point in Winter, we all need a break. If you’re like most people, it’s not feasible to hop on a plane. Instead, try immersing yourself in a new book from a far off place, and travel without leaving your favorite reading nook! Our January Friday Fiction presentation took us around the world with titles that are sure to provide you with plenty of new “destinations” and thought-provoking experiences to carry through until Spring.
We started in the US with Asymmetry,a debut by Lisa Halliday, which examined New York and America through the eyes of two very different and seemingly unconnected individuals. The connection is there, and finding it is the true reward of this novel. Then, Essayist Pam Houston took us to the great American Rockies of Colorado for an exploration of humanity’s relationship to the earth in Deep Creek. David Kipen paints a vivid picture of three centuries in Los Angeles through the writings of its famous denizens and visitors, and The Paragon Hotel fictionalizes the often overlooked history of Portland, Oregon.
From there we moved abroad to the mountain villages of China for a horrific satire in famed Chinese writer Yan Liang’s latest The Day the Sun Died, and then to the brutal realities of the Philipine-American War through the lens of a filmmaker in the experimental and ambitious Insurrecto. Then west to Madhuri Vijay’s tale of family secrets, political turmoil, and difficult choices in the Kashmiri region of India in her moving, atmospheric novel, The Far Field.
Next we visited West Africa and two very different novels from Nigeria: In the first, prize winning author Chigozie Obioma weaves Nigerian folklore and Greek legend into an intricate, heart wrenching tale of modern Nigeria. In the second, first time novelist Oyinkan Braithwaite treats us to a darkly humorous story about a young woman that has a bad habit of killing her boyfriends and the sister who has a bad habit of covering for her – that is until the latter’s new crush becomes the former’s new target.
Up on the European continent, we made many stops: First in Israel, for Amanda Sthers’ Holy Lands which contemplates modern technologies through the struggles of an estranged family. Then to Greece for a contemplative conversational novel that seeks the ultimate answers to difficult questions about acclaim, identity and sacrifice with Rachel Cusk’s Kudos. In Norway, North of Dawn describes the struggles of assimilation for a Somali family, and The Red Address Book describes the long, eventful and heartwarming life of a 96-six year old woman as she pages through her address book.
Finally, in England, we get two thrilling tales from very different corners. The first is a small but powerful novelization of a real and terrifying event that took place in the council estates in London, told through the eyes of several witnesses called In Our Mad and Furious City. The second is a true to form thriller-mystery set on the summer coast in Norfolk, England, where a long lost Au Pair must be tracked down years later to uncover long kept family secrets, a novel appropriately titled The Au Pair.
And finally, we are back in New York, with a gem of a novel called the Museum of Modern Love. This inspired story is framed by the moving performance art of the real Marina Abramovic, specifically an exhibition from 2010 called The Artist is Present, around which the heart broken fictional characters revolve. It’s a lovely book.
Our next live Friday Fiction presentation at the library is April 19, at 10:30AM. We will also be adding a second, evening event for readers, called Book Tastings, on April 24 at 7PM, which will feature many of the books from the April Friday Fiction. More details on that soon. Need more recommendations now? Contact Us!