Contemporary Fiction for June
The selection of new contemporary fiction for this month includes new work from many great writers, including, Iain Banks, Nadine Gordimer, John Irving and Paul Theroux.
The innocent / David Baldacci.
“Assassin Will Robie sees his latest assignment, to eliminate a US government employee, go badly wrong. Robie is now a wanted man. But it seems that he’s not the only one on the run. Young teenager Julie Getty is devastated by the inexplicable murder of her parents in their home. Who wanted them dead, and why, is a mystery. But Julie is smart enough to believe that their killer will come after her. Robie and Julie meet when he saves her from an attempt on her life as they were trying to leave town. The police investigating the hit start to take an interest in Robie. He’s particularly attracting the interest of Special Agent Nicole Vance, who believes that the two cases are connected. Robie finds himself in a dangerous position as he is asked to investigate a crime at which he was present.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
Stonemouth / Iain Banks.
“On a bleak day Stonemouth can seem to offer little more than sea-fog, gangsters, cheap drugs and a suspension bridge irresistible to suicides. There is supposed to be a truce between Stewart Gilmour and the town’s biggest crime family when he returns for a funeral, but it is soon clear that only he is taking this promise of peace seriously.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The Columbus affair : a novel / Steve Berry.
“Tom Sagan, a disgraced journalist of Jewish descent, is about to commit suicide when he is coerced into a plot to decipher secrets hidden in the coffin of his father. Sagan’s estranged daughter, Alle, has fallen into the hands of ruthless Zachariah Simon, a wealthy Orthodox Jew in search of a treasure supposedly hidden by Columbus somewhere in Jamaica. Simon has temporarily allied himself with Bene Rowe, a Jamaican Maroon, descendant of runaway slaves, who has his own reasons for finding the treasure. But does it exist and, if so, what exactly is it? Many will risk their lives to learn the truth.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
No time like the present / Nadine Gordimer.
“Steve, an industrial chemist who made bombs during the Struggle, has entered academia. Jabulile, whose wise headmaster father made sure she received a good education, endured prison and torture and is now studying law and advocating for the poor. The parents of a daughter and a son, they live in a diverse, embracing community outside Johannesburg, which belies the country’s violently divided past but cannot shield them from the crushing realities of current government corruption, persistent inequality, and monumental poverty.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Scenes from early life : a novel / Philip Hensher.
“At that time, there were children you weren’t supposed to play with. You knew why. Their parents had been informers during the war. And it hadn’t been long since you could have got into trouble for singing a song. My grandfather hid all his Bengali poetry in the cellar. “I was a baby during the war. We stayed inside for months. All my aunts took turns in feeding me. I couldn’t be heard to cry. You see, there were soldiers in the streets. They would have known what a crying baby meant. So I had to be kept silent. No, not everyone came out of the war alive.” One family’s life and a nation, Bangladesh, are uniquely created through conversation, sacrifice, songs, bonds, blood, bravery and jokes, narrated by a young boy born into a savage civil war.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
The map and the territory / Michel Houellebecq ; translated from the French by Gavin Bowd.
“Artist Jed Martin’s inexplicably powerful photographs of old Michelin maps bring him fame, wealth, and love. Brooding and insular, he next embarks on a series of paintings that pay homage to people and their work as the Industrial Revolution gives way to the digital revolution. Suddenly, things take a macabre turn as Jed is plunged into an appalling crime scene, and helping to solve this heinous crime will have lasting repercussions for his loved ones.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
In one person : a novel / John Irving.
“In Vermont lives fatherless Billy, whose lumberman-by-day, actor-by-night Grandpa Harry plays women’s roles with baffling authenticity. By the time Billy turns 13, he realizes that something sets him apart beyond his speech impediment and determination to become a writer, namely his crushes on the wrong people, including his future stepfather, teacher and Shakespeare scholar Richard, and Miss Frost, the tall, strong librarian who eventually proves to be the key to the truth about Billy’s bisexuality and his biological father.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
When nights were cold / Susanna Jones.
“As Queen Victoria’s reign reaches its end, Grace Farringdon dreams of polar explorations and of escape from her stifling home with her protective parents and eccentric, agoraphobic sister. But when Grace secretly applies to Candlin, a women’s college filled with intelligent, like-minded women, she finally feels her ambitions beginning to be take shape. There she forms an Antarctic Exploration Society with the gregarious suffragette Locke, the reserved and studious Hooper and the strange, enigmatic Parr, and before long the group are defying their times and their families by climbing the peaks of Snowdonia and planning an ambitious trip to the perilous Alps. Fifteen years later, trapped in her Dulwich home, Grace is haunted by the terrible events that took place out on the mountains. She is the society’s only survivor and for years people have demanded the truth of what happened, the group’s horrible legacy a millstone around her neck. Now, as the eve of the Second World War approaches, Grace is finally ready to remember and to confess.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
Objects of my affection : a novel / Jill Smolinski.
“When Lucy Bloom is hired by Will Meier to help his mother, famed painted Marva Meier Rios, clean out her house, she knows it won’t be an easy task. Marva is a hoarder, with rooms filled to the ceiling with piles of belongings, but Lucy needs the job after paying for a pricey rehab facility for her teenage son, Ash, whose drug addiction has spiraled out of control. Marva proves a prickly customer, and soon Lucy has to grapple with the shocking discovery of Marva’s real motivation for getting rid of her possessions.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The lower river / Paul Theroux.
“Ellis Hock’s wife has cut him loose, the family clothing store is obsolete, and his daughter only wants her inheritance. What keeps the 62-year-old sane are his memories of 40 years ago when he taught school in Malawi. A return to Africa might rekindle Ellis’s youthful idealism, but the atmosphere is menacing from the moment he arrives; smiling faces hide smoldering resentment, the school he helped build is a shambles, the people are emaciated and guarded. Provided with a hut, Ellis metes out money, bribes for necessities, until solitude and malaria strip him of the strength to fight what feels more like imprisonment than hospitality.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)