This month’s selection of new Contemporary fiction varies in theme from modern day family life to suspenseful thrillers, from historical to horror. Highly recommended is the new novel from prize winning author J. M Coetzee, titled, The Childhood of Jesus. A glimpse of the ‘modern life’ some have to endure.
The childhood of Jesus / J. M. Coetzee.
“After crossing oceans, a man and a boy arrive in a new land. Here they are each assigned a name and an age, and held in a camp in the desert while they learn Spanish, the language of their new country. As Simón and David they make their way to the relocation centre in the city of Novilla, where officialdom treats them politely but not necessarily helpfully. Simón finds a job in a grain wharf. He must set about his task of locating the boy’s mother. Though like everyone else who arrives in this new country he seems to be washed clean of all traces of memory, he is convinced he will know her when he sees her. And indeed, while walking with the boy in the countryside Simón catches sight of a woman he is certain is the mother, and persuades her to assume the role.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
The striker / Clive Cussler and Justin Scott.
“It is 1902, and Bell is a raw young detective, his keen intellect and jump-in-with-both-feet attitude un-tempered by experience. When he manages to convince his boss to let him prove that a run of sabotage in coal mines is more than the actions of some union activists, Bell soon finds himself with some very powerful and determined enemies.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
The round house / Louise Erdrich.
“One Sunday in 1988, thirteen-year-old Joe Coutts learns that his mother has been the victim of a brutal attack by a man on their North Dakota reservation. Joe’s mother is traumatized and afraid. She takes to her bed, and refuses to talk to anyone, including the police; meanwhile his father, a tribal judge, endeavours to wrest justice from a situation that defies his keenest efforts. Frustrated, confused and nursing a complicated fury, Joe sets out with his best friends Cappy, Zack and Angus in search of answers that might put his mother’s attacker behind bars and set his family’s world straight again.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
Villa Triste / Lucretia Grindle.
“When two sisters are forced to make impossible decisions while living under the brutal Nazi occupation of Italy, their actions set off a chain of events that ultimately impact a murder investigation sixty years later.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The obituary writer / Ann Hood.
“Vivien Lowe is an obituary writer in San Francisco obsessed with finding her lover, lost in the 1906 earthquake. She imagines him merely missing or suffering from amnesia because she cannot accept he might be dead; she knows that time does not heal, that grief never goes away. Meanwhile, decades into the future, privileged housewife Claire is bored with her marriage to Peter, a good provider but a demanding perfectionist, and launches an affair that Peter soon discovers. As this is 1961, she must stay in the marriage or risk losing their daughter. Claire attends the 80th birthday party of her formidable mother-in-law, Birdie. Birdie’s illness at the party unites the lives of Vivien and Claire, and their astonishing connection is revealed.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Fever / Mary Beth Keane.
“In the early 20th century in bustling and grimy New York City, Mary Mallon (1869-1938) became a medical first when she was identified as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. Unknowingly, the house cook was passing the disease to families around the city. Eventually, typhoid outbreaks were traced to Mary, and she was placed in isolation. She was released three years later on the condition she would never cook again, but that promise proved hard for her to keep.This is the tragic tale of “Typhoid Mary” and the dangerous decisions she made while following her passion for cooking.“ (adapted from Synetics summary)
A tale for the time being / Ruth Ozeki.
“In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.” (adapted from Amazon.com)
Light shining in the forest / Paul Torday.
“Norman Stokoe has just been appointed Children’s Czar by the new government. He sells his flat and moves up north to take up the position. However before his first salary cheque has even hit his bank account, new priorities are set for the government department for which he works. The Children’s Czar Network is put on hold but it is too late to reverse the decision to employ Norman. So he is given a P.A. and a spacious office in a new business park on the banks of the Tyne. He settles down in his new leather chair behind his new desk, to wait for the green light to begin his mission. The green light never comes. What does happen is that two children go missing. As Children’s Czar he is now faced with a campaigning journalist and a distraught mother, he is forced to become involved. The search will take him to dark places and will make him ask questions about the system he is supposed to uphold.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
I remember you / Yrsa Sigurdardóttir ; translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton.
“In an isolated village in the Icelandic Westfjords, three friends set to work renovating a derelict house. But soon they realize they are not alone there, something wants them to leave, and it is making its presence felt.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)