Travel the world in this month’s selection of new Contemporary Fiction. Apart from the usual British London and American California settings, this month we have novels set in the Northern Territory, Australia, Prague, Bombay, Norway and Pakistan.
In the orchard, the swallows / Peter Hobbs.
“A moving story of lost love across war-torn Pakistan. As a boy, attending a local wedding in Pakistan, the hero fell in love with the daughter of a prominent politician and was promptly imprisoned. Unexpectedly released after 15 years, he takes the long journey back to the orchard of his beloved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The evening chorus : a novel / Helen Humphreys.
“Shot down on his first RAF mission, James Hunter spends his war in a German prison camp. The other captive soldiers busy themselves planning their escapes, but James dedicates himself to a detailed study of the redstarts nesting just beyond the camp boundaries, a project that gives him something to live for and earns him an unusual ally in the Kommandant in charge of the camp. Rose, James’s young wife, is spending her war in a cottage on the lip of Ashdown Forest in Sussex, with her dog Harris for company. She’d hardly known James before he went away and can barely engage with his letters, which talk of nothing but birds. Now she has fallen in love with someone else, Toby, a young pilot home on sick leave.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Fear of dying / Erica Jong.
“As the afternoon of life looms over Vanessa Wonderman, she watches her parents age, attends doctor appointments with her pregnant daughter, and sits by the hospital bed of her husband, Asher, fifteen years her senior. With her best years as an actress behind her, she’s discovering that beginnings are easy, but endings can be hard. Could her fountain of youth fantasies be fulfilled on zipless.com? A site inspired by the writings of her best friend, Isadora Wing, it promises “no strings attached” encounters-and Vanessa is so restless that she’s willing to try anything.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The dead student / John Katzenbach.
“Timothy Warner, a PhD student who goes by the nickname “Moth,” wakes up on his ninety-ninth day of sobriety with an intense craving for drink. He asks his uncle Ed, a former alcoholic and now successful psychiatrist, to meet him at an AA meeting later that day. When Ed doesn’t show up, Moth bikes to his office and discovers a grisly scene, his uncle shot through the temple. Devastated and confused, he calls on the only person he thinks he can trust: Andrea Martine, an ex-girlfriend he has not spoken to in years. Each battling their inner demons, Moth and Andy travel into dark, unfamiliar territory, intent on finding out the truth about Ed’s death and circling ever closer to a devious mind that will flinch at nothing to achieve his own goal of revenge.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Midnight sun / Jo Nesbø ; translated from the Norwegian by Neil Smith.
“Jon is on the run. He has betrayed Oslo’s biggest crime lord: The Fisherman. Fleeing to an isolated corner of Norway, to a mountain town so far north that the sun never sets, Jon hopes to find sanctuary amongst a local religious sect. Hiding out in a shepherd’s cabin in the wilderness, all that stands between him and his fate are Lea, a bereaved mother and her young son, Knut. But while Lea provides him with a rifle and Knut brings essential supplies, the midnight sun is slowly driving Jon to insanity. And then he discovers that The Fisherman’s men are getting close.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Spirits of the Ghan / Judy Nunn.
“It is 2001 and as the world charges into the new Millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a long-lived vision to create the ‘backbone of the continent’, a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End. But construction of the final leg between Alice Springs and Darwin will not be without its complications, for much of the desert it will cross is Aboriginal land. Hired as a negotiator, Jessica Manning must walk a delicate line to reassure the Elders their sacred sites will be protected. Will her innate understanding of the spiritual landscape, rooted in her own Arunta heritage, win their trust?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The mountain shadow / Gregory David Roberts.
“The long awaited sequel to Shantaram. It has been two years since the events in Shantaram, and since Lin lost two people he had come to love: his father figure, Khaderbhai, and his soul mate, Karla, married to a handsome Indian media tycoon. Lin returns from a smuggling trip to a city that seems to have changed too much, too soon. Many of his old friends are long gone, the new mafia leadership has become entangled in increasingly violent and dangerous intrigues, and a fabled holy man challenges everything that Lin thought he’d learned about love and life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The hundred year flood : a novel / Matthew Salesses.
“This debut novel follows twenty-two-year-old Tee as he escapes to Prague in the wake of his uncle’s suicide and the aftermath of 9/11. Tee tries to convince himself that living in a new place will mean a new identity and a chance to shed the parallels between him and his adopted father. His life intertwines with Pavel Picasso, a painter famous for revolution; Katka, his equally alluring wife; and Picasso’s partner, a giant of a man with an American name. In the shadow of a looming flood that comes every one hundred years, Tee contemplates his own place in life as both mixed and adopted and as an American in a strange land full of heroes, myths, and ghosts.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Gold fame citrus / Claire Vaye Watkins.
“Drought has transfigured Southern California into a surreal, phantasmagoric landscape. Most of the Southwest has been evacuated. Luz and Ray are holdouts, squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion and subsisting on rationed cola and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise, their love somehow blooming in this arid place. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, their thirst for a better future begins.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The gap of time : a novel / Jeanette Winterson.
“The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s “late plays.” It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father, daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited. In The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson’s cover version of The Winter’s Tale, is set in London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, and storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)