In this month’s selection of new Contemporary fiction, there are several historical novels, and three debut novels from promising new talents. One of these, titled Inch Levels by Neil Hegarty is highly recommended, a very talented writer. Also recommended is Arudpragasam Anuk’s, beautifully written debut novel titled The story of a brief marriage, although quite heart breaking.
The story of a brief marriage / Anuk Arudpragasam.
“This haunting debut novel takes place in a Sri Lankan civil-war-evacuee camp. The opening scene in which a young boy’s shrapnel-damaged forearm is amputated with a kitchen knife prepares readers for what is to come, as newlyweds Dinesh and Ganga, who barely know each other, try to navigate the intimacies of marriage in the midst of great brutality.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The terranauts / T. Coraghessan Boyle.
“It is 1994, and in the desert near Tillman, Arizona, forty miles from Tucson, a grand experiment involving the future of humanity is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the “Terranauts,” have been selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-earth colony. Their sealed, three-acre compound comprises five biomes, rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean, and marsh, and enough wildlife, water, and vegetation to sustain them. Closely monitored by an all-seeing Mission Control, this New Eden is the brainchild of ecovisionary Jeremiah Reed, aka G.C.–“God the Creator”–for whom the project is both an adventure in scientific discovery and a momentous publicity stunt. The Terranauts face increased scrutiny and a host of disasters, both natural and of their own making, their mantra: “Nothing in, nothing out,” becomes a dangerously ferocious rallying cry.” (Adaptrd from Syndetics summary)
The gentleman from Japan : an Inspector O novel / James Church.
“Under the guise of machinery for making dumplings, a Spanish factory near Barcelona is secretly producing a key component in the production of nuclear weapons. When information finds its way to the inboxes of Western intelligence agencies that this “dumpling maker” is meant for North Korea, orders go out that the shipment must be stopped. Carefully planted bits of information and bizarre events have led both the Spanish factory and those trying to intercept the machine to conclude that Japanese criminal organizations are involved in buying and transporting the “dumpling” machine in order to hide the involvement of North Korea.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Inch levels / Neil Hegarty.
“Patrick Jackson lies on his deathbed in Derry and recalls a family history marked by secrecy and silence, and a striking absence of conventional pieties. He remembers the death of an eight-year-old girl, whose body was found on reclaimed land called Inch Levels on the shoreline of Lough Swilly. And he is visited by his beloved but troubled sister Margaret and by his despised brother-in-law Robert, and by Sarah, his hard, unchallengeable mother. Each of them could talk about events in the past that might explain the bleakness of their relationships, but leaving things unsaid has become a way of life. Guilt and memory beat against them, as shock waves from bombs in Derry travel down the river to shake the windows of those who have escaped the city.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The Secret of Spandau / Peter Lovesey.
“Rudolf Hess was the most closely guarded prisoner in the world. Forty-five years after his capture in Scotland on a supposed peace mission he was still in Spandau Prison. Why was it necessary to keep him there so long? He was a Nazi, but one with a damaging tale to tell.If anyone can reach him it is Berlin correspondent Red Goodbody, known for his foolhardiness, but also for his daring and panache. The fear is that the stability of Western Europe may be undermined by what Hess can reveal; and so both the KGB and MI5 move into action to protect the extraordinary secret of Spandau.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Bright, precious days / Jay McInerney.
“Even decades after their arrival, Corrine and Russell Calloway still feel as if they’re living the dream that drew them to New York City in the first place: book parties; high-society events; jobs they care about (and in fact love); twin children; a loft in TriBeCa and summers in the Hamptons. But all of this comes at a fiendish cost. Russell, an independent publisher, has superb cultural credentials yet minimal cash flow; as he navigates a business that requires, beyond astute literary judgment, constant financial improvisation, he encounters an audacious, potentially game-changing or ruinous opportunity. Corrine’s world is turned upside down when the man with whom she’d had an ill-fated affair in the wake of 9/11 suddenly reappears. The Calloways will find themselves and their marriage tested more severely than they ever could have imagined.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The man with the poison gun : a Cold War spy story / Serhii Plokhy.
“In the fall of 1961, KGB assassin Bogdan Stashinsky defected to West Germany. After spilling his secrets to the CIA, Stashinsky was put on trial in what would be the most publicized assassination case of the entire Cold War. The publicity stirred up by the Stashinsky case forced the KGB to change its modus operandi abroad and helped end the career of Aleksandr Shelepin, one of the most ambitious and dangerous Soviet leaders. Stashinsky’s testimony, implicating the Kremlin rulers in political assassinations carried out abroad, shook the world of international politics. Stashinsky’s story is an unparalleled insight into the shadowy world of Cold War espionage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Idaho : a novel / Emily Ruskovich.
“A tale told from multiple perspectives traces the complicated relationship between Ann and Wade on a rugged landscape and how they came together in the aftermath of his first wife’s imprisonment for a violent murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Swing time / Zadie Smith.
“Two brown girls dream of being dancers, but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. This is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Winter sky : a novel / Chris Stewart.
“Lucas is a fighter in the Polish Resistance Movement during World War II. But when he wakes up in the trenches after a long night of being shelled, he finds his ears bloody and his memory gone. All he has left is a torn photograph of a man and woman and a young boy. Could the child be him? Four days later, on December 20, Lucas is dropped off on the train platform of a bombed-out Polish village. Nothing is familiar, though his buddies assure him that this was his home town. All around him he finds death and destruction. He begins searching for his family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)