You will find the most exciting new fiction in this month’s selection of new Contemporary Fiction. From women hermits, to dating, missing persons to World War II espionage, acting to sea kayaking, there is an amazing variety of great reading for all fiction enthusiasts.
General theory of oblivion / José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.
“On the eve of Angolan independence, Ludo bricks herself into her apartment, where she will remain for the next thirty years. She lives off vegetables and pigeons, burns her furniture and books to stay alive and keeps herself busy by writing her story on the walls of her home. The outside world slowly seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of a man fleeing his pursuers and a note attached to a bird’s foot. Until one day she meets Sabalu, a young boy from the street who climbs up to her terrace.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The other Einstein : a novel / Marie Benedict.
“This is the story of Einstein’s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight. Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. When fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
To the sea / Christine Dibley.
“On a clear summer’s day, Detective Inspector Tony Vincent answers a call-out to an idyllic Tasmanian beach house. Surrounded by family and calm waters, seventeen-year-old Zoe Kennett has inexplicably vanished .Four storytellers share their version of what has led to this moment, weaving tales which span centuries and continents. But Tony needs facts, not fiction: how will such fables lead him to Zoe and to the truth? As Tony’s investigation deepens, he is drawn into a world where myth and history blur, and where women who risk all for love must pay the price through every generation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The river at night / Erica Ferencik.
“Winifred Allen needs a vacation. Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings. What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Finisterre / Graham Hurley.
“Germany, October 1944: Dozens of cities lie in ruins. Enemy armies are at the gates. For the Thousand Year Reich, time is running out. Desperate to avoid the humiliation of unconditional surrender, German intelligence launch Operation Finisterre, a last-ditch plan to enable Hitler to deny the savage logic of a war on two fronts and bluff his way to the negotiating table. Success depends on two individuals: Stefan Portisch, a German naval officer washed ashore on the coast of Spain after the loss of his U-boat, and Hector Gomez, an ex-FBI detective, planted by Director J. Edgar Hoover in the middle of the most secret place on earth: the American atomic bomb complex. Both men will find themselves fighting for survival as Operation Finisterre plays itself out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The unseen / Roy Jacobsen ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.
“Ingrid Barroy is born on an island that bears her name, a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams. Her father dreams of building a quay that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams, more children, a smaller island, a different life, and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her. When Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast. But Norway too is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Cove / Cynan Jones.
“Out at sea, in a sudden storm, a man is struck by lightning. When he wakes, injured and adrift on a kayak, his memory of who he is and how he came to be there is all but shattered. Now he must pit himself against the pain and rely on his instincts to get back to shore, and to the woman he dimly senses waiting for his return.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Mister Monkey : a novel / Francine Prose.
“Mister Monkey, a screwball children’s musical about a playfully larcenous pet chimpanzee, is the kind of family favorite that survives far past its prime. Margot, who plays the chimp’s lawyer, knows the production is dreadful and bemoans the failure of her acting career. She’s settled into the drudgery of playing a humiliating part, until the day she receives a mysterious letter from an anonymous admirer, and later, in the middle of a performance, has a shocking encounter with Adam, the twelve-year-old who plays the title role. This effervescent comedy is told from the viewpoints of wildly unreliable, seemingly disparate characters whose lives become deeply connected as the madcap narrative unfolds.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Dating tips for the unemployed / Iris Smyles.
“Iris Smyles’s Dating Tips for the Unemployed is an urban odyssey, a wistful, wise, and wry look back at a young woman trying to find her home in the world. “Iris,” the narrator and heroine, guides the reader through twenty-four episodes from her life, pausing now and then for meditations on love, sex, work, loneliness, insomnia, arctic exploration, cannibalism, the Higgs boson, Greek mythology, memory, costumes parties, time travel, Rocky I, II, V, IV, VI, and III respectively, literary immortality, real estate trends, and growing up and growing old.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The Wednesday club / Kjell Westö ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“1938. Hitler’s expansionist policies are arousing both anger and admiration, not least in Helsinki’s Wednesday Club. The members of this relaxed gentleman’s club are old friends of lawyer Claes Thune. Thune has recently divorced and is at something of a loss, running his law practice with no great enthusiasm. Luckily he has the assistance of an efficient new secretary, Matilda Wiik. But behind her polished exterior Mrs Wiik is tormented by memories of the Finnish Civil War, when she experienced horrors she has been trying to forget ever since. One evening, with the Wednesday Club gathered in Thune’s office, she hears a voice she hoped she would never hear again and she is suddenly plunged back into the past. But this time she is no longer a helpless victim.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)