Category: Recent picks

New Contemporary Fiction for May

New Contemporary fiction includes, in this month’s selection, the most recent novel from the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Moshin Hamid, titled Exit west: a novel, and reconfirms his brilliant writing skill. There are also new novels from Helen Dunmore, and Tim Pears.

Syndetics book coverLarchfield / Polly Clark.
“It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong. As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether. Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once. Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected, rightly, of homosexuality.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBirdcage walk / Helen Dunmore.
“It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war. Diner believes that Lizzie’s independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants. In a tense drama of public and private violence, resistance and terror, Diner’s passion for Lizzie darkens until she finds herself dangerously alone.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExit west : a novel / Mohsin Hamid.
“In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet, sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors, doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. As they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, they struggle to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverErotic stories for Punjabi widows / Balli Kaur Jaswal.
“When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals. Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty, these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe afterlife of stars / Joseph Kertes.
“When Russian tanks roll into the public squares of Budapest to crush the Hungarian Revolution, brothers Robert and Attila Beck flee with their family to the Paris townhouse of their great-aunt Hermina. The year is 1956 and as their country changes forever, these two boys transform as well, confronting danger and wonders previously unknown. As they travel through minefields both real and imagined, Robert and Attila grapple with sibling rivalry, family secrets and incalculable loss. Along the way they encounter mysterious fellow travelers, bewildering sights of a nation in transition and surprising hilarity, all in pursuit of the one place they thought they’d lost forever: home”(Adpated from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA separation / Katie Kitamura.
” A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it’s time for them to separate. For the moment it’s a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, she gets word that Christopher has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece; she reluctantly agrees to go and search for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she’s not even sure if she wants to find him. Adrift in the wild landscape, she traces the disintegration of their relationship, and discovers she understands less than she thought about the man she used to love” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLeopard at the door / Jennifer McVeigh.
“Set in Kenya against the fading backdrop of the British Empire. After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion, a strange, intolerant woman,has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point, and looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites. As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe horseman / Tim Pears.
“Somerset, 1911. The forces of war are building across Europe, but this pocket of England, where the rhythms of lives are dictated by the seasons and the land, remains untouched. Leo, a talented rider and son of the underkeeper to the head groundskeeper, grows up alongside the master’s spirited daughter Charlotte.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverThe woolgrower’s companion / Joy Rhoades.
“Australia 1945. Until now Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on Amiens, her family’s sprawling sheep station in northern New South Wales. The horrors of war have for the most part left her untouched. But with her father succumbing to wounds he’s borne since the Great War, the management of the farm is increasingly falling on Kate’s shoulders. With only the sheep-rearing book The Woolgrower’s Companion to guide her, Kate rises to the challenge. However the arrival of two Italian POW labourers unsettles not only the other workers, but Kate too, especially when she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali. Then she receives devastating news. The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTies / Domenico Starnone ; translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri.
“Ties is the story of a marriage. Like many marriages, this one has been subject to strain, to attrition, to the burden of routine. Yet it has survived intact. Or so things appear. The rupture in Vanda and Aldo’s marriage lies years in the past, but if one looks closely enough, the fissures and fault lines are evident. Their marriage is a cracked vase that may shatter at the slightest touch. Or perhaps it has already shattered, and nobody is willing to acknowledge the fact.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction

This month’s selection of new Contemporary Novels, from our recently received new fiction, illustrates the diversification of theme and plot within the modern novel. Highly recommended is the new novel from Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, titled Exit West.

Syndetics book coverCalling Major Tom / David M. Barnett.
“There’s a star man waiting in the sky. And his name is Thomas. He is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems. But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all, and he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA line made by walking / Sara Baume.
“Struggling to cope with urban life, and with life in general,Frankie, a twenty-something artist, retreats to the rural bungalow on ‘turbine hill’ that has been vacant since her grandmother’s death three years earlier. Finding little comfort in human interaction, Frankie turns her camera lens on the natural world and its reassuring cycle of life and death. What emerges is a profound meditation on the interconnectedness of wilderness, art and individual experience, and a powerful exploration of human frailty” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe heart’s invisible furies / John Boyne.Proxy Error
“Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from, and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHarmless like you / Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.
“Set across New York, Berlin, and Connecticut, following Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront the mother who abandoned him when he was only two years old. The novel opens when Yuki is sixteen and her father is posted back to Japan. Though she and her family have been living as outsiders in New York City, Yuki opts to stay, intoxicated by her friendship with the beautiful aspiring model Odile, the energy of the city, and her desire to become an artist. But when she becomes involved with an older man and the relationship turns destructive, Yuki’s life is unmoored.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dark circle / Linda Grant.
“The Second World War is over, a new decade is beginning but for an East End teenage brother and sister living on the edge of the law, life has been suspended. Sent away to a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kent to learn the way of the patient, they find themselves in the company of army and air force officers, a car salesman, a young university graduate, a mysterious German woman, a member of the aristocracy and an American merchant seaman. They discover that a cure is tantalizingly just out of reach and only by inciting wholesale rebellion can freedom be snatched.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExit west : a novel / Mohsin Hamid.
“In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet, sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors, doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. Exit West follows the couple as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIce / Ulla-Lena Lundberg ; translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal
“In the summer of 1946, a young priest, Petter, his wife and baby daughter, arrive by mail boat at a tiny island. They are to take over its drafty homestead from where Petter is to minister to the scattered community. In this evocative tale, Ulla-Lena Lundberg draws us into the minutiae of an austere yet purposeful life where the demands of self-sufficiency, cows to milk and sheep to graze, are tempered by the kindness of neighbours. With each season, the family’s love of the island grows and when the winter brings ice a new and tentative link is created.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA book of American martyrs / Joyce Carol Oates.
“When evangelical Luther Dunphy assassinates abortion doctor Augustus Voorhees, the two grieving families find their lives intricately linked.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLillian Boxfish takes a walk / Kathleen Rooney.
Lillian Boxfish took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed and has not.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSolitaire / Jane Thynne.
“June 1940: the first summer of the war. Berlin is being bombed and nightly blackouts suffocate the city. Then France falls and a shadow descends. A shadow has fallen over Clara Vine’s own life, too. She is an Anglo-German woman in a country that hates England. Virulent anti-British propaganda is everywhere. Then she is summoned to meet the Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels who has decided that Clara should adopt a new role, as his spy and that she must go to Paris on a mission. Much as she dislikes the idea, Clara realises this might be the chance to find an escape route to England. But Goebbels has other ideas and soon Clara is drawn into a web that threatens to destroy her. As everything she holds dear is taken as ransom, she must fight to protect her family and to survive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction

There are four award winning authors included in this month’s selection of new Contemporary Novels. These are Paul Auster, Sebastian Barry, Bernard Schlink, and George Saunders, an award winning short story writer with his first novel, titled Lincoln in the bardo.

Syndetics book cover4 3 2 1 : a novel / Paul Auster.
“On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson’s story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDays without end : a novel / Sebastian Barry.
“Thomas McNulty, barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine, signs up for the U.S. Army in the 1850s. With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas fights in the Indian Wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe book of mirrors / E.O. Chirovici.
“Princeton, 1987 : renowned psychologist Professor Joseph Weider is brutally murdered . New York, twenty-five years later : literary agent Peter Katz receives a manuscript. Or is it a confession ?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWar and turpentine : a novel / Stefan Hertmans ; translated from the Dutch by David McKay.
“The life of Urbain Martien–artist, soldier, survivor of World War I, lies contained in two notebooks he left behind when he died in 1981. His grandson, a writer, retells his story, the notebooks giving him the impetus to imagine his way into the locked chambers of Urbain’s memory.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Nowhere man / Gregg Hurwitz.
“He was once called Orphan X. As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children’s home, raised and trained as part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it still exists. But he broke with the program, choosing instead to vanish off grid and use his formidable skill set to help those unable to protect themselves. One day, though, Evan’s luck ran out. Ambushed, drugged, and spirited away, Evan wakes up in a locked room with no idea where he is or who has captured him. As he tries to piece together what’s happened, testing his gilded prison and its highly trained guards for weaknesses, he receives a desperate call for help.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDear Mr M / Herman Koch.
“Mr M is being watched. As a famous writer, he is no stranger to the limelight, although interest in his work has been dwindling of late. His print runs are smaller than they used to be, and so are the crowds at his bookshop signings. But there is someone still interested in Mr M and keeping an extremely close eye on him, someone whose own story bears more than a passing resemblance to the plot of Mr M’s bestselling thriller, in which a teacher has an affair with a student, only to be brutally murdered by the girl and her teenage boyfriend. In Mr M’s book, the body is never found, but in real life, bodies have an awkward habit of turning up.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBehind her eyes / Sarah Pinborough.
“Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But when she meets David Young, successful and charming, Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife Adele, beautiful, elegant and sweet, Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her. But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks. Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears? Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLincoln in the bardo : a novel / George Saunders.
“February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.
Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe woman on the stairs / Bernhard Schlink ; translated from the German by Joyce Hackett and Bradley Schmidt. 
“For decades the painting was believed to be lost. But, just as mysteriously as it disappeared, it reappears, an anonymous donation to a gallery in Sydney. The art world is stunned, so are the three men who loved the woman in the painting, the woman on the stairs. One by one they track her down to an isolated cottage in Australia. Here they must try to untangle the lies and betrayals of their shared past, but time is running out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCity of friends / Joanna Trollope.
“The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of the only life she’d ever known. For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London? As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new, one of long days at home with her dog and ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to come home she at least has The Girls to fall back on. The girls, now women, had been best friends from the early days of university right through their working lives, and for all the happiness and heartbreaks in between. But these career women all have personal problems of their own, and when Stacey’s redundancy forces a betrayal to emerge that was supposed to remain secret, their long cherished friendships will be pushed to their limits.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for February

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.

Syndetics book coverGeneral 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverTo 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverFinisterre / 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverCove / 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)

Syndetics book coverMister 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)

Syndetics book coverDating 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

New Contemporary Fiction for January

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.

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverInch 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverBright, 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverIdaho : 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)

Syndetics book coverSwing 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)

Syndetics book coverWinter 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)

New Contemporary Fiction for December

In this selection of new Contemporary Fiction we have included new work from several celebrated authors: the Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon, award winning Margaret Drabble, ever popular Diana Gabaldon, and the much praised debut novelist Francis Spufford. The latest novel from Alison Moore, titled Death and the seaside, comes highly recommend for readers who enjoy a darker type of fiction.

Syndetics book coverThe hanging tree / Ben Aaronovitch.
“Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of PC Peter Grant or the Folly, even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But Lady Ty’s daughter was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favour. Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the house and dangerous, arcane items are bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about. He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect. Assuming he survives the week.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMoonglow / Michael Chabon.
Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and desire and ordinary love, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact and the creative power of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe spy : a novel / Paulo Coelho ; translated from the Portuguese by Zoë Perry.
“When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city. As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men. But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfter disasters / Viet Dinh.
“Told through the eyes of four people in the wake of a life-shattering earthquake in India, this is an intricate story of love and loss weaving together the emotional and intimate narratives of Ted, a pharmaceutical salesman turned member of the Disaster Assistance Response Team; his colleague Piotr, who still carries with him the scars of the Bosnia conflict; Andy, a young firefighter eager to prove his worth; and Dev, a doctor on the ground racing against time and dwindling resources. Through time and place, hope and tragedy, love and lust, these four men put their lives at risk in a country where danger lurks everywhere.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dark flood rises / Margaret Drabble.
“Fran may be old but she’s not going without a fight. So she dyes her hair, enjoys every glass of red wine, drives around the country for her job with a housing charity and lives in an insalubrious tower block that her loved ones disapprove of. And as each of them, her pampered ex Claude, old friend Jo, flamboyant son Christopher and earnest daughter Poppet, seeks happiness in their own way, what will the last reckoning be? Will they be waving or drowning when the end comes?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe whole town’s talking : a novel / Fannie Flagg.
“Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking. This is an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVirgins / Diana Gabaldon.
“Young Jamie Fraser has left Scotland and, with his best friend Ian Murray, is running with a band of mercenaries in France. Both men have good reason not to go back to their homeland: both are nursing wounds, and despite their best efforts to remedy the situation, both are still virgins. So when a Jewish doctor hires them to escort his granddaughter to Paris, they readily agree. Both men are instantly drawn to the beautiful young lady. What neither know is that their lives and their friendships are about to become infinitely more complicated and a lot more dangerous.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeath and the seaside / Alison Moore.
“With an abandoned degree behind her and a thirtieth birthday approaching, amateur writer Bonnie Falls moves out of her parent’s home into a nearby flat. Her landlady, Sylvia Slythe, takes an interest in Bonnie, encouraging her to finish one of her stories, in which a young woman moves to the seaside, where she comes under strange influences. As summer approaches, Sylvia suggests to Bonnie that, as neither of them has anyone else to go on holiday with, they should go away together to the seaside, perhaps.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEcholand / Per Petterson ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“12-year-old Arvid and his family are on holiday, staying with his grandparents in Denmark. Arvid is confused by the underlying tension between his mother and grandmother, and is grappling with his own sense of self: he’s on the cusp of becoming a teenager, feeling awkward in his own skin, and is unsure of his emotions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGolden Hill / Francis Spufford.
“New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, 1746.One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat pitches up at a counting-house door in Golden Hill Street: this is Mr Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion simmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge amount, and he won’t explain why, or where he comes from, or what he can be planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money. Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction

There are many widely acclaimed and award winning authors in this month’s selection of New Contemporary Fiction. These include Robert Olen Butler, James Kelman, Elimear McBride and Ali Smith. Combined with other outstanding writers, this selection will provide many hours of reading enjoyment.

Syndetics book coverPerfume River : a novel / Robert Olen Butler.
“In 1967, Robert Quinlan enlists, hoping to secure a noncombatant role in Vietnam, while his younger brother, Jimmy, cuts family ties after his father violently rebukes his antiwar stance. While dining out in Tallahassee, Fla., 47 years later, Robert-now 70 and a university professor-meets a mentally ill homeless man, also named Bob, whom he takes for a Vietnam veteran. He is wrong, but the encounter reawakens memories of the Tet Offensive, when a split-second decision burdened Robert with secrets and guilt. The day after the encounter, Robert’s father, William, shatters his hip, and Jimmy, a resident of Canada since his flight to avoid the draft, is told of William’s uncertain prognosis. As the brothers and those around them face the possibility of a reunion, they look at their relationships anew; meanwhile, an increasingly delusional Bob crosses paths with the family again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy name is Leon / Kit De Waal
“Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. Their mum isn’t feeling herself, so they’ve gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers, since Jake is white and Leon is not.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSiracusa / Delia Ephron.Siracusa
“Two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from each other are exposed and relationships are unravelled. New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine,-Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConclave : a novel / Robert Harris.
“The Pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverDirt road / James Kelman.
“Murdo, a teenager obsessed with music, dreams of a life beyond his Scottish island home. His dad Tom has recently lost his wife and stumbles towards the future, terrified of losing control of what remains of his family life. Both are in search of something as they set out on an expedition into the American South. As they travel they encounter a new world and we discover whether the hopes of youth can conquer the fears of age.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lesser bohemians / Eimear McBride.The Lesser Bohemians
“An Irish girl, just moved to London for theater school in the mid-1990s, meets a charming stranger, a well regarded actor and much older than her. The tumultuous relationship that ensues risks undoing them both.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tidal zone / Sarah Moss.
“Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter’s school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonizing, not knowing. The story of his life and the lives of his family are rewritten and re-told around this shocking central event, around a body that has inexplicably failed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverAutumn : a novel / Ali Smith.
“This is the first installment in a quartet. Seasonal, comprised of four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as are the seasons), explores what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDo not say we have nothing : a novel / Madeleine Thien.
“In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-Ming. As her relationship with Marie deepens, Ai-Ming tells the story of her family in revolutionary China, from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989. It is a history of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians, the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai struggle during China’s relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYesternight / Cat Winters.
“In 1925, child psychologist Alice Lind travels to the stormy coast of Oregon to test the learning abilities of the local children. Michael O’Daire picks her up at the station and offers her a place to stay while she’s in town. He hopes that Alice can help his seven-year-old daughter, Janie, who believes she lived a past life. As Alice learns more of Janie’s story and gathers evidence that the girl might really be experiencing something beyond scientific explanation, she is also drawn into the lives of the child’s parents, particularly the dangerously handsome Michael.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for October

The selections for this month’s new contemporary fiction are all written by prize winning, internationally acclaimed writers, therefore all come highly recommended for amazing reading experiences. Included in this selection is the Australian debut novelist, and winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award for 2016 A. S. Patric for his novel titled Black Rock, white city. A truly stunning novel.

Syndetics book coverHag-seed : The tempest retold / Margaret Atwood.
“It’s got a thunderstorm in it. And revenge. Definitely revenge Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda, and also brewing revenge. After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSelection Day / Aravind Adiga.
“Manju is fourteen. He knows he is good at cricket, if not as good as his elder brother Radha. He knows that he hates his domineering and cricket-obsessed father, admires his brilliantly talented brother and is fascinated by CSI and curious and interesting scientific facts. But there are many things, about himself and about the world, that he doesn’t know. Everyone around him, it seems, has a clear idea of who Manju should be, except Manju himself. But when Manju begins to get to know Radha’s great rival, a boy as privileged and confident as Manju is not, everything in Manju’a world begins to change and he is faced by decisions that will challenge both his sense of self and of the world around him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe schooldays of Jesus / by J. M. Coetzee.
“David is the small boy who is always asking questions. Simon and Ines take care of him in their new country. He is learning the language; he has begun to make friends. He has the big dog Bolivar to watch over him. But he’ll be seven soon and he should be at school. So David is enrolled in the Academy of Dance in Estrella. It’s here, in his new golden dancing slippers, that he learns how to call down the numbers from the sky. But it’s here too that he will make troubling discoveries about what grown-ups are capable of.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wonder : a novel / Emma Donoghue.
“Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl and soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHot milk : a novel / Deborah Levy.
“Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant, their very last chance, in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia’s mother’s illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sophia’s role as detective, tracking her mother’s symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain, deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNutshell / Ian McEwan.
“Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home, a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse, but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCommonwealth / Ann Patchett.
“One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly, thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack rock white city / A. S. Patrić.
“During a hot Melbourne summer Jovan’s cleaning work at a bayside hospital is disrupted by acts of graffiti and violence becoming increasingly malevolent. For Jovan the mysterious words that must be cleaned away dislodge the poetry of the past. He and his wife Suzana were forced to flee Sarajevo and the death of their children. This is an essential story of Australia’s suburbs now, of displacement and immediate threat, and the unexpected responses of two refugees as they try to reclaim their dreams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnother Brooklyn : a novel / Jacqueline Woodson.
“Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything, until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant, part of a future that belonged to them.But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverResolution / A. N. Wilson.
“This powerful novel explores the life and times of one of the greatest British explorers, Captain Cook, and the golden age of Britain’s period of expansion and exploration. Witness to Cook’s brilliance and wisdom, is George Forster, who travelled with Cook as botanist on board the HMS Resolution, on Cook’s second expedition to the southern hemisphere, and penned a famous account of the journey. The novel moves back and forth across time, to depict Forster’s time with Cook, and his extraordinary later life, which ended with his death in Paris, during the French Revolution.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction

Contemporary fiction covers a wide range of different themes and subjects, not only young up-coming writers, but also some well-established acclaimed writers. This month’s selection from our new material is no exception, with psychological thrillers, satire and humour, romantic suspense and historical novels all represented, by authors as well-known as Dave Eggers to young authors such as Eowyn Ivey with her highly praised second novel. All will prove a delight for avid fiction readers.

Syndetics book coverThe last photograph / Emma Chapman.
“Rook Henderson is an award-winning photojournalist, still carrying the hidden scars of war. Now, suddenly, he is also a widower. Leaving his son Ralph to pick up the pieces, Rook packs his belongings and flies to Vietnam for the first time in fifty years. As Rook reconnects with the changed landscape of a place he once knew so well, he reflects upon a life defined through his work in wartime Vietnam, and then further back in time through rural life in the 1970s, fashionable London in the 1960s, a post-war working class childhood in a Yorkshire mining town, and a secret grief he’s never been able to forget. When Ralph follows him to Vietnam, seeking answers from the father he barely knows, Rook is forced to reconsider his marriage to the unforgettable June and the price he has paid for a life behind the lens.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHeroes of the frontier : a novel / Dave Eggers.
“Josie and her children’s father have split up, she’s been sued by a former patient and lost her dental practice, and she’s grieving the death of a young man senselessly killed. When her ex asks to take the children to meet his new fiancée’s family, Josie makes a run for it, figuring Alaska is about as far as she can get without a passport. Josie and her kids, Paul and Ana, rent a rattling old RV named the Chateau, and at first their trip feels like a vacation. But as they drive, pushed north by the ubiquitous wildfires, Josie is chased by enemies both real and imagined, past mistakes pursuing her tiny family, even to the very edge of civilization.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBelgravia / Julian Fellowes.
“On the evening of 15 June 1815, the great and the good of British Society have gathered in Brussels at what is to become one of the most tragic parties in history, the Duchess of Richmond’s ball. For this is the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, and many of the handsome young men attending the ball will find themselves, the very next day, on the battlefield. For Sophia Trenchard, the young and beautiful daughter of Wellington’s chief supplier, this night will change everything. But it is only twenty-five years later, when the upwardly mobile Trenchards move into the fashionable new area of Belgravia, that the true repercussions of that moment will be felt.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the bright edge of the world / Eowyn Ivey.
“Authorized to lead an 1885 winter exploratory expedition up the Wolverine River into the Alaska interior, Lt. Col. Allen Forrester leaves his wife of a few short months to travel more than 1,000 miles over the most hostile terrain imaginable. Woefully unprepared for the climate, scarcity of food, and potentially hazardous exchanges with the native inhabitants, he and his men find a land that is as deadly as it is mysterious and beautiful. Meanwhile, bride Sophie faces a difficult pregnancy alone in Vancouver, WA. The entire novel consists of the correspondence between the couple-neither of them knowing if those letters will even reach the other. Interspersed are other letters between an exhibitor in Alaska and Allen’s great nephew who wants the Forresters’ story to be curated and preserved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe invoice : a novel / Jonas Karlsson ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“A passionate film buff, whose life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm. When he receives an astronomical invoice from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything will tumble into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country. What is the price of a cherished memory? How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day? How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArrowood : a novel / by Laura McHugh.
“Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago, never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. Now Arden’s own life has fallen apart. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat we become : a novel / Arturo Pérez-Reverte ; translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza García.
“En route from Lisbon to Buenos Aires in 1928, Max and Mecha meet aboard a luxurious transatlantic cruise ship. There Max teaches the stunning stranger and her erudite husband to dance the tango. A steamy affair ignites at sea and continues as the seedy decadence of Buenos Aires envelops the secret lovers. Nice, 1937. Still drawn to one another a decade later, Max and Mecha rekindle their dalliance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy did you lie? / Yrsa Sigurdardóttir ; translated from the icelandic by Victoria Cribb.
“A journalist on the track of an old case attempts suicide. An ordinary couple returns from a house swap in the states to find their home in disarray and their guests seemingly missing. Four strangers struggle to find shelter on a windswept spike of rock in the middle of a raging sea. They have one thing in common: they all lied. And someone is determined to punish them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParadise Lodge : a novel / Nina Stibbe.
“Fifteen-year-old Lizzie Vogel takes a job as an “auxiliary nurse” at Paradise Lodge, a home for the elderly, and learns that her job entails helping the patients (frequently) to the bathroom. What begins as a way to avoid school and earn some spending money (for the finer things in life, like real coffee and beer shampoo) quickly becomes the education of a lifetime as Lizzy wades through the day-to-day humdrum and drama of this ramshackle refuge for the elderly. And when a rival nursing home threatens, Lizzie discovers that the staff and residents of Paradise Lodge have become her surrogate family, and the only place she’s ever felt she belongs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe underground railroad : a novel / Colson Whitehead.
“Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood, where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Novels for September

The selection of New Contemporary Fiction this month covers a wide range of genres, from historical fiction to humour, psychological thrillers to suspense and translated to futuristic novels. Highly recommended is Lionel Shriver’s humorous, futuristic novel titled, The Mandibles: a family, 2029-2047.

Syndetics book coverThe crime writer / Jill Dawson
“In 1964, the eccentric American novelist Patricia Highsmith is hiding out in a cottage in Suffolk, to concentrate on her writing and escape her fans. She has another motive too, a secret romance with a married lover based in London. Unfortunately it soon becomes clear that all her demons have come with her. Prowlers, sexual obsessives, frauds, imposters, suicides and murderers: the tropes of her fictions clamor for her attention, rudely intruding on her peaceful Suffolk retreat. After the arrival of Ginny, an enigmatic young journalist bent on interviewing her, events take a catastrophic turn, except, as always in Highsmith’s troubled life, matters are not quite as they first appear.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack water / Louise Doughty.
“John Harper lies awake at night in an isolated hut on an Indonesian island, listening to the rain on the roof and believing his life may be in danger. But he is less afraid of what is going to happen than of something he’s already done. In a local town, he meets Rita, a woman with her own troubled history. They begin an affair, but can he allow himself to get involved when he knows this might put her at risk? Moving between Europe during the cold war, California and the Civil Rights struggle, and Indonesia during the massacres of 1965 and the decades of military dictatorship that follow, Black Water is an epic novel that explores some of the darkest events of recent world history through the story of one troubled man.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverField service / Robert Edric.
“Morlancourt, Northern France, 1920.In the aftermath of the world’s bloodiest conflict, a small contingent of battle-worn soldiers remains in France. Captain James Reid and his men are tasked with the identification and burial of innumerable corpses as they come to terms with the events of the past four years. The stark contrast between the realities of burying men in France and the reports of honouring the dead back in Britain is all too clear. But it is only when the daily routine is interrupted by a visit from two women, both seeking solace from their grief, that the men are forced to acknowledge the part they too have played.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHitman Anders and the meaning of it all / Jonas Jonasson ; translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.
“It’s always awkward when five thousand kronor goes missing. When it happens at a certain grotty hotel in south Stockholm, it’s particularly awkward because the money belongs to the hitman currently staying in room seven. Per Persson, the hotel receptionist just wants to mind his own business, and preferably not get murdered. Johanna Kjellander, temporarily resident in room eight, is a priest without a vocation, and, as of last week, without a parish. But right now she has two things at her disposal: an envelope containing five thousand kronor, and an excellent idea.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSerious sweet / A.L. Kennedy.
“A good man in a bad world, Jon Sigurdsson is 59 and divorced: a senior civil servant in Westminster who hates many of his colleagues and loathes his work for a government engaged in unmentionable acts, a man of conscience. Meg Williams is a bankrupt accountant, two words you don’t want in the same sentence, or anywhere near a CV. She is 45 and shakily sober, living on Telegraph Hill, where she can see London unfurl below her. Somewhere out there is safety. Somewhere out there is Jon, pin balling around the city with a mobile phone and a letter-writing habit he cannot break. He is a man on the brink, leaking government secrets and affection as he runs for his life. Jon and Meg navigate the sweet and serious heart of London, passing through 24 hours that will change them both forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe portable Veblen / Elizabeth McKenzie.
“A riotously funny and deeply insightful adventure through capitalism, the medical industry, family, love, war and wedding-planning. Will a young couple, newly engaged, make it to their wedding day? Will their dysfunctional families ruin everything? Will they be undone by the advances of a very sexy, very unscrupulous heiress to a pharmaceuticals corporation? Is getting married even a remotely reasonable idea in the twenty-first century? And what in the world is a Veblen anyway?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Mandibles : a family, 2029 – 2047 / Lionel Shriver.
“In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the “almighty dollar” plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the “bancor.” In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. “Deadbeat Nation” being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remaining savings are been rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation .The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also, as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction, the challenge of sheer survival.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll that man is / David Szalay.
“Nine men, each of them at a different stage of life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving, in the suburbs of Prague, beside a Belgian motorway, in a cheap Cypriot hotel, to understand just what it means to be alive, here and now. Tracing an arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, All That Man Is brings these separate lives together to show us men as they are, ludicrous and inarticulate, shocking and despicable; vital, pitiable, hilarious, and full of heartfelt longing. And as the years chase them down, the stakes become bewilderingly high in this piercing portrayal of 21st-century manhood.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe woman in cabin 10 / Ruth Ware.
“This was meant to be the perfect trip. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship, a chance for travel journalist Lo Blacklock to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship, except things don’t go as planned. Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat. Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that she may have made a terrible mistake. Or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer and she is the sole witness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix four / Hideo Yokoyama ; translated from the Japanese by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies.
“For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again. For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police’s apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as ‘Six Four’. They would never forgive the authorities their failure. For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case. He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)


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