Some of the best well known writers have been selected in this month’s new Contemporary fiction. All provide great reading and no doubt many readers will be wishing to receive one, if not more of these titles for Christmas. If come Christmas and disappointment, then reserving titles desired is just a few clicks away.
Amnesia / Peter Carey.
“Young Australian Gabrielle Baillieux, releases a virus called the Angel Worm in the computer system that controls the Australian prison system, releasing thousands of prisoners throughout Australia and, inadvertently, in the U.S. The move could be construed as an act of terrorism, a bold stroke in the fight for human rights, or just a geeky plan gone awry. Journalist Felix Moore is hired to write Gabrielle’s story sympathetically, to avoid her extradition. In the process, he spends time with her mother, the actress Celine Baillieux, whom he had previously known in college. Looking back through the two women’s lives, Felix also explores Australia’s history since WWII, confusing himself but also educating readers about the Land Down Under.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Time and time again / by Ben Elton.
“It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be. Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming, a collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history. Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war, a war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century? And, if so, could another single bullet save it?” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
Funny girl / Nick Hornby.
“It’s the swinging 60s and the nation is mesmerized by unlikely comedy star Sophie Straw, the former Blackpool beauty queen who just wants to make people laugh, like her heroine Lucille Ball. Behind the scenes, the cast and crew are having the time of their lives. But when the script begins to get a bit too close to home, and life starts imitating art, they all face a choice. The writers, Tony and Bill, comedy obsessives, each harbour a secret. The Oxbridge-educated director, Dennis, loves his job but hates his marriage. The male star Clive, feels he’s destined for better things. And Sophie Straw, who’s changed her name and abandoned her old life, must decide whether to keep going, or change the channel.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
A map of betrayal / Ha Jin.
“In the present, Lilian Shang, a pragmatic Maryland history professor, knows that her late father, Gary, was the biggest Chinese spy ever caught in North America, but she had no idea how much he suffered until his mistress gives her his diaries. When she travels to China on a Fulbright, she eludes the authorities to meet her newly discovered half-sister and niece, then returns home and encounters her enigmatic nephew. The story returns to Gary as a college graduate fluent in English, recruited by the Communists in 1949 and sent to Washington, D.C., where he dutifully and anxiously works his way up the ranks at the CIA. Perpetually homesick and tormented by his dangerous double life, he clings to the belief that his drastic sacrifices are benefiting his parents and lovely wife, whom he pines for even as he forms an American family. As Gary’s brooding, many-layered story of delusion and betrayal unfolds.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The ghost in the electric blue suit : a novel / Graham Joyce.
“David, a college student, takes a summer job at a run-down family resort in a dying English resort town. This is against the wishes of his family because it was at this resort where David’s biological father disappeared fifteen years earlier. But something undeniable has called David there. David is haunted by eerie visions of a mysterious man carrying a rope, walking hand-in-hand with a small child, and the resort is under siege by a plague of ladybugs. Something different is happening in this town. When David gets embroiled in a fiercely torrid love triangle, the stakes turn more and more menacing. And through it all, David feels as though he is getting closer to the secrets of his own past.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Revival : a novel / Stephen King.
“The story of Jamie Morton and Reverend Charles Jacobs, whose lives wretchedly intertwine for 50 years. Jamie is six when he meets the wholesome preacher whose hobby, electronics, makes him a hit with the Methodist youth. A tragic accident leads to Jacobs’ loss of faith readers will also be scarred but only increases his devotion to electrical experimentation: one of God’s doorways to the infinite. Jamie grows up to be a drug-addicted rhythm guitarist, but a reunion at Jacobs’ electricity-based carnival act proves the curative potential of secret electricity despite unsettling side effects.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Emma / Alexander McCall Smith.
“The summer after university, Emma Woodhouse returns home to the village of Highbury, where she will live with her health-conscious father until she is ready to launch her interior-design business and strike out on her own. In the meantime, she will do what she does best: offer guidance to those less wise in the ways of the world than herself. Happily, this summer brings many new faces to Highbury and into the sphere of Emma’s not always perfectly felicitous council: Harriet Smith, a naive teacher’s assistant at the ESL school run by the hippie-ish Mrs. Goddard; Frank Churchill, the attractive stepson of Emma’s former governess; and, of course, the perfect Jane Fairfax.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
I refuse / Per Petterson ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“Two men meet by accident on a bridge early one morning. Once they were best friends but Tommy and Jim haven’t seen each other for 35 years. Back then, Tommy and his sister were abandoned by their mother and later by their abusive father, and Jim, who lived alone with his religious mother, went to high school and became a socialist. Then one winter, Jim started to doubt whether he was deserving of the friendship. Now Jim is standing on the bridge, fishing, when Tommy drives by in his expensive new Mercedes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).
The crack / Christopher Radmann.
“January1, 1976, several months before the Soweto Uprising. Pregnant housewife Janet Snyman lives in a suburb of Johannesburg with her policeman husband, Hektor-Jan, and their three young children. Hektor-Jan works as a police interrogator, barbarically torturing arrested black “terrorists.” The police are determined to find and confiscate hidden arms caches belonging to anti-apartheid groups in order to preserve the status quo. Janet oversees the activities of the couple’s black live-in housemaid Alice and gardener Solomon. She’s disconcerted to discover a crack at the bottom of the family swimming pool but decides not to tell Hektor-Jan about the problem, waiting until it gets much worse and then asking Solomon to repair it. When Doug van Deventer, the Snymans’ creepy next-door neighbor, who is a voyeur and gossip, sees Janet directing Solomon’s work, he mistakenly assumes that they’re having an affair-a mistake that has bloody consequences. This is a scathing literary condemnation of apartheid and its dehumanizing effects.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Nora Webster / Colm Tóibín.Nora Webster
“Fortysomething Nora Webster, left by the early death of her beloved Maurice with four children and scarcely enough money to cover the family expenses. Nora, as witnessed by not only her offspring but also her sisters, her other relatives, and many neighbors both supportive and trying, must step out of the rather cocoon-like world she and her husband had created for themselves in the small city of Wexford. The problem for her was that she was on her own now and that she had no idea how to live.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)