Seaward Stories: New Fiction

The ocean looms large in this month’s new general fiction selection. Lemuel Gulliver seemingly lost at sea in Gulliver’s Wife; Captain Cook’s Endevour wrecked on a coral reef in On a Barbarous Coast; wisdom from octopuses in The Octopus and I; a deadly sea crossing in We are Made of Earth.

Also this month: the French literary sensation All About Sarah by Pauline Delabroy-Allard and Love by Roddy Doyle. Love has been compared to James Joyce’s Dubliners, and has received great reviews from the New York Times, Boston Globe and more. Enjoy!

Gulliver’s Wife / Chater, Lauren
“London, 1702. When her husband is lost at sea, Mary Burton Gulliver is forced to rebuild her life without him. But three years later when Lemuel Gulliver is brought home, fevered and communicating only in riddles, her ordered world is turned upside down. In a climate of suspicion, Mary is caught in a crossfire of superstition and fear driven by her husband’s outlandish claims of the wonders he has seen, and it is up to her to navigate a passage to safety for herself, her daughter and the vulnerable women in her care.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

On a Barbarous Coast / Cormick, Craig and Ludwick, Harold
“On a night of raging winds and rain, Captain Cook’s Endeavour lies splintered on a coral reef off the coast of far north Australia. A disparate band of survivors huddle on the shore. Watching these mysterious white beings, the Guugu Yimidhirr people cannot decide if they are ancestor spirits to be welcomed–or hostile spirits to be speared. One headstrong young boy, Garrgiil, determines to find out what exactly they are. On a Barbarous Coast is the story of a past and future that might have been.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All About Sarah / Delabroy-Allard, Pauline
“A thirty-something teacher drifts through her life in Paris, lonely in spite of a new boyfriend. And then one night at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party, Sarah enters the scene like a tornado–a talented young violinist, she is loud, vivacious, appealingly unkempt. Thus begins an intense relationship, tender and violent, that will upend both women’s lives. Delabroy-Allard perfectly captures the pull of a desire so strong that it blinds us to everything else.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Love / Doyle, Roddy
“One summer’s evening, two men meet up in a Dublin restaurant. Old friends, now married and with grown-up children, their lives have taken seemingly similar paths. But Joe has a secret he has to tell Davy, and Davy, a grief he wants to keep from Joe. Both are not the men they used to be. Neither Davy nor Joe know what the night has in store, but as two pints turns to three, then five, and the men set out to revisit the haunts of their youth, the ghosts of Dublin entwine around them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rest and be thankful / Glass, Emma
“Laura is a nurse in a pediatric unit. On long, quiet shifts, she and her colleagues care for sick babies, handling their exquisitely fragile bodies, calibrating the machines that keep them alive. Laura may be burnt out. Her hands have been raw from washing as long as she can remember. When she sleeps, she dreams of water; when she wakes, she finds herself lying next to a man who doesn’t love her any more. And there is a strange figure dancing in the corner of her vision, always just beyond her reach.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Eighth Life (for Brilka) / Haratischwili, Nino
“On the edge of the Russian empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the center of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Octopus and I / Hortle, Erin
“Lucy and Jem live on the Tasman Peninsula, where Lucy is recovering from surgery. As she tries to navigate her new body, she develops a deep fascination with the local octopuses, and in doing so finds herself drawn towards the friendship of an old woman and her son. As the story unfolds, the octopuses come to shape Lucy’s body and her sense of self in ways even she can’t quite understand. The Octopus and I is a stunning debut novel that explores the wild, beating heart at the intersection of human and animal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Little Gods: a Novel / Jin, Meng
“Liya, who grew up in America, takes her mother Su Lan’s ashes to China. In a territory inhabited by the ghosts of the living and the dead, Liya’s memories are joined by those of two others: Zhu Wen, the woman last to know Liya’s mother before she left China, and Yongzong, the father Liya has never known. In this way a portrait of Su Lan emerges: an ambitious scientist, an ambivalent mother, and a woman whose relationship to her own past shapes and unmakes Liya’s own sense of displacement.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We are Made of Earth / Karnezis, Panos
“When an overcrowded dinghy capsizes at sea, a doctor is among those refugees thrown overboard. The doctor and a boy he has saved eventually reach a tiny Greek island where they are offered shelter by the owner of a travelling circus. Debt-ridden, the circus owner knows that his most valuable asset is an Asian elephant, lovingly tended by the owner’s wife even as she mourns their 10-year old daughter. The doctor is drawn to his host’s wife, all the while keeping his young companion at arm’s length.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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