Books to Know – TOP 10 LIST – November 2012


1.  Reading Lolita in Tehran

by Azar Nafisi, 2003 (See review)

2.  Woes of the True Policeman

by Roberto Bolaño, Nov 13, 2012
Allegedly the last novel from posthumous author Roberto Bolaño, the English translation of Woes of the True Policeman will be released on November 13. Óscar Amalfitano is an exiled Chilean professor who moves to Mexico and encounters a characteristic slew of murders and corruption. The novel, although unfinished, builds on themes, characters, and places from Bolaño’s previous work.

3.  The Round House

by Louise Erdrich, 2012
Louise Erdrich returns to the Native American reservation of previous work in this thought-provoking novel for adults. In 1988, thirteen-year-old Joe enjoys watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with friends from his Ojibwe tribe. But when his mother is raped on disputed territory and it’s not clear if the perpetrator can be prosecuted, Joe enters a world where some people are treated differently than others and justice doesn’t always prevail.

4.  Sweet Tooth

by Ian McEwan, Nov 13, 2012
Prolific British author Ian McEwan, whose novel Atonement became a popular film, sets this spy novel during the Cold War. Femme fatale protagonist Selena Frome becomes involved in the “Sweet Tooth” project to nurture anti-Communist writers. Fans and newcomers alike will enjoy McEwan’s stylish prose.

5.  There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra

by Chinua Achebe, 2012
The Nigerian author of the classic Things Fall Apart is now in his 80s and has written a memoir focused around the unsuccessful secession of his native region, Biafra, from Nigeria. In the conflict, Achebe lost his home, a close friend, and what he considered his country. The account is a broad perspective on the war conveyed in simple language and an important addition to Nigerian history.

6.  Have You Seen Marie?

by Sandra Cisneros, 2012
This picture book about a quest for a missing cat named Marie comes from Hispanic-American author Sandra Cisneros, best known for the popular children’s book The House on Mango Street. The prose and illustrations by Ester Hernández paint a vivid portrait of San Antonio, Texas, probably the most interesting part of the book. It can be read by both children and adults, with a more grown-up afterword that discusses the undertones of grief that the loss in the book represents.

7.  Joseph Anton: A Memoir

by Salman Rushdie, 2012
Author Salman Rushdie spent eleven years in hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his execution. His alias during those years was Joseph Anton, from the first names of authors Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov. Rushdie makes an unusual choice to write his memoir in third person, creating a distancing effect that helps readers imagine themselves as a man trying to reconcile death threats and cult-like devotion, life resembling fiction and (unwarranted) fear that his literary career is finished.

8.  The Twelve

by Justin Cronin, 2012
In his 2010 novel The Passage, Justin Cronin re-imagined vampires and zombies, creating a post-apocalyptic world with literary heft. The sequel The Twelve continues the story on both sides of the apocalypse (during and a hundred years later), adding new characters that alter the understanding of the plot and who is really to blame for the devastation. Despite the relatively short wait between books, fans will not be disappointed.

9.  Son

by Lois Lowry, 2012
While not many are aware that Lois Lowry’s YA dystopian novel The Giver is part of a quartet, the series comes to a close with Son, the story of Gabriel’s mother. In The Giver, the protagonist Jonas rescues a toddler Gabriel from “release.” Son continues beyond that moment, as Claire, the mother, follows in order to reclaim the son that, according to her community, she should not recognize as such. Unlike other recent YA dystopias, this tale is less concerned with world-building than exploring the boundlessness of human empathy.

10.  Prosperous Friends

by Christine Schutt, Nov 6, 2012
The language of Christine Schutt’s latest novel is jarring to those accustomed to journalistic prose, but the relationship between Ned Bourne and his wife Isabel rings uncomfortably familiar. Their lives resemble the space after the unfinished dialogue and they aren’t sure if the lack is in themselves or in each other. Joyce and Fitzgerald enthusiasts will savor this capsule of modern-day ennui.


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