Our favourite recent literary novels and story collections.
None of This Is Serious
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'Extraordinary' Naoise Dolan
'Seriously good' Louise Nealon
Dublin student life is ending for Sophie and her friends. They've got everything figured out, and Sophie feels left behind as they all start to go their separate ways. Then, at a party, what was already unstable completely falls apart and Sophie finds herself obsessively scrolling social media, waiting for something (anything) to happen.
None of This Is Serious is about the uncertainty and absurdity of being alive today. It's about balancing the real world with the online, and the vulnerabilities in yourself, your relationships, your body. At its heart, this is a novel about the friendships strong enough to withstand anything.
The Books of Jacob
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A NEW YORKER "ESSENTIAL READ"
"Just as awe-inspiring as the Nobel judges claimed." - The Washington Post
"Olga Tokarczuk is one of our greatest living fiction writers. . . This could well be a decade-defining book akin to Bolaño's 2666." -AV Club
"Sophisticated and ribald and brimming with folk wit. . . The comedy in this novel blends, as it does in life, with genuine tragedy." -Dwight Garner, The New York Times
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, TIME, THE NEW YORKER, AND NPR
The Nobel Prize-winner's richest, most sweeping and ambitious novel yet follows the comet-like rise and fall of a mysterious, messianic religious leader as he blazes his way across eighteenth-century Europe.
In the mid-eighteenth century, as new ideas--and a new unrest--begin to sweep the Continent, a young Jew of mysterious origins arrives in a village in Poland. Before long, he has changed not only his name but his persona; visited by what seem to be ecstatic experiences, Jacob Frank casts a charismatic spell that attracts an increasingly fervent following. In the decade to come, Frank will traverse the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires with throngs of disciples in his thrall as he reinvents himself again and again, converts to Islam and then Catholicism, is pilloried as a heretic and revered as the Messiah, and wreaks havoc on the conventional order, Jewish and Christian alike, with scandalous rumors of his sect's secret rituals and the spread of his increasingly iconoclastic beliefs. The story of Frank--a real historical figure around whom mystery and controversy swirl to this day--is the perfect canvas for the genius and unparalleled reach of Olga Tokarczuk. Narrated through the perspectives of his contemporaries--those who revere him, those who revile him, the friend who betrays him, the lone woman who sees him for what he is--The Books of Jacob captures a world on the cusp of precipitous change, searching for certainty and longing for transcendence.
In a nod to books written in Hebrew, The Books of Jacob is paginated in reverse, beginning on p. 955 and ending on p. 1 - but read traditionally, front cover to back.
River Sing Me Home
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A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK o This beautiful, page-turning and redemptive story of a mother's gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children and piece her family back together is a "celebration of motherhood and female resilience" (The Observer).
"A powerful novel that explores how freedom and family are truly defined"--Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Personal Librarian
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by Real Simple, Goodreads, AARP, Boston.com, BookBub and BookRiot
Her search begins with an ending....
The master of the Providence plantation in Barbados gathers his slaves and announces the king has decreed an end to slavery. As of the following day, the Emancipation Act of 1834 will come into effect. The cries of joy fall silent when he announces that they are no longer his slaves; they are now his apprentices. No one can leave. They must work for him for another six years. Freedom is just another name for the life they have always lived. So Rachel runs.
Away from Providence, she begins a desperate search to find her children--the five who survived birth and were sold. Are any of them still alive? Rachel has to know. The grueling, dangerous journey takes her from Barbados then, by river, deep into the forest of British Guiana and finally across the sea to Trinidad. She is driven on by the certainty that a mother cannot be truly free without knowing what has become of her children, even if the answer is more than she can bear. These are the stories of Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. But above all this is the story of Rachel and the extraordinary lengths to which a mother will go to find her children...and her freedom.
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**SOON TO BE A MAJOR NETFLIX FILM**
"An extraordinary novel. A coming-of-age-story you will get lost in." --Fredrik Backman, internationally bestselling author of The Winners
Part coming-of-age novel, part sweeping family saga, and part love song to a disappearing natural world, Stolen is the internationally bestselling and award-winning debut novel about a young Sámi girl and her struggle to defend her family's reindeer herd and their traditional way of life--for readers of Katherena Vermette and Michelle Good.
It is winter, north of the Arctic Circle. A few hours of pale light is all the sun has to offer before the landscape is once more enveloped in complete darkness. This is Sápmi, land of the Sámi, Scandinavia's Indigenous people.
Nine-year-old Elsa is the daughter of Sámi reindeer herders. Her community is under constant threat--from the Swedish population who don't always value the Sámi way of life, from the government that wants to claim their land for mining, and from violent poachers who slaughter their reindeer for sport and for sale on the black market.
One morning, when Elsa goes skiing alone, she witnesses a man brutally killing her beloved reindeer calf. Elsa is terrified by what she sees. Fearing for her own life and for the lives of her family members, she remains silent.
Ten years pass, and Elsa is now trying to claim a role for herself in her community, where male elders expect young women to know their place. Meanwhile, the hostility toward the Sámi continues to escalate, and the police won't do anything to protect them. When Elsa becomes the target of the man who killed her reindeer calf all those years ago, something inside of her breaks. The guilt, fear, and anger she's been carrying since childhood come crashing over her, leading to a final catastrophic confrontation.
Told in three parts, Stolen is a powerful, propulsive, and cinematic novel about a courageous young Sámi woman struggling to defend her Indigenous heritage against the cruelty of the modern world for justice and for the future of her people.
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An NPR, Washington Post, Time, People, Vulture, Guardian, Vox, Kirkus Reviews, Newsweek, LitHub, and New York Public Library Best Book of the Year * "Delightful...cathartic, devious, and terrifically entertaining." --The New York Times * "Timely, whip-smart, and darkly funny." --People (Book of the Week)
A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students--a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own...
"When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me." And so we are introduced to our narrator who's "a work of art in herself" (The Washington Post): a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extra-marital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir--a celebrated, married young novelist who's just arrived on campus--their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.
"Timely, whip-smart, and darkly funny" (People), Vladimir takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. This edgy, uncommonly assured debut perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire.
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"Enthralling. . . . A story that burns with intensity and daring." --Iain Reid
A propulsive novel about the power and paradoxes of desire, from the acclaimed author of The Amateurs.
As small children, Francine and her twin Philip shared a seemingly unbreakable bond--but in adolescence the connection frayed, and in adulthood the siblings are locked in a repeating loop of complex, destructive emotions. Matters have reached a breaking point, and Francine, now in her thirties and the married mother of two small boys, is convinced that Philip's teenaged infatuation with religion and subsequent, ongoing obsession with his sister's "moral impropriety"--sparked by his discovery of her involvement in a forbidden relationship--are to blame.
As storm clouds of resentment and mutual betrayal gather ominously, threatening to upend both siblings' lives and damage their families, Francine unexpectedly finds herself in a situation that mirrors her earlier transgression: stirred and unsettled by her attraction to a wildly inappropriate man. And the one person who suspects is the last person she trusts--her disapproving twin.
With the plot twists of a thriller, lean prose crackling with intensity, and big ideas explored alongside the messy truth of human relationships, Strange Loops simultaneously shocks and thrills the reader, all while asking vital questions about faith, love, and desire.
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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! o A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick
"Sparkling." --The New York Times
"An utterly charming and deeply moving portrait of the joys--and the guilt--of trying to find your own way in life." --Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Our Missing Hearts
"Lively, funny, poignant . . . Prepare to fall in love with Maddie. I did!" --Bonnie Garmus, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry
Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.
It's fair to say that Maddie's life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson's. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.
When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she's ready to experience some important "firsts": She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it's not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils--and rewards--of putting her heart on the line.
Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Jessica George's Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and culturesâEURoand it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.
"Meeting Maame feels like falling in love for the first time: warm, awkward, joyous, a little bit heartbreaking and, most of all, unforgettable." --Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming
Tomb of Sand
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WINNER OF THE 2022 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE
A playful, feminist, and utterly original epic set in contemporary northern India, about a family and the inimitable octogenarian matriarch at its heart.
"A tale tells itself. It can be complete, but also incomplete, the way all tales are. This particular tale has a border and women who come and go as they please. Once you've got women and a border, a story can write itself . . ."
Eighty-year-old Ma slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband. Despite her family's cajoling, she refuses to leave her bed. Her responsible eldest son, Bade, and dutiful, Reebok-sporting daughter-in-law, Bahu, attend to Ma's every need, while her favorite grandson, the cheerful and gregarious Sid, tries to lift her spirits with his guitar. But it is only after Sid's younger brother--Serious Son, a young man pathologically incapable of laughing--brings his grandmother a sparkling golden cane covered with butterflies that things begin to change.
With a new lease on life thanks to the cane's seemingly magical powers, Ma gets out of bed and embarks on a series of adventures that baffle even her unconventional feminist daughter, Beti. She ditches her cumbersome saris, develops a close friendship with a hijra, and sets off on a fateful journey that will turn the family's understanding of themselves upside down.
Rich with fantastical elements, folklore, and exuberant wordplay, Geetanjali Shree's magnificent novel explores timely and timeless topics, including Buddhism, global warming, feminism, Partition, gender binary, transcending borders, and the profound joys of life. Elegant, heartbreaking, and funny, it is a literary masterpiece that marks the American debut of an extraordinary writer.
Translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell
Author's name pronounced: Ghee-TAHN-juh-lee Shree
When We Lost Our Heads
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The #1 national bestseller
"Marvelous . . . viciously funny and acutely intelligent" (Maclean's), When We Lost Our Heads is the spellbinding story of two young women whose friendship is so intense it not only threatens to destroy them, it changes the course of history
Marie Antoine is the charismatic, spoiled daughter of a sugar baron. At age twelve, with her pile of blond curls and unparalleled sense of whimsy, she's the leader of all the children in the Golden Mile, the affluent strip of nineteenth-century Montreal where powerful families live. Until one day in 1873, when Sadie Arnett, dark-haired, sly and brilliant, moves to the neighbourhood.
Marie and Sadie are immediately inseparable. United by their passion and intensity, they attract and repel each other in ways that set them both on fire. Marie, with her bubbly charm, sees all the pleasure of the world, whereas Sadie's obsession with darkness is all-consuming. Soon, their childlike games take on the thrill of danger and then become deadly.
Forced to separate, the girls spend their teenage years engaging in acts of alternating innocence and depravity, until a singular event unites them once more, with devastating effects. After Marie inherits her father's sugar empire and Sadie disappears into the city's gritty underworld, the working class begins to foment a revolution. Each woman will play an unexpected role in the events that upend their city--the only question is whether they will find each other once more.
From the beloved Giller Prize-shortlisted author who writes "like a sort of demented angel with an uncanny knack for metaphor" (Toronto Star), When We Lost Our Heads is a page-turning novel that explores gender and power, sex and desire, class and status, and the terrifying strength of the human heart when it can't let someone go.
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An entrancing novel about a wellness retreat on a remote Greek island hosted by a celebrity guru who is more than meets the eye.
On a flight to New York at the end of her first book tour, up-and-coming writer Agnes Oliver meets Jack Verity, the handsome filmmaker and ex-husband of Geia Stone, a famous actress turned wellness guru, whose popular lifestyle brand Goddess- promotes controversial therapies and expensive beauty tools in the name of self-care and inner nourishment. Jack invites Agnes to a party in the Hamptons, where she meets Geia and finds herself welcomed into the guru's inner circle.
That summer, Geia arranges for Agnes to attend the Goddess- Summit, an exclusive wellness retreat held on a remote Greek island. There, Agnes observes many strange happenings she can't explain, as one by one the other guests seem to fall under the spell of their enchanting host. When Agnes begins to discover who Geia really is, she realizes it's up to her to protect the other women at the summit from an unexpected and unwelcome fate. A propulsive and captivating story about beauty and influence, self-doubt and seduction, Goddess is an electrifying new novel from a talented writer to watch.
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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
As gripping and unforgettable as Fredrik Backman's Bear Town and Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone, this haunting novel digs into the impact of a fatal avalanche on a small BC mountain town, as seen through the eyes of those who survive the tragedy.
"Heart-rending and heart-stopping." --Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens
"...lays bare the truths of mental illness...epically unforgettable." --Jen Sookfong Lee, author of Superfan
"Deeply raw...Insightful and unsparing, this is an important book." --Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People
Content Note: this is an important book and a powerful depiction of extreme Bipolar disorder. It deals with sensitive subject matter, and we encourage readers to take care of themselves and their mental health while reading.
Last Winter is the story of a child who might not survive the heartbreak of her father's death and a mother who struggles to both parent and manage her grief in the grips of a Bipolar crisis.
Fiona and Gus's marriage has veered off course. Fiona's mental health is shaky at best, and is now further strained under the weight of a transgression that she would like to both forget and repeat. Gus, a pro snowboarder turned backcountry guide, is exhausted by Fiona's mood swings and her ambivalence about their relationship, but mostly by the impact of her erratic behaviour on their eight-year-old daughter, Ruby. Ruby loves them both, but has a much closer relationship with her father, and has stopped talking in the face of the tensions between her parents.
In the midst of this marital crisis, Gus takes Ruby's class on an overnight trip into the wilderness, where Ruby is one of only two children to survive the avalanche that kills the others, including her beloved father. While Fiona's mental health is unravelled further by grief, Ruby is flattened by Gus's loss. After the search ends with no sign of her father, Ruby is determined to find him herself, using the survival skills he taught her and believing that he must still be alive. Her trek back into the snow sets off events that stretches her own resourcefulness and her mother's fragile coping skills to the breaking point.
Atmospheric and deftly told with an economy of words and a finely tuned gaze on the small moments that build up to an inexorable and shocking end, Last Winter is a contemporary drama that will grip readers both for the story and for the vibrant portrayal of the complexities of family life.
The World and All That It Holds
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From literary powerhouse Aleksandar Hemon, author of The Lazarus Project, comes a big, brilliant, sweeping novel of love, memory, and history-in-the-making.
As the Archduke Franz Ferdinand arrives in Sarajevo on a sunny June day in 1914, Rafael Pinto is busy crushing herbs and grinding tablets behind the counter at the pharmacy he inherited from his estimable father. It's not quite the life he had expected during his poetry -filled student days in sophisticated, libertine Vienna--but it's nothing a dash of laudanum from the high shelf, a summer stroll, and idle fantasies about passersby can't help.
And then the world explodes. War devours all that they have known, and the only thing Pinto has to live for are the attentions and affection of Osman, a fellow soldier, a man of action to complement Pinto's introspective, poetic soul; a dapper, charismatic storyteller; Pinto's protector and his lover.
Together, Pinto and Osman will escape the trenches, survive near-certain death and imprisonment, tangle with spies and Bolsheviks. Over mountains and across deserts, from one world to another, it is Pinto's love for Osman--with the occasional opiatic interlude--that keeps him going.
The World and All That It Holds--in all its hilarious, heartbreaking, erotic, whimsical, philosophical glory--showcases Hemon's celebrated talent at its pinnacle and cements him as one of the boldest voices of our time.
Violeta [English Edition]
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o This sweeping novel from the author of A Long Petal of the Sea tells the epic story of Violeta Del Valle, a woman whose life spans one hundred years and bears witness to the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century.
"An immersive saga about a passion-filled life."--People
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: PopSugar, Real Simple, Reader's Digest
Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family with five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.
Through her father's prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses everything and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling.
She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting times of devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life is shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women's rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and ultimately not one, but two pandemics.
Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.
Mouth to Mouth
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ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2022 * An NPR and Time Best Book of the Year * Longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize (Canada) * Finalist for CALIBA's 2022 Golden Poppy Awards
A successful art dealer confesses the story of his meteoric rise in this "powerful, intoxicating, and shocking" (The New York Times) novel that's a "slow burn à la Patricia Highsmith" (Oprah Daily). "You'll struggle not to rip through in one sitting" (Vogue).
In a first-class lounge at JFK airport, our narrator listens as Jeff Cook, a former classmate he only vaguely remembers, shares the uncanny story of his adult life--a life that changed course years before, the moment he resuscitated a drowning man.
Jeff reveals that after that traumatic, galvanizing morning on the beach, he was compelled to learn more about the man whose life he had saved, convinced that their fates were now entwined. But are we agents of our fate--or are we its pawns? Upon discovering that the man is renowned art dealer Francis Arsenault, Jeff begins to surreptitiously visit his Beverly Hills gallery. Although Francis does not seem to recognize him as the man who saved his life, he nevertheless casts his legendary eye on Jeff and sees something worthy. He takes the younger man under his wing, initiating him into his world, where knowledge, taste, and access are currency; a world where value is constantly shifting and calling into question what is real, and what matters. The paths of the two men come together and diverge in dizzying ways until the novel's staggering ending.
Sly, suspenseful, and "gloriously addicting" (BuzzFeed), Mouth to Mouth masterfully blurs the line between opportunity and exploitation, self-respect and self-delusion, fact and fiction--exposing the myriad ways we deceive each other, and ourselves.
Two Steps Onward
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Internationally bestselling husband-and-wife writing team, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist return with another smart, romantic adventure set on another of Europe's incredible pilgrimages. TWO STEPS ONWARD is the wise and witty follow-up to TWO STEPS FORWARD. It's about helping the people you love, and knowing when to let go. Figuring out what you really want in life. And seizing your chances, before it's too late. Three years after life got in the way of their long-distance relationship, Californian artist Zoe and English engineer Martin have an unexpected opportunity to reunite: a second chance to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims in Europe. This time, they won't be walking the famous Camino de Santiago to north-west Spain but the less-travelled Chemin d'Assise and Via Francigena to Rome, along the mountainous paths from rural France. And rather than each setting off solo, they will accompany Zoe's old friend Camille--who, despite her life-threatening illness, insists she will walk the whole 1000 miles to seek an audience with the Pope--and her not-so-ex-husband, Gilbert, who sees the trip as a gourmet tour. Then Bernhard, Martin's young nemesis from the previous trek, shows up, along with Martin's daughter, Sarah, who is having a quarter-life crisis and doesn't exactly hit it off with Zoe...