From Bohjalian to Wideman | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Mar. 2018

Bohjalian, Chris. The Flight Attendant. Doubleday. Mar. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780385542418. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385542425. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY/THRILLER
Here’s a milestone: the ever-popular Bohjalian is publishing his 20th novel, and as always it combines popular tropes with a serious examination of social issues. Binge-drinking airline stewardess Cassandra Bowden wakes up with another bad hangover in a Dubai hotel room and finds the man she spent the night with lying dead beside her. She flees, lying her way from the ride to the airport through the flight to Paris to her meeting with the FBI agents at flight’s end. What really happened? And what are the consequences of addiction, deception, and denial? Fans are lining up.

Carroll, James. The Cloister. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Mar. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780385541275. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385541282. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
In mid-20th-century Manhattan, Father Michael Kavanagh encounters a museum guide named Rachel Vedette who’s seeking retreat in a Cloisters after having survived the horrors of the Holocaust as a French Jew. She tells him about her late father’s study of the intellectual exchange between medieval Jewish scholars and monk/scholar Peter Abelard, famous for his controversial views and forbidden love of Héloïse. Abelard has something to teach both Rachel and Father Michael, and National Book Award winner James Carroll, with his acute understanding of religion, has the wherewithal to weave together the lives of three people.

George, Elizabeth. The Punishment She Deserves: A Lynley Novel. Viking. Mar. 2018. 592p. ISBN 9780525954347. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698411654. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. MYSTERY
No. 1 New York Times best-selling George returns with her next mystery featuring DI Thomas Lynley and his partner, DS Barbara Havers, who appears to have the lead here. Approached by a Member of Parliament with a request to investigate the supposed suicide of a constituent’s son, New Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner sees an opportunity to stick Barbara Havers with an impossible case and thence get rid of her. (He’s not a fan.) George’s last title was in 2015, so folks will be clamoring.

Mangan, Christine. Tangerine. Ecco. Mar. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780062686664. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062686688. LITERARY
Alice hasn’t spoken to former Bennington roommate Lucy since a terrible accident over a year ago, but she’s almost relieved when Lucy arrives in sun-scorched 1950s Tangier, eager to put things right. At least Lucy gets Alice out of the house. But soon Lucy seems to be taking over (again), and then Alice’s husband disappears. Atmospheric enough to be a movie? You bet; George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures bought the film rights, with Scarlett Johansson set to star. No wonder this debut is getting a 200,000-copy first printing.

Miles, Jonathan. Anatomy of a Miracle. Hogarth: Crown. Mar. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780553447583. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780553447590. Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
Shattered by gunfire in Afghanistan, Private First Class Cameron Harris has spent four years in a wheelchair at his family home in Biloxi, MS. Then one day, while sitting outside the local convenience store and having a smoke, he stands up. Now scientists, journalists, and even the Vatican are interested in investigating this miracle, but Cameron’s not so sure; he’s got secrets. From the author of Dear American Airlines and Want Not, which both achieved best book status.

Rachman, Tom. The Italian Teacher. Viking. Mar. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780735222694. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735222717. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY
Pinch’s father is a genius painter named Bear who abandons the family. Pinch tries to get his attention by becoming a painter himself, then by writing Bear’s biography, but he’s not a smashing success and ends up teaching Italian in London. Then Bear dies, and Pinch dreams up a way to assure his father’s legacy while making a name for himself. Rachman is the author of the hugely best-selling The Imperfectionists and The Rise & Fall of Great Powers, both multi-best-booked titles.

Rao, Shobha. Girls Burn Brighter. Flatiron: Macmillan. Mar. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250074256. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250074263. LITERAR
Winner of the 2014 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, Rao is author of the short story collection An Unrestored Woman, which made big, beautiful noise last year. (Her story “Kavitha and Mustafa” also appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2015). In a much-anticipated debut novel that opens in India, Poornima finds a best friend when her father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms. Savitha has virtually nothing to her name but can find beauty anywhere, from the cloth they weave to the curve of a banana. But an awful moment of cruelty drive Savitha, and Poornima ends up hunting for her, moving through India’s underworld and finally arriving in Seattle. Big book club and library outreach.

Urrea, Luis Alberto. House of Broken Angels. Little, Brown. Mar. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780316154888. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316516259. LITERARY
American Book Award winner, New York Times Notable Book honoree, and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Urrea has made his mark in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Here he crafts the San Diego–set story of a final birthday party thrown for fading patriarch Miguel Angel De La Cruz, known to everyone as Big Angel. It gets complicated when his ancient mother dies unexpectedly, and the event turns into a celebration of the family’s history. Billed as the definitive Mexican American immigrant story.

Wideman, John Edgar. American Histories: Stories. Scribner. Mar. 2018. 192p. ISBN 9781501178344. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501178368. SHORT STORIES
MacArthur Fellow, two-time PEN/Faulkner Award winner, and two-time National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, Wideman is a literary force not to be ignored. Here he offers new stories that sometimes introduce real-life characters as they walk the line between personal and historical. For instance, one story envisions a conversation between John Brown and Frederick Douglass, while in other stories the narrator contemplates his relationship with his father and with his late brother and uncle. With a tour to Baltimore, the Berkshires, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

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