Junot Diaz - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Areader might at first be surprised by how many chapters of a book entitled The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are devoted not to its sci fi–and–fantasy-gobbling nerd-hero but to his sister, his mother and his grandfather. However, Junot Diaz's dark and exuberant first novel makes a compelling case for the multiperspectival view of a life, wherein an individual cannot be known or understood in isolation from the history of his family and his nation.Oscar being a first-generation Dominican-American, the nation in question is really two nations. And Dominicans in this novel being explicitly of mixed Taíno, African and Spanish descent, the very ideas of nationhood and nationality are thoughtfully, subtly complicated. The various nationalities and generations are subtended by the recurring motif of fukú, the Curse and Doom of the New World, whose midwife and... victim was a historical personage Diaz will only call the Admiral, in deference to the belief that uttering his name brings bad luck (hint: he arrived in the New World in 1492 and his initials are CC). By the prologue's end, it's clear that this story of one poor guy's cursed life will also be the story of how 500 years of historical and familial bad luck shape the destiny of its fat, sad, smart, lovable and short-lived protagonist. The book's pervasive sense of doom is offset by a rich and playful prose that embodies its theme of multiple nations, cultures and languages, often shifting in a single sentence from English to Spanish, from Victorian formality to Negropolitan vernacular, from Homeric epithet to dirty bilingual insult. Even the presumed reader shape-shifts in the estimation of its in-your-face narrator, who addresses us variously as folks, you folks, conspiracy-minded-fools, Negro, Nigger and plataneros. So while Diaz assumes in his reader the same considerable degree of multicultural erudition he himself possesses—offering no gloss on his many un-italicized Spanish words and expressions (thus beautifully dramatizing how linguistic borders, like national ones, are porous), or on his plethora of genre and canonical literary allusions—he does helpfully footnote aspects of Dominican history, especially those concerning the bloody 30-year reign of President Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The later Oscar chapters lack the linguistic brio of the others, and there are exposition-clogged passages that read like summaries of a longer narrative, but mostly this fierce, funny, tragic book is just what a reader would have hoped for in a novel by Junot Diaz.
Jeffrey Eugenides - The Virgin Suicides
First published in 1993, "The Virgin Suicides" announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, "The Virgin Suicides" is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.
E. Annie Proulx - The Shipping News
Annie Proulx's highly acclaimed, international bestseller and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Quoyle is a hapless, hopeless hack journalist living and working in New York. When his no-good wife is killed in a spectacular road accident, Quoyle heads for the land of his forefathers -- the remotest corner of far-flung Newfoundland. With 'the aunt' and his delinquent daughters -- Bunny and Sunshine -- in tow, Quoyle finds himself part of an unfolding, exhilarating Atlantic drama. 'The Shipping News' is an irresistible comedy of human life and possibility.
Toni Morrison - Song of Solomon
This is the story of Macon ''Milkman'' Dead, as he makes a voyage of rediscovery, travelling southwards geographically and inwards spiritually. Through the enlightenment of one man the novel recapitulates the history of slavery and liberation.
William Styron - The Confessions of Nat Turner
Turner's Rebellion took place in the long hot summer of 1831, in the state of Virginia. When it was over, 59 white people were dead; the insurgents were rounded up and either hanged or worse; and Nat Turner, a preacher, confessed to his part in the only effective revolt in the annals of American Negro slavery. In his introduction of this Pulitzer Prize winner, Styron says "it has been my own intention to try to re-create a man and his era, and to produce a work that is less an historical novel in conventional terms than a meditation on history."
Cormac McCarthy - The Road
Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work. McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries. In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith. --Dennis Lehane
Donna Tartt - The Goldfinch
Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.
Donna Tartt - The Secret History
This novel is set on a small college campus in Vermont. Dissatisfied with the crass values of their fellow students, a small corps of undergraduates groups itself around a favored professor of classics, who nurtures both their sense of moral elevation and an insularity from conventional college life that ultimately proves fatal. Among Prof. Julian Morrow's followers are Henry Winter, a tall scion of a wealthy St. Louis family, the twins Charles and Camilla Macaulay, both intellectually gifted and eccentric only in their excessive mutual devotion; Francis Abernathy, a dandyish homosexual slowly awakening to his sexuality; and Edmund (Bunny) Corcoran, who becomes the group's victim.
Richard Russo - Empire Falls
With Empire Falls Richard Russo cements his reputation as one of America’s most compelling and compassionate storytellers. Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Half of a Yellow Sun
Winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007, this is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written literary masterpiece. This highly anticipated novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is set in Nigeria during the 1960s, at the time of a vicious civil war in which a million people died and thousands were massacred in cold blood. The three main characters in the novel are swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. One is a young boy from a poor village who is employed at a university lecturer's house. The other is a young middle-class woman, Olanna, who has to confront the reality of the massacre of her relatives. And the third is a white man, a writer who lives in Nigeria for no clear reason, and who falls in love with Olanna's twin sister, a remote and enigmatic character. As these people's lives intersect, they have to question their own responses to the unfolding political events. This extraordinary novel is about Africa in a wider sense: about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race; and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.
John Updike - Nyúlszív
Nyúl, a „beszédes amerikai”, aki eddig három kötetre valót mesélt nekünk az amerikai kis-középpolgár hétköznapjairól, akinek köszönhetően itt, Közép-Európában is érezzük Amerika elmúlt évtizedeit – az 50-es évek nekilendülő virágzását és létbizonytalanságát, a 60-asok dühöngő rossz közérzetét és társadalmi bűntudatát, a 70-es évtized általános kimerültségét és apátiáját –, Nyúl tehát most, 1989–90-ben ötvenhat éves, öregnek érzi magát, megkeseredett. Krisztusi korba ért fia baklövést baklövés után követ el, unokái nyugodt életét nem látja biztosítva, felesége egyre függetlenedik tőle, egyszóval, legalább annyi a problémája, mint fiatal korában, amikor felhúzta a nyúlcipőt. De hová fusson az elhájasodott, szívbeteg, még mindig szeretetre méltó s még mindig kíméletlen, ám sokkal bölcsebb Nyúl? Természetesen Floridába, az öregek paradicsomába. És persze vissza az ifjúságába. Van mire visszatekintenie: érdekes és értelmes életet élt, gyávaságai ellenére bátrabb és józanabb volt, mint a legtöbbünk. Ember volt a XX. század második felében, Huck Finnként és Holden Caulfieldként kezdte, s talán nem túlzás azt állítani: Thomas Mann-i figurák szintjéig jutott.
John Updike - Nyúlháj
Az én koromban, ha az ember hátán viselné mindazt a nyomorúságot, aminek valaha tanúja volt, reggel föl se kelne – magyarázza Nyúl tétova, kapkodó, megházasodott és apai örömöknek elébe néző fiának, Nelsonnak, akivel nem tud zöld ágra vergődni, aki megállapodott polgári nevelésének rendjét kikezdi, akit szeret is, de inkább ki nem állhat, talán éppen azért, mert kísértetiesen hasonlít húsz évvel ezelőtti önmagára. 1979–80 fordulóján, az apósától örökölt Toyota- és használtkocsitelep vezetőjeként, változatlanul felesége, Janice oldalán, anyósával egy fedél alatt, rögzült baráti körébe zárva Nyúlnak már esze ágában sincs futni. Legfeljebb kocog: Valamikor régen, ha Janice ilyen volt, a félelme mintha őt is megfertőzte volna, és futott tőle; de most, hogy benne vannak a korban, tudja jól, hogy soha el nem fut... Mi marad hát Nyúlnak? A pennsylvaniai kisváros, Brewer mindennapi gondjai, a már szinte rutinszerű erotikus fantaziálgatások, no meg egy „igazi” kaland is: feleségcsere egy nyaralás alkalmával – s mindenekfelett a megbékélés egy gondolattal: hogy nagyapa lett, következésképpen negyvenhét éves korára újabb szög került a koporsója fedelébe.
Toni Morrison - A kedves
Büszke és önálló gondolkodású asszony Sethe, a szökött rabszolga, az anyaság megtestesítője - neve a bibliai ősatyára, Sétre utal -, akinek csak negyedik gyermeke születése után jut osztályrészül egy csöppnyi boldogság, összesen huszonnyolc nap. Számára a jövő értelme abban áll, hogy féken tartsa a múltat, miközben iszonyatos erőfeszítéssel igyekszik megmenteni gyermekeit a fizikai és érzelmi megpróbáltatásoktól... Megtörtént esemény, egy hatalmas vihart kavaró gyilkosság lobbantotta lángra a Nobel-díjas amerikai írónő képzeletét. Műve egyrészt történelmi regény sokszereplős sorsábrázolással, másrészt lélegzetelállítóan igaz kísértethistória - mert az igazság teljes feltárása során egymás mellé kell kerülnie a fantáziának, a valóságnak és a lehetségesnek. Toni Morrison remekművében ott van az Exodus robaja és az altatódal idilli csendje.
Nicole Krauss - The History of Love
Leo Gursky is just about surviving life in America, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbour know he's still alive, drawing attention to himself at the milk counter of Starbucks. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And, although he doesn't know it yet, the book survived, inspiring fabulous circumstances, even love. Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that very book and although she has her hands full keeping track of her little brother Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on How to Survive in the Wild, she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake, and save her family. In her extraordinary new novel Nicole Krauss has created some of the most memorable and moving characters in recent fiction. In its heartbreaking exploration of hope and survival, of loneliness and the redemptive power of love, The History of Love confirms Nicole Krauss as one of the most remarkable writers of her generation. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
William Kennedy - Ironweed
Ironweed is the best-known of William Kennedy's three Albany-based novels. Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, full-time drunk, has hit bottom. Years ago he left Albany in a hurry after killing a scab during a trolley workers' strike; he ran away again after accidentally - and fatally - dropping his infant son. Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town, roaming the old familiar streets with his hobo pal, Helen, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and the present...
Pearl Abraham - The Romance Reader
In one of the most exciting debuts in years, Pearl Abraham - who grew up in a Hasidic community herself - presents the story of Rachel, a girl caught between the strictly controlled world of ultra Orthodox Judaism and the sedictive yearnings of her own heart. Both a coming-of-age story and a brave, beautifully rendered expose of a hidden, insular world... heartrending.
Jodi Picoult - Keeping Faith
When seven-year-old Faith White and her mother, Mariah, swing by the house on the way to ballet class, they find that Daddy is home and he's brought a playmate. This is not the first time he's been caught cheating. After the fuss and feathers have settled and Dad has moved out, Faith begins talking to an imaginary friend who, it seems, is God. And God is not male but female. Faith is able to effect miraculous cures and is also occasionally afflicted with stigmata. When the media gets wind of this, the circus begins. The local rabbi takes an interest (Faith and Mariah are technically Jewish), and the local Catholic priest pays several inquiring visits. There is also a gaggle of psychologists. Throw in a professional atheist for the romance angle and a vicious custody fight with an egomaniacal lawyer, and you have a riveting read.
Irvine Welsh - Trainspotting (angol)
Mark Renton is a very sick young man, sick of heroin, sick of trying to get off it. Most of us, he's sick of himself, his friends and growing up in the AIDS/HIV capital of Europe. The nihilistic youth sees nothing ahead in the future: 'Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye've produced. Choose life.' Trainspotting became an instant classic howl of rage, despair and style from the Scottish capital's forgotten streets that would be heard all over the world.
Herman Wouk - Zendülés a Caine hadihajón
A második világháború alatt a csendes-óceáni flotta egy jelentéktelen kis hajójának fedélzetén olyan esemény történik, amilyenre még nem volt példa az amerikai haditengerészet történetében: az első tiszt leváltja a kapitányt. A legénység és az idegbeteg, erőszakoskodó, igazságtalan hajóparancsnok viszonya az út során fokozatosan elmérgesedik, majd egy hurrikán alkalmával - amikor a kapitány ostoba döntéseivel életveszélybe sodorja a hajót - robban ki a zendülés...
J. M. Coetzee - The Master of Petersburg
In The Master of Petersburg J. M. Coetzee dares to imagine the life of Dostoevsky. Set in 1869, when Dostoevsky was summoned from Germany to St Petersburg by the sudden death of his stepson, this novel is at once a compelling mystery steeped in the atmosphere of pre-revolutionary Russia and a brilliant and courageous meditation on authority and rebellion, art and imagination. Dostoevsky is seen obsessively following his stepson's ghost, trying to ascertain whether he was a suicide or a murder victim and whether he loved or despised his stepfather.