Favorite Genres: Primarily literary and realistic fiction, and to a lesser extent travelogues disguised as mysteries, memoirs, intelletual history (for laymen), western history, current affairs, and whatever catches my eye.
Favorite Authors: Contemporary: Elena Ferrrante, Rohinton Mistry, Donna Leon, Jeffrey Eugenideies, Kent Haruf, Alice Hoffman, Ann Patchett, Michael Chabon, Stephen Greenblatt, Lily Tuck, Javier Marias, Sébastien Japrisot. Classic: Dickens, Garcia Márquez, Austen, Nabokov, Mann, too many Russians to list, Maugham, Cather, and of course Shakespeare. Guilty Pleasures: J.K. Rowling, C.S. Forester, gruesome Scandinavian mystery writers, Christopher Moore, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
Dhananjaya, Danny, is working illegally in Sydney, cleaning apartments, living the half-life of an unwanted immigrant. When a client is killed he’s certain he knows the murderer. Should he report it and risk deportation, or go against his conscience? Parallels abound with the dilemmas faced by undocumented workers in America. What of your morality would you sacrifice to remain in a country that doesn’t want you?
In this beautifully told Italian novella, a nameless thirteen year-old only child, living a comfortable life in an Italian seaside village is suddenly removed to a crowded apartment of impoverished strangers—her birth family. She struggles to adapt to her new, diminished life and to understand the betrayal of the woman she considered her mother. An elegant English rendition by Elena Ferrante’s translator.
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A reflection on the ripples of history, and the myth of war and heroism. Cercas seeks to discover the story behind the death of his great-uncle Manuel, 80 years earlier during the Spanish Civil War. Dead at 19, idolized by the author’s mother, Manuel died fighting for Franco’s fascists. This troubles the author, who begins an obsessive decade-long journey to find the answers and forgive his dead relative.
This tense Scandinavian thriller will have you up half the night reading feverishly. Mothers of abused, neglected children are being killed, a primitive doll of chestnuts left near the bodies. A year before, the young daughter of a government minister has been kidnapped and presumed murdered. How are the events connected; who is behind it? Two mismatched detectives race to find answers before it’s too late.
Behind the mythic allure of this heavenly foodstuff lies a disturbing past and perhaps an even more troubling future. As demand grows and supplies dwindle, truffles of aristocratic France and Italy have become that rare commodity people will seemingly go to any length to protect, obtain, replicate, or counterfeit. Ryan Jacobs offers us a captivating, multifaceted look at this secretive, and often violent, culinary subculture.
This novel is a jewel, beautifully told, with complex and original characters. Two sisters, the children of a single and spectacularly indifferent mother, essentially raise themselves. Told by the older sibling, we follow their relationship — at first intimate and then more complicated — as they go off to college and adulthood. You’ll fall in love with both of them and the language of their story. A true delight.
Prepare to be charmed by this novel! It follows the misadventures of one Louis McDonald — recently retired, recently divorced, and thoroughly confused as to how to cope. Told with wry humor, we can't help but root for this lovable misfit as he works on the reformation of his life. Laugh out loud funny at times and poignant at others, you'll come to love Louis and his little dog too.
It’s impossible for Alice Hoffman to write a bad book. This latest effort is a compelling tale set in World War II Germany and France. Three young women struggle to survive the conflict and genocide, one guarded by a mysterious being created to protect her. It is a story told with grace and deep feeling. The humanity of Hoffman’s characters shines forth, even while their world is falling apart before them.
I've a weak spot for novels set in France during the Occupation — think All the Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale. This one is quite good and based on historical figures. Blanche is the American wife of Claude Auzello, manager of the fabled Ritz Hotel. Both are drawn into the resistance, while trying to protect their beloved hotel and its employees. Compelling reading and another chance to hate Nazis all over again.