The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Bloomsbury). And another world-famous author the column never heard of (she’s more famous in England than here, I believe, a runner-up for the Brit …
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Bloomsbury). And another world-famous author the column never heard of (she’s more famous in England than here, I believe, a runner-up for the Brit equivalent of our National Book Award). And a thrilling discovery she is. This beautiful novel spans some decades of the fraught, violent history of Cyprus, very much present in stretches, disrupting, violently, the characters in their lives—a love affair is thwarted for decades by their clashing nationalities and faiths. One thread of magic realism: a good deal of the book is told us, with a perfectly straight—uh—face, by a chattery, charming tree. A very old fig tree; when its future is assured by a character who takes a clipping of it with him to London, we’re about ready to cry with happiness.
All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris (Morrow). Terrific first novel, a thriller—not categorizable as “psychological” or “domestic”; has anybody named “corporate” as a subcategory? Set in Atlanta, in its upper reaches; its central character (and our narrator) a hotshot lawyer, and Black, and smart, and tough, but not a superhero. And no angel: she’s been having a strictly recreational affair with her boss, who’s found dead at his desk, kicking this whole thing off. Also no detective; but she picks that up as she goes along. She’ll make a great central character in a series, which is promised.
The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth By Sam Quinones (Bloomsbury). There mightn’t be much in this big, fine account of all that, that you don’t “know,” a little—know about, in a general way; but Quinones isn’t just a tireless investigator, he’s a powerful writer, both as maker of sentences and constructor of narratives. A lot of stories get told, here, many of them surprising even if you follow the news a lot, and he seems never to get lost among them, so we don’t, either. We look in, calmly and fearfully and in rage and sorrow and satisfaction, on many levels of this baroque structure; on luxury and squalor and ordinary doctors’ offices and corporate boardrooms. And courtrooms, and jail cells. And we’re never lost, and constantly learning about more than drugs.
The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger (Dutton). Carefully constructed historical novel of World War II and a time earlier—but also a surprising and moving women’s friendship novel. The pilot has disappeared in combat; the daughter enlists an aunt’s help in investigating her father’s fate and in the process uncovers that beloved aunt’s slightly scandalous but tremendously enjoyable past.
Game On: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich (Atria). The column has recommended a dozen of this contemporary thriller master’s books in various series, usually just before, sometimes after they’ve shown up on bestseller lists. Might it be enough here to report that she’s lost nothing? Not wit, charm, energy, invention…
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