Holy Water: A novel by James P. Othmer
PS3615.T48 H65 2010
A mordant, ruefully funny novel about downsizing, outsourcing, globalization, third-world dictatorships, and vasectomies, by the acclaimed author of The Futurist and Adland.
Henry Tuhoe is the quintessential twenty-first-century man. He has a vague, well-compensated job working for a multinational conglomerate—but everyone around him is getting laid off as the company outsources everything it can to third-world countries.
He has a beautiful wife—his college sweetheart—and an idyllic new home in the leafy suburbs, complete with pool. But his wife won’t let him touch her, even though she demanded he get a vasectomy; he’s seriously overleveraged on the mortgage; and no matter what chemicals he tries the pool remains a corpselike shade of ghastly green.
Then Henry’s boss offers him a choice: go to the tiny, magical, about-to-be-globalized Kingdom of Galado to oversee the launch of a new customer-service call center for a boutique bottled water company the conglomerate has just acquired, or lose the job with no severance. Henry takes the transfer, more out of fecklessness than a sense of adventure.
In Galado, a land both spiritual and corrupt, Henry wrestles with first-world moral conundrums, the life he left behind, the attention of a steroid-abusing, megalomaniacal monarch, and a woman intent on redeeming both his soul and her country. The result is a riveting piece of fiction of and for our times, blackly satirical, moving, and profound.
The Wilding: A novel by Benjamin Percy
PS3616.E72 W55 2010
A powerful debut novel set in a threatened western landscape, from the award-winning author of Refresh, Refresh.
Echo Canyon is a disappearing pocket of wilderness outside of Bend, Oregon, and the site of conflicting memories for Justin Caves and his father, Paul. It’s now slated for redevelopment as a golfing resort. When Paul suggests one last hunting trip, Justin accepts, hoping to get things right with his father this time, and agrees to bring his son, Graham, along.
As the weekend unfolds, Justin is pushed to the limit by the reckless taunting of his father, the physical demands of the terrain, and the menacing evidence of the hovering presence of bear. All the while, he remembers the promise he made to his skeptical wife: to keep their son safe.
Benjamin Percy, a writer whose work Dan Chaon called “bighearted and drunk and dangerous,” shows his mastery of narrative suspense as the novel builds to its surprising climax. The Wilding shines unexpected light on our shifting relationship with nature and family in contemporary society.
Eden: A novel by Yael Hedaya
Translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen.
PJ5055.23.E33 E4313 2010
From the head writer of the original “In Treatment”, an exquisite novel of the maturation of a girl, a family, and an entire community
Eden is no paradise: it is the stifling, rural community in which upscale urban escapees, Alona and Mark, drift apart and divorce under the resentful scrutiny of Roni, Mark’s needy adolescent daughter. Against a rich panorama of Eden’s oldtimers and newcomers, Mark, an emotionally detached architect, begins an involvement with his ex-wife’s best friend, Dafna, who is desperately trying to conceive through the torments of technology, while sixteen-year-old Roni pursues the attention of older men by readily dispensing sexual favors. Over the course of one month, Roni’s self-dramatizing turns to tragedy, her parents are jolted out of their absorbing concerns, and a new family structure begins to form out of an unlikely set of characters.
Through a portrait of family entanglements, disappearing countryside, and disappointed expectations, Yael Hedaya, a determinedly plainspoken novelist, has brilliantly mapped the social and emotional ecology of midlife and achieved miracles of insight and understanding.
Lovers in the Age of Indifference by Xiaolu Guo
PR9450.9.G86 L68 2010
The lovers in the age of indifference are tough romantics from every corner of the planet: a marriage splinters during a game of mah jong; a depressed fiancee is lifted by a mid-air encounter with a Hollywood legend; a mountain keeper watches over a lonely temple but is perturbed when, finally, a visitor dares to arrive.
In this engagingly maverick collection of stories, writer and filmmaker Guo zooms into tender and surreal moments in the lives of lost souls and lovers, adrift between West and East. Her personal, provocative and charming fables capture the sense of alienation thrown up by life in the modern world, and we join her characters in their search for human contact – and love – in rapidly-changing landscapes all around the globe.
Love Like Hate: A novel by Linh Dinh
PS3554.I494 L68 2010
In Love Like Hate, Linh Dinh weaves a dysfunctional family saga that doubles as a portrait of Vietnam in the last half century. Protagonists Kim Lan and Hoang Long marry in Saigon during the Vietnam War, uniting in a setting that allows Dinh’s dark, deadpan humor to flourish. Describing his mushrooming cast of characters in unsentimental and sometimes absurd ways, Dinh embraces contradictions with the surreal exuberance of Matthew Sharpe and the stylistic élan of Italo Calvino.
A recipient of the Pew Foundation grant as a poet and fiction writer, Linh Dinh is the author of four books of poems and two collections of stories, including Blood and Soap, which was one of The Village Voice‘s Best Books of 2004. He is also the editor of two anthologies of Vietnamese writers and poets.
I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson
Translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson.
PT8951.26.E88 J4413 2010b
Mother-son relationships are always complicated, even if we deny it. In the case of Norwegian author Per Petterson, they were especially thorny: In the last words she spoke to him, she hoped that his next novel would not be so childish. In this novel, as in his bestselling Out Stealing Horses, he infuses parental relationships with the sensitivity of one who has been there. In I Curse The River of Time, recurring protagonist Arvid Jansen (In The Wake) copes with the breakup of his marriage, his mother’s grave illness, and jolting changes in the outside world.
Termite Parade: A novel by Joshua Mohr
PS3613.O379 T47 2010
Termite Parade is the second novel from San Francisco Chronicle best-selling author Joshua Mohr. It is a mature look at the honest side of human interaction.
Derek drops his black-out drunk and verbally abusive girlfriend Mired down a flight of stairs in their apartment building on purpose, and then calls his estranged twin brother Frank to help clean up the mess.
Mired thinks she fell and blames herself; Frank knows better; Derek, ravaged with guilt, plays along before ditching town altogether.
Termite Parade examines how Derek, Mired, and Frank cope with the incident, and, more deeply, the concepts of how we love one another; whether individuals are capable of change or whether we simply are who we are; and how capable we are, despite being an extremely intelligent and evolved species, of being savage animals.
The Jokers by Albert Cossery
Translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis
PQ2605.O725 V513 2010
Who are the jokers?
The jokers are the government, and the biggest joker of all is the governor, a bug-eyed, strutting, rapacious character of unequaled incompetence who presides over the nameless Middle Eastern city where this effervescent comedy by Albert Cossery is set.
The jokers are also the revolutionaries, no less bumbling and no less infatuated with the trappings of power than the government they oppose.
And the jokers are Karim, Omar, Heykal, Urfy, and their friends, free spirits who see the other jokers for the jokers they are and have cooked up a sophisticated and, most important, foolproof plan to enliven public life with a dash of subversive humor.
The joke is on them all.
A Thousand Peaceful Cities by Jerzy Pilch
Translated from the Polish by David Frick
PG7175.I49 T9713 2010
A comic gem, Jerzy Pilch’s A Thousand Peaceful Cities takes place in 1963, in the latter days of the Polish post-Stalinist “thaw.” The narrator, Jerzyk (“little Jerzy”), is a teenager who is keenly interested in his father, a retired postal administrator, and his father’s closest friend, Mr. Trąba, a failed Lutheran clergyman, alcoholic, would-be Polish insurrectionist, and one of the wildest literary characters since Sterne’s Uncle Toby. One drunken afternoon, Mr. Trąba and the narrator’s nameless father decide to take charge of their lives and do one final good turn for humanity: travel to distant Warsaw and assassinate the de facto Polish head of state, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party, Władysław Gomułka—assassinating Mao Tse-tung, after all, would be impractical. And they decide to involve Jerzyk in their scheme . . .