New fiction at the UGA Libraries, March 9

March 9, 2011 – 8:00 PM

Waiting for Joe: A novel by Sandra Birdsell
PR9199.3.B4385 W358 2010

After you’ve lost it all — job, house, savings, future —what have you got left? A piercing new novel of our times by one of Canada’s finest fiction writers. On a chilly early morning in late spring, Joe Beaudry and his wife, Laurie, wake up in circumstances that would challenge saints: they are on the lam in a stolen motorhome on the edge of a Walmart parking lot in Regina, Saskatchewan. They’ve gone bust, spectacularly: lost the house that was Joe’s gift from his dad, lost the business Joe started when he got married, and stuck his ancient father in a nursing home in Winnipeg so they could flee their creditors. Joe knows the reality of the situation, and is trying to raise enough cash to get them both to Fort McMurray where he hopes he can find work. But Laurie, even though she watched Joe trash their high-end appliances with a sledgehammer when the yard sale didn’t deliver enough cash, somehow thinks it’s only temporary, and maxes out their last credit card on wardrobe and hair dye and wishes and dreams. For Joe, it’s the last straw in a marriage that once seemed star-crossed and now seems simply unworkable.Pushed to figure out what to do next, Joe simply takes off hitchhiking, leaving Laurie waiting for Joe, and Joe wondering how he will ever find meaning in a world that has disappointed his every expectation. The road for both of them provides surprising answers…

Death as a Side Effect by Ana María Shua
PQ7798.29.H8 M9413 2010

In Death as a Side Effect, Ana María Shua’s brilliantly dark satire transports readers to a dystopic future Argentina where gangs of ad hoc marauders and professional thieves roam the streets while the wealthy purchase security behind fortified concrete walls and the elderly cower in their apartments in fear of being whisked off to state-mandated “convalescent” homes, never to return. Abandoned by his mistress, suffocated by his father, and estranged from his demented mother and ineffectual sister, Ernesto seeks his vanished lover. Hoping to save his dying father from the ministrations of a diabolical health-care system, he discovers that, ultimately, everyone is a patient, and the instruments wielded by the impersonal medical corps cut to the very heart of the social fabric.

The world of this novel, with its closed districts, unsafe travel, ubiquitous security cameras, and widespread artificiality and uncertainty, is as familiar as it is strange—and as instructive, in its harrowing way, as it is deeply entertaining. The Spanish edition has been selected by the Congreso de la Lengua Española as one of the one hundred best Latin American novels published in the last twenty-five years.

Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund
PS3564.A827 A67 2010b

Hours before his untimely—and highly suspicious—death, world-renowned astrophysicist Thom Bergmann shares his discovery of extraterrestrial life with his wife, Lucy. Feeling that the warring world is not ready to learn of—or accept—proof of life elsewhere in the universe, Thom entrusts Lucy with his computer flash drive, which holds the keys to his secret work.

Devastated by Thom’s death, Lucy keeps the secret, but Thom’s friend, anthropologist Pierre Saad, contacts Lucy with an unusual and dangerous request about another sensitive matter. Pierre needs Lucy to help him smuggle a newly discovered artifact out of Egypt: an ancient codex concerning the human authorship of the Book of Genesis. Offering a reinterpretation of the creation story, the document is sure to threaten the foundation of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions . . . and there are those who will stop at nothing to suppress it.

Midway through the daring journey, Lucy’s small plane goes down on a slip of verdant land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. Burned in the crash landing, she is rescued by Adam, a delusional American soldier whose search for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has led to madness. Blessed with youth, beauty, and an unsettling innocence, Adam gently tends to Lucy’s wounds, and in this quiet, solitary paradise, a bond between the unlikely pair grows. Ultimately, Lucy and Adam forsake their half-mythical Eden and make their way back toward civilization, where members of an ultraconservative religious cult are determined to deprive the world of the knowledge Lucy carries.

The Fish Child by Lucía Puenzo
Translated by David William Foster
PQ7798.426.U36 N5613 2010

Affluent Lala and impoverished Guayi, her Paraguayan maid, are determined to pursue their romance despite overwhelming disparities in class and status. Although they have plotted a future together near Paraguay’s Ypacara Lake, Guayi’s native region, a shocking discovery and an even more shocking reaction lead Lala to depart without her disappeared lover.

As she ventures by bus far from her privileged Buenos Aires home, Lala delves into Guayi’s past, in due time encountering the disturbing legend of the fish boy who is said to guide drowning victims to the bottom of the lake. By turns sordid, thrilling, and comic, Puenzo’s debut novel explores the character and choices of two strong-willed young women through the vehicle of the economic and social circumstances of two South American nations where archaic elements coexist with shrill modernity.

The Castle in the Pyrenees by Jostein Gaarder
Translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson
PT8951.17.A17 S6313 2010

Through five intense years in the 1970s, Steinn and Solrunn had a happy life together, then they suddenly parted ways, for reasons that are unclear to both. In the summer of 2007 they meet again on a balcony of an old wooden hotel by a fjord in western Norway. It is a place they both have fond memories from, and their meeting turns out to be fateful. But is it purely coincidental that they meet at that particular spot at that particular time? Over a couple of weeks that summer they write emails to each other, and it becomes clear that they have been living with very different interpretations of their shared past. This intimate love story of rediscovery explores the question: can science explain everything, or does some invisible force influence our lives?

Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
PR6052.A485 S87 2010

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.

It begins with a murder.

And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful – and arguably deranged – warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war – brutal, far-reaching – is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it’s about to erupt into reality.

It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the center of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.

Surface Detail is Iain M. Banks’ new Culture novel, a breathtaking achievement from a writer whose body of work is without parallel in the modern history of science fiction.

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