New fiction at the UGA Libraries, Oct 13

October 13, 2011 – 12:15 PM

Leeches by David Albahari
translated from the Serbian by Ellen Elias-Bursać
PG1419.1.L335 P5813 2011

The place is Serbia, the time is the late nineteen-nineties. Our protagonist, a single man, writes a regular column for Minut, a Belgrade newspaper, and spends the rest of his time with his best friend smoking pot and talking about sex, politics, and life in general. One day on the shore of the Danube he spots a man slapping a beautiful woman. Intrigued, he follows the woman into the tangled streets of the city until he loses sight of her. A few days later he receives a mysterious manuscript whose contents seem to mutate each time he opens it. To decipher the manuscript, a collection of fragments on the Kabbalah and the history of the Zemun and Belgrade Jewish communities, he reaches out to an old schoolmate, now an eccentric mathematician, and to a group of men from the Jewish community. As the narrator delves deeper into arcane topics, he begins to see signs of anti-Semitism, past and present, throughout the city. He feels impelled to denounce it in Minut. But his increasingly passionate columns erupt in a scandal, culminating in murder.

If Sons, Then Heirs: A novel by Lorene Cary
PS3553.A78944 I38 2011

If Sons, Then Heirs sheds light on a uniquely American, largely untold story of African American land ownership, the outmigration from the South, racial violence, and the consequences of past decisions on present realities.

After World War II, Needham family members migrated north to Philadelphia from South Carolina, leaving behind the tragic injustice surrounding the violent death of their patriarch, King. His devoted widow, Selma, remains on the old home place. Over the years, she raises King’s children, including his great-grandson, Rayne, on whom falls the responsibility to bring the family together to save the family land and mend the rift between him and his mother.

Rayne and the other vividly drawn characters face challenges big and small that mirror the experiences of families everywhere. But in the masterful storytelling of Lorene Cary, so distinct and unique are their voices that they will live in the minds of readers long after the last page is read. If Sons, Then Heirs is a tour de force that explores the power of family secrets, bonds, and love. This gripping novel is certain to be on the must-read lists of all who enjoy brilliantly rendered stories of family, love, and American history.

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
PR6123.I5743 W56 2011

This is a book about a brother and a sister. It’s a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it’s a book about love in all its forms.

In a remarkably honest and confident voice, Sarah Winman has written the story of a memorable young heroine, Elly, and her loss of innocence-a magical portrait of growing up and the pull and power of family ties. From Essex and Cornwall to the streets of New York, from 1968 to the events of 9/11, When God Was a Rabbit follows the evolving bond of love and secrets between Elly and her brother Joe, and her increasing concern for an unusual best friend, Jenny Penny, who has secrets of her own. With its wit and humor, engaging characters whose eccentricities are adroitly and sometimes darkly drawn, and its themes of memory and identity, When God Was a Rabbit is a love letter to true friendship and fraternal love.

Funny, utterly compelling, fully of sparkle, and poignant, too, When God Was a Rabbit heralds the start of a remarkable new literary career.

At the Chime of a City Clock by D.J. Taylor
PR6070.A9118 A8 2010

London’s Bayswater in the summer of 1931 is not the most fashionable of places to live, and the protagonist of DJ Taylor’s strikingly original At the Chime of a City Clock, James Ross, is not comfortable with his lot. He’s a writer, but unfortunately there are no publishers eager to sample his wares. His landlady is breathing down his neck for unpaid rent, and he is forced to try extremely uncongenial occupation to keep body and soul together: pedalling carpet cleaning lotions from door-to-door. His life, however, is about to change — dramatically — when he meets the seductive Suzi, and her mysterious boss, Mr. Rasmussen.

In the vividness of its seedy setting and the evocation of a particular period in British history, Taylor’s highly entertaining book is more than a little reminiscent of that great chronicler of the less-than-salubrious London of this period, Patrick Hamilton. But as the nicely judged retro cover suggests, At the Chime of a City Clock is about crime and femme fatales. But it’s also about more than that, as readers will discover. The aforementioned Mr. Rasmussen may well be a criminal — and certainly his interest in the disused premises over a jeweller’s shop has sinister implications. When a member of West End Central becomes intrigued by Rasmussen’s behaviour, the reluctant James Ross finds himself dragooned into keeping a close watch over Suzi’s boss. And things will come to a head — dramatically — when James is invited to stay at an upscale country weekend in Sussex, where the revelations will come thick and fast.

DJ Taylor is a distinguished critic and biographer (with both Thackeray and Orwell under his belt), but aficionados of the best fictional writing will be aware of his six novels. This latest one — which functions as both as an evocation of an earlier period and as a clever modern riff on familiar themes — is possibly his most accomplished yet. Even if you are not an admirer of Patrick Hamilton, you would do well to pick up this highly intriguing and well-researched mystery.

Black Soul by Ahmet M. Rahmanović
PG1745.R34 B5313 2010

After fifty years, genocide in Europe again. This time live, 24/7 coverage of the extermination of a nation. The author, Ahmet M. Rahmanovic, pens a fictional novel based on the true events of Bosnia´s darkest period in “Black Soul”, a new book release through Xlibris.

This book, unlike any others, gives a face to all the actors in the Bosnian tragedy. In gripping war-action thriller, Rahmanovic takes readers from the battle-torn hills of Sarajevo to the streets of Chicago, where one man journeys to find new meaning in his life. Can he escape the horrors of memory in a foreign land, or will it continue to haunt him?

Simple Story by Leonardo Sciascia
translated by Howard Curtis
PQ4879.C54 S7513 2010

The first translation into English of the acclaimed mystery-writer’s final detective novel serves as the perfect introduction to an important Italian writer. Published just before his death, this novel refines and condenses Sciascia’s analysis of the mafia and the crucial part it plays in Sicily’s political system. In a small Sicilian village, a young and inexperienced policeman receives a strange phone call from a retired diplomat. On investigating the matter, he finds the diplomat dead. What at first appears to be a simple case of suicide turns into an intricate tale of corruption that involves the Mafia, the head of police, and the entire Sicilian establishment. Sciascia’s novella Candido is also included.

Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee
PR9499.3.M77 M56 2011

Anjali Bose is “Miss New India.” Born into a traditional lower-middle-class family and living in a backwater town with an arranged marriage on the horizon, Anjali’s prospects don’t look great. But her ambition and fluency in language do not go unnoticed by her expat teacher, Peter Champion. And champion her he does, both to other powerful people who can help her along the way and to Anjali herself, stirring in her a desire to take charge of her own destiny.

So she sets off to Bangalore, India’s fastest-growing major metropolis, and quickly falls in with an audacious and ambitious crowd of young people, who have learned how to sound American by watching shows likeSeinfeldin order to get jobs as call-center service agents, where they are quickly able to out-earn their parents. And it is in this high-tech city where Anjali—suddenly free from the traditional confines of class, caste, gender, and more—is able to confront her past and reinvent herself. Of course, the seductive pull of modernity does not come without a dark side . . .

Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela
PR6051.B68 L97 2010

Lyrics Alley is the evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they’ve built for decades.

In 1950’s Sudan, the powerful Abuzeid dynasty has amassed a fortune through their trading firm. With Mahmoud Bey at its helm, they can do no wrong. But when Mahmoud’s son, Nur, the brilliant, handsome heir to the business empire, suffers a debilitating accident, the family stands divided in the face of an uncertain future. As British rule nears its end, the country is torn between modernizing influences and the call of traditions past—a conflict reflected in the growing tensions between Mahmoud’s two wives: the younger, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and escape “backward-looking” Sudan; while Waheeba lives traditionally behind veils and closed doors. It’s not until Nur asserts himself outside the cultural limits of his parents that his own spirit and the frayed bonds of his family begin to mend.

Moving from Sudanese alleys to cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated postcolonial Britain, this sweeping tale of desire, loss, despair, and reconciliation is one of the most accomplished portraits ever written about Sudanese society at the time of independence.

Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin
translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell
PG3488.O66 D4613 2011

Moscow, 2028. A cold, snowy morning.

Andrei Danilovich Komiaga is fast asleep. A scream, a moan, and a death rattle slowly pull him out of his drunken stupor—but wait, that’s just his ring tone. And so begins another day in the life of an oprichnik, one of the czar’s most trusted courtiers—and one of the country’s most feared men.

Welcome to the new New Russia, where futuristic technology and the draconian codes of Ivan the Terrible are in perfect synergy. Corporal punishment is back, as is a divine monarch, but these days everyone gets information from high-tech news bubbles, and the elite get high on hallucinogenic, genetically modified fish.

Over the course of one day, Andrei Komiaga will bear witness to—and participate in—brutal executions; extravagant parties; meetings with ballerinas, soothsayers, and even the czarina. He will rape and pillage, and he will be moved to tears by the sweetly sung songs of his homeland. He will consume an arsenal of drugs and denounce threats to his great nation’s morals. And he will fall in love—perhaps even with a number of his colleagues.

Vladimir Sorokin, the man described by Keith Gessen (in The New York Review of Books) as “[the] only real prose writer, and resident genius” of late-Soviet fiction, has imagined a near future both too disturbing to contemplate and too realistic to dismiss. But like all of his best work, Sorokin’s new novel explodes with invention and dark humor. A startling, relentless portrait of a troubled and troubling empire, Day of the Oprichnik is at once a richly imagined vision of the future and a razor-sharp diagnosis of a country in crisis.

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