Fiction Favorites

Deacon King Kong: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735216723
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Riverhead Books - March 3rd, 2020

James McBride, who won the National Book Award for his 2013 novel, The Good Lord Bird, is unique among contemporary writers of fiction for the singular humanity he brings to his characters. In Deacon King Kong (Riverhead, $28), built around Sportcoat, a beloved figure in a New York City housing project, McBride tours a landscape of race, politics, class, ethnicity, and social change with such acute sensibility that the reader feels thoroughly absorbed in the complications and contradictions inherent in the story’s place and time. Just as comedians are often the best truth-tellers, McBride edges close to farce in Deacon King Kong, using humor as he often does to expose deeper, painful realities about a world in transition. Bottom line: McBride does not disappoint. Lissa Muscatine

Jack (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374279301
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 29th, 2020

Jack (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27) is the latest installment in Marilynne Robinson‘s Gilead series and, like its three predecessors, it is an astounding work of fiction. The eponymous Jack is the son of the Reverend John Ames, the principal character in Gilead, Home, and Lila; Jack makes a fleeting appearance when he returns to Gilead in Home, but this is the first time Robinson tells his story. A bit of a prodigal son, Jack is a petty thief, an alcoholic, and a vagrant, among other things. His life changes when he falls in love with Della Miles, a Black woman and like Jack, the child of a preacher—one from Memphis, Tennessee. Unfolding in the mid-1950s, their inter-racial relationship is controversial, especially for Della’s family; all in all, this transcendent novel explores the intricacies of race, of love, of family, of religion, of poetry. Mark Laframboise

The Lying Life of Adults Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translator)
ISBN: 9781609455910
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Europa Editions - September 1st, 2020

One of the publishing events of the season, Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults (Europa, $26) tells the story of Giovanna, a girl negotiating the perils of adolescence, while the adults in her life continually let her down. In Naples, a city divided by class and economic status, Giovanna contends with her parents’ duplicity and her Aunt Vittoria’s eccentricity and vitriol. Roberto, her good friend’s fiancé, is her first love and the only one she knows who appreciates her intellect. When she has an opportunity to betray her friend and be with him, she begins to understand how adults can be that deceitful. The Lying Life of Adults is intensely personal; Giovanna’s world, the perspective of a fifteen-year-old-Italian girl, is intimately explored. Mark Laframboise

Transcendent Kingdom: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525658184
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - September 1st, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom (Knopf, $27.95), Yaa Gyasi’s follow-up to her acclaimed Homegoing, follows Gifty, a PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford School of Medicine, where she researches the “neural circuits of reward-seeking behavior” by hooking mice on Ensure, then withholding it to observe the lengths they go to get the addictive drink back. These experiments are informed by Gifty’s difficult early years: when she was four, her immigrant father left Alabama to return to Ghana. Later, her fifteen-year-old brother overdosed on heroin, sending her mother—a determined woman given to working twelve hours a day, six days a week (saving Sunday for God)—into a deep depression. While Gifty becomes an American scientist and her mother plunges into Ghanaian evangelicalism, the two are bound by their losses, and from their different responses to pain, Gyasi has constructed a deeply intimate, philosophical novel, one that journeys through addiction, loss, and heartbreak and emerges unequivocally triumphant. Gibs Ramm

Utopia Avenue: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812997439
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Random House - July 14th, 2020

Fans of the David Mitchell universe will delight in revisiting old friends from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and The Bone Clocks, but don’t worry if you’re new to his world, he’ll hook you with his lyrically propulsive prose and genius storytelling. Utopia Avenue (Random House, $30) takes us to the seedy clubs of late ‘60s London to meet handsome Dean Moss, a down-on-his-luck blues bass guitarist; the guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet; jazz drummer Griff Griffin; and ethereal folk singer Elf Holloway. Together they form Utopia Avenue, a psychedelic-folk-rock band that defies genre—just like Mitchell's writing. The group’s journey takes them from London to Amsterdam to one near-catastrophic stop in Rome, then across the Atlantic to their lifechanging coast-to-coast American tour. This trip is a wild one filled with music, magic, and rock star cameos: Elf gets advice from Janis Joplin, Gerry Garcia supplies the drugs, and Jasper teaches Gene Clark of the Byrds the F major seventh. In the end it’s a beautifully written story about how we exorcise our demons, find our truth, and connect in this world. Jen McDivitt

The Vanishing Half: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525536291
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Riverhead Books - June 2nd, 2020

Brit Bennett, author of the bestselling The Mothers, dazzles us once again with her second novel, The Vanishing Half (Riverhead, $27). Spanning decades, the book tells the story of Desiree and Stella Vignes, twin sisters who are inseparable as children but whose lives veer in opposite directions as Stella decides to run away from her past and hide her Blackness to live in the white world. Desiree lives as a Black woman, and many years after the sisters’ separation, their grown daughters meet by chance. As the cousins discover their family ties, worlds come crashing down. Bennett grapples masterfully with issues of race, family, and love that will leave you with your heart aching and unable to put the book down. A story of sisterhood, love, and the inescapable toll of racism on a family, The Vanishing Half speaks to our times. The characters are so unique and beautifully developed that you won’t want to leave them behind. Michaela Cohen-Fuentes