Her Fearful Symmetry (Simon & Schuster, $26.99) opens with intrigue—furtive actions, a private eye, secretive correspondence, an inheritance, and a haunting love story. The protagonists are two historians working at Highgate Cemetery in London (and therefore on intimate terms with the dead) and two young, creepily codependent twin sisters. But lest you think of the syrupy movie Ghost, the delicate unfolding of this paranormal mystery is like petals opening on a dark rose. As in her equally successful forays into imagined realities, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Three Incestuous Sisters, Audrey Niffenegger demonstrates her talent for exploring her characters’ complex and selfish motivations, and their unconscious manipulations in pursuit of their desires.
Every few years the Booker Prize panel chooses an unexpected winner. With The White Tiger (Simon & Schuster, $14, paper; $24, hardcover), business-journalist-turned-novelist Aravind Adiga offers an unconventional get-rich-quick manual and guide to liberating the mind for the politically and economically oppressed lower-caste of India; his narrator’s insights are the ultimate appeal of this darkly honest tale of a self-made man. Born impoverished and therefore hungry, Balram Halwai has an eye for observing society and an ear for gossip, and he uses his resourcefulness to educate himself about the world and elevate himself in Indian business. Shrewdly sycophantic and connivingly opportunistic, Balram twists his way through corrupt and caste-driven Delhi. Is he amoral or merely adaptive in his quest for mental and economic freedom? Aravind Adiga offers a beguilingly seductive anti-hero for this new century of globalization.