The Scapegoat (Melville House, $24.95), by Sophia Nikolaidou, is a gem of a novel by one of Greece’s finest contemporary writers.  It begins with events surrounding the murder in 1948 of American journalist George Polk in Greece and the false conviction of a local journalist who confesses to the crime only after being tortured by Greek authorities. Told through the eyes of several generations of Greeks who are connected directly or tangentially to the murder, Nikolaidou’s narrative explores the often murky relationship between individuals and the state and draws uncanny parallels between postwar Greece and Greece today. The author’s story-telling is probing, sophisticated, at times humorous, and deeply humane. And the translation from Greek to English by Karen Emmerich is superb.

 

The Scapegoat: A Novel Cover Image
By Sophia Nikolaidou, Karen Emmerich (Translated by)
$24.95
ISBN: 9781612193847
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Melville House - February 3rd, 2015

With a journalist’s respect for facts and a novelist’s imagination, Geraldine Brooks has proven herself a master of historical fiction. She won the Pulitzer for March, her character study of the father in Alcott’s Little Women, and has vividly evoked the early United States in Caleb’s Crossing and told the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah in People of the Book. In her fifth novel, The Secret Chord (Viking, $27.95), Brooks takes the charismatic David of legend and gives us the flawed, contradictory man: this is David as viewed by the central figures in his life, including his wives, children, generals, and his greatest rival and friend, Jonathan. But the pivotal voice here is that of Nathan, who may in fact have chronicled the actual David. Though any Book of Nathan has long been lost, Brooks masterfully recreates what it might have told us. In the process she complicates received images of her subject, juxtaposing his violent acts with his capacity for benevolence, his artistic temperament with his ruthlessness. She also expands on the roles women played in his life, and delves into his emotional response to Jonathan’s death. Finally, Brooks underscores the significance of these ancient figures by following her compelling narrative with a personal note about what prompted her to write this novel in the first place.

The Secret Chord: A Novel Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780670025770
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Viking - October 6th, 2015

The Secret Chord: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143109761
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Books - October 4th, 2016

Call me David.  Well, no, don’t.  That would out me as a literary thief, like Oliver Otway Orme, the protagonist of John Banville’s new novel, The Blue Guitar (Knopf, $25.95). A renowned purloiner of literature himself—Banville steals his title from Wallace Stevens’s poem “The Man with the Blue Guitar,” and the opening line, “Call me Autolycus,” at once borrows from Moby-Dick and Greek mythology—the Man-Booker-winning novelist crafts a Joycean story about typical characters doing ordinary things—things like stealing. But when Orme takes works of art, he does it not for resale value but simply to see his act get noticed. He also steals his best friend’s wife, much as if she, too, were a museum piece. Along with Banville, Orme also enjoys the art of alliteration: “The objects, the artefacts, that I purloin—there is a nice word, prim and pursed,” or pounding the drumbeat of repetition:  “The past, the past. It was the past that brought me back here, for here . . . here it is forever the past.” Banville’s Orme is much like Autolycus, whose knack for stealing was put to the test when he made off with the helmet Odysseus uses to make himself invisible.  And, like the blue guitarist, Orme tries desperately to change things as they are.  Alas, he can’t.  Orme remains invisible, a thief unrevealed. For Banville, all this is an opportunity to do what he does best—indulge his love of language, and show off his unparalleled skill as not just a wordsmith, but a word wizard. 

The Blue Guitar Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780385354264
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 15th, 2015

The Blue Guitar (Vintage International) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780804173612
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - August 9th, 2016

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