Helen Oyeyemi’s amazing first novel, The Icarus Girl, blended African animism with Western psychology to tell the story of an alienated girl and her imaginary playmate. In her rich and startling third novel, the presiding spirits are many, from Ovid to Bluebeard, folktales to Cappelanus. The eponymous Mr. Fox (Riverhead, $25.95) is a writer. His chief creation, Mary Foxe, is also his muse and a personification of love. She wreaks havoc with Mr. Fox’s marriage, but his wife also comes to know and admire her. Together, these three figures make up the central cast of this elusive, shape-shifting fiction, the trio acting out various scenarios of courtship and marriage and generally aspiring to the condition of fairy tales, in which “everybody was in disguise, or on their way to becoming something else.” Fantastic but not whimsical, Oyeyemi’s narrative is grounded in the reality of human behavior as much as it is in dreams, her mix of magic and realism hewing to the laws of fairy tales which decree that “love could not prevail if the order of the tale didn’t wish it, and neither could hatred, nor grief, nor cunning.”

Mr. Fox Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781594488078
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - September 29th, 2011

Mr. Fox Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781594486180
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - November 6th, 2012

History is a staple of Irish fiction, and in On Canaan’s Side (Viking, $25.95), Sebastian Barry weaves Irish with American events for a deftly plotted, richly psychological narrative of the 20th century. Told by Lilly Dunne (sister of Willie from A Long, Long Way and the eponymous Annie Dunne) as she prepares to end her life at age 89, the novel intertwines the stories of her two marriages, their ends, and the fates of her son and grandson with the century’s many wars. From the Irish struggle for independence to the Second World War, from Vietnam to the first Gulf war, violence determined the course of Lilly’s life. Daughter of an officer for the British in Ireland and fiancée of another, she couldn’t escape the patriots’ wrath even by fleeing to America. Later she was unwittingly caught in the racism rampant in mid-century America. Reliving her many uprootings as she went from childhood in Dublin Castle to two unconventional widowhoods and a position as a live-in cook for a rich family in the Hamptons, Lilly is by turns heartbroken, angry, and practical. In Barry’s lyrical and evocative prose hers is a powerful saga.

On Canaan's Side: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143122180
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Books - August 28th, 2012

Without a doubt, State of Wonder (HarperCollins, $26.99), by Ann Patchett, is the book I enjoyed reading the most in 2011. For a bookseller, that’s a pretty bold statement. Open this novel and let Patchett’s beautiful, evocative writing take you far away to a place you probably never want to visit, the Brazilian rain forest.  It’s full of excessive heat, very large snakes, and a LOT of insects.  Nevertheless, our heroine, Marina, a research physician from Minnesota, goes there to bring back the body of her colleague.   He died mysteriously while on assignment for the drug company they both work for.   While there, she encounters her former mentor who is working on a very secret (and potentially lucrative) fertility drug.  We go with Marina from cold, desolate Minnesota to the sweaty depths of the rain forest as she uncovers truths, including her own. Patchett has a way of making every detail of Marina’s journey interesting and believable.  I couldn’t put it down.

State of Wonder: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062049810
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Harper Perennial - May 8th, 2012

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