Category Archives: Contemporary

Winter

The second book in Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet is, like Autumn, a novel that is more contemplative than plotty. There is a story, a somewhat more eventful one than in Autumn, but the novel is mostly about how the characters are coping with … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 6 Comments

In the Woods

I’ve been slow to read Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, not because I didn’t think I’d enjoy them but because I really didn’t want a new series to read. But since I’ve finished the Patrick O’Brian books, that’s less … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Mysteries/Crime | 15 Comments

Signs of Life

Ten years ago, in her twenties, Rachel was in a long-term relationship: “no ruptures, no wrinkles, we were happy.” Then she had an affair with a man at work, someone rougher and more dangerous than her boyfriend Johnny, and it … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 4 Comments

Goodbye, Vitamin

 As this novel by Rachel Khong begins, it’s Christmas, and Ruth is spending her first Christmas in years with her family. Her fiancé has recently dumped her for another woman, and she’s been bouncing from one relationship to another. And … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 4 Comments

Her Body and Other Parties

It’s hard for me to describe how much I enjoyed this book — how much this book was completely and totally up my alley — because the alley is kind of… specific. Does it bother authors when they get compared … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Speculative Fiction | 6 Comments

Await Your Reply

I didn’t know what to expect from this book when I picked it up. I went through nearly a decade believing that Dan Chaon wrote horror novels, and then I saw that he’d won a Pushcart Prize and had been … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 8 Comments

American Street

Fabiola was born in the US, but has grown up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, all her life. Now she and her mother are returning to the US, hoping for la belle vie — the good life. But despite preparing all their … Continue reading

Posted in Children's / YA Lit, Contemporary, Fiction | 2 Comments

The Boat Rocker

I picked Ha Jin’s The Boat Rocker off the library shelf on a whim, something I rarely do these days. It turned out to be a short whirlwind of a book, exploring ideas of national identity, patriotism, free speech, fraud, … Continue reading

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Home Fire

Kamila Shamsie’s gut-punching update of the story of Antigone is all about competing loyalties. There’s loyalty to family, to country, to faith, to moral principles, to the law, to love. These loyalties are in tension, and each character balances those … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 6 Comments

Autumn

I’m tired of the news. I’m tired of the way it makes things spectacular that aren’t, and deals so simplistically with what’s truly appalling. I’m tired of the vitriol. I’m tired of the anger. I’m tired of the meanness. I’m … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 14 Comments