The Marriage Portrait: Maggie O’Farrell

Review by Susan T. LandryPublished by Knopf and Headline Publishing Group I can't remember the exact circumstances that led me to plunge into Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet two years ago. I am a reasonably omnivorous reader, but rarely choose historical fiction when looking for a new book to get lost in. Not sure why, exactly; maybe …

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Nostalgia: Mircea Cărtărescu

Translated from Romanian by Julian SemilianPublished by Penguin This collection of three short stories and two novellas, set mainly in Bucharest, was written during Nicolae Ceaușescu’s regime and published in 1989, the year his regime fell. Nostalgia was originally published under the title Visul ("The Dream"), which seems appropriate: the pieces are fairly dreamlike and …

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The Eighth Detective: Alex Pavesi

Published by Picador and Michael Joseph (also published as The Eight Detectives) An editor goes to a remote Mediterranean island to meet a reclusive writer, whose book her publisher wants to reprint. In 1937, Grant McAllister drew up a set of mathematical rules for a murder mystery, and wrote seven stories to illustrate these rules. …

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Older Brother: Daniel Mella

Translated from Spanish by Megan McDowellPublished by Charco Press In the summer of 2014, during one of the biggest storms to hit the coast of Uruguay, Alejandro is killed in a lightning strike. Ale, as he was known, was aware that there was an electrical storm brewing. He worked as a lifeguard and knew how …

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Lagos Noir: Chris Abani (ed.)

Published by Akashic Books and Cassava Republic Press “Lagos never sleeps. Ever. It stays awake long after New York has faded in a long drawn-out yawn, matched only by the vigil of Cairo. ... “By the way a man sits smoking on the hood of his burned-out Mercedes-Benz, it is clear he wants you to …

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At Night We Walk in Circles: Daniel Alarcón

Published by Fourth Estate Things are not going well for Nelson. His girlfriend Ixta has left him, and his acting career is floundering. His older brother has moved to the United States, promising to help Nelson move there, but has made no attempt to start the process. So when Nelson’s hero, the playwright Henry Nuñez, …

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The Devil’s Company: David Liss

Published by Ballantine Books This is a gripping story set in 18th century London. Thief-taker[1] Benjamin Weaver is asked by a mysterious man called Cobb to carry out a dangerous assignment. When Weaver declines, Cobb resorts to other means. He threatens three people close to Weaver with destitution unless Weaver agrees to Cobb’s demands. Weaver’s …

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The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: Michael Chabon

Published by HarperCollins “Nine months Landsman’s been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered. Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208...” The year is 1998. When, after World War II, plans to create a homeland for Jews in Palestine …

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Nightwoods: Charles Frazier

Published by Hodder & Stoughton and Random House “Luce’s new stranger children were small and beautiful and violent.” “Nothing changes what already happened. It will always have happened. You either let it break you down or you don't.” Luce is the caretaker of an almost abandoned lodge in a forest by a lake, near the …

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The Silence of the Rain: Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Translated from Portuguese by Benjamin MoserPublished by Picador Ricardo Carvalho, a well-to-do executive, gets into his car in a multistoried car park in Rio de Janeiro, smokes a cigarette and then shoots himself. He leaves behind a gun, a briefcase, 20,000 dollars and a note to the police.  The note says that Ricardo wants the …

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