Jun 1, 2010
Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris - Leanne Shapton
Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books, street fashion, and jewelry - Shapton, Leanne
Summary: The story of a romantic relationship is told in the form of a catalog from the auction of objects previously owned by the fictional couple.
The New York Times
“Taken together, the item descriptions provide a running, cumulative portrait of one couple’s glorious rise and deflating fall. . . For people who have ever thought that the little gestures, tokens and inside jokes of their relationships were unique to them, Ms. Shapton’s book comes as a poignant, jarring reminder of the sameness of the steps that so many couples retrace. . . Despite the mist of melancholy that floats amid this photographic record, there is also humor, caprice, knowingness and the implicit suggestion that changing feelings and fading possessions can’t rob a true romance of the value it had at its height. As Lenore and Hal’s remembrances show, a love affair is worth more than its trappings could fetch at a jumble sale.” —Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times
The song is you: a novel - Phillips, Arthur
Summary: Behind his hipness and attitude, Julian Donahue is going through an emotional crisis that started when his two-year-old son died of a freak infection. His wife, Rachel, reacted by vigorously cheating on him; Julian, meanwhile, went impotent. But his potency returns one night in his Brooklyn apartment as he listens to a CD by rising Irish singer-starlet Cait O'Dwyer. As his interest in her music and career grows into a full-blown obsession, Julian meets washed-up rocker-turned-painter Alec Stamford (who harbors a few of his own bizarre yearnings), and Julian is propelled to do more than mill around in the back of crowds at Cait's performances.
A betrayed husband's fascination with a charismatic singer is given several intriguing twists in this subtle fourth novel from the versatile Phillips (Angelica, 2007, etc.).As he did in his widely praised debut novel Prague, Phillips focuses microscopic attention on the intellectual keenness and emotional vulnerability of each of his straying, struggling principal characters. Foremost are reluctantly aging director of TV commercials Julian Donahue, still sunk in grieving over his two-year-old son's death from a mysterious infection; Julian's estranged wife Rachel, whose own sorrows have steered her into promiscuity; and rising musical star Cait O'Dwyer, a bewitching Irish beauty who has become the darling of dimly lit jazz clubs and college campuses, and whose smoky sensuality brings back to Julian the vocal witchcraft practiced by Billie Holiday in her heyday. The simplicity of the tensions thus created is then skillfully complicated, as Phillips juxtaposes Julian's convoluted self-justifying fixation ("He could believe, with Cait in his life, that he could be free and tethered, young and old, joyful and mourning, forgiven") with a trenchant objective analysis of both his conflicted youth (among a loving and judgmental family) and his destroyed marriage. Whenever we expect it to suffocate in solipsism, this novel's scope instead widens. Intriguing parts are played by the footloose members of Cait's touring band, a sinister rock star turned painter (Alec Stamford) and Julian's older brother Aidan, an autodidact underachiever whose many failures are crowned by his embarrassing appearance on Jeopardy (from which, as it happens, author Phillips retired as an undefeated champion). The problem is Cait, whose ostensibly irresistible allure is never fully convincing; no more so, in fact, than is her reputation as a soulful songwriter—who, for example, rhymes "keep your distance…[with] don't leave a witness."Still, the novel's clashing harmonies seduce and fascinate. And Phillips still looks like the best American novelist to have emerged during the present decade. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Somewhere inside: one sister's captivity in North Korea and the other's fight to bring her home – Laura Ling
Somewhere inside: one sister's captivity in North Korea and the other's fight to bring her home - Ling, Laura
Summary: Presents an account that alternates between Laura Ling's experiences as a captive within the prison system of the North Korea, one of the world's most reclusive nations, and journalist Lisa Ling's efforts to have her sister released. - (Baker & Taylor)
*Starred Review* In 2009, Laura Ling, a reporter with Current TV, traveled with a film crew to the region of China that bordered on North Korea to report on defections, particularly of women who were later forced into arranged marriages or sex slavery. The crew momentarily crossed into North Korea, and Ling and Euna Lee, her editor and translator, were captured. Given the hostilities between North Korea and China and a recent critical documentary on North Korea by Laura's sister, journalist Lisa Ling, the women knew they were in for an ordeal. Laura was beaten during the capture, and the women were held in isolation and faced meager meals, cold, and little medical treatment. In the U.S., Lisa and her family prayed and called on powerful contacts, including Al Gore and Bill Richardson, to win the women's release. During the time of their captivity, North Korea conducted a nuclear test and fired off missiles, increasing tensions with the U.S. and UN. The women were eventually tried for attempting to overthrow the government and sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp, but through behind-the-scenes maneuvering and negotiations with prickly North Korea, they were finally released after five months in captivity. This memoir alternates between the sisters, with Laura recalling the escalating peril of her capture and imprisonment and Lisa recalling heightened worries as weeks dragged into months. A riveting story of captivity and the enduring faith, determination, and love of two sisters. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
The elegance of the hedgehog - Barbery, Muriel
Summary: The lives of fifty-four-year-old concierge Rene Michel and extremely bright, suicidal twelve-year-old Paloma Josse are transformed by the arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu.
The second novel (but first to be published in the United States) from France-based author Barbery teaches philosophical lessons by shrewdly exposing rich secret lives hidden beneath conventional exteriors.Renée Michel has been the concierge at an apartment building in Paris for 27 years. Uneducated, widowed, ugly, short and plump, she looks like any other French apartment-house janitor, but Mme Michel is by no means what she seems. A "proletarian autodidact," she has broad cultural appetites—for the writings of Marx and Kant, the novels of Tolstoy, the films of Ozu and Wenders. She ponders philosophical questions and holds scathing opinions about some of the wealthy tenants of the apartments she maintains, but she is careful to keep her intelligence concealed, having learned from her sister's experience the dangers of using her mind in defiance of her class. Similarly, 12-year-old Paloma Josse, daughter of one of the well-connected tenant families, shields her erudition, philosophical inclinations, criticism—and also her dreams of suicide. But when a new Japanese tenant, Kakuro Ozu, moves in, everything changes for both females. He detects their intelligence and invites them into his cultured life. Curious and deeply fulfilling friendships blossom among the three, offering Paloma and Renée freedom from the mental prisons confining them.With its refined taste and political perspective, this is an elegant, light-spirited and very European adult fable. Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
The Neddiad - Pinkwater, Daniel Manus
Summary: When shoelace heir Neddie Wentworthstein and his family take the train from Chicago to Los Angeles in the 1940s, he winds up in possession of a valuable Indian turtle artifact whose owner is supposed to be able to prevent the impending destruction of the world, but he is not sure exactly how.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
The story is a nostalgic, oddball sightseeing trip through late 1940s Los Angeles. On his family's trip west, Neddie meets part-time Navajo shaman Melvin, who gives him a stone turtle that can save civilization. The narrative's relaxed pace leaves ample room for affectionate descriptions. Readers will be drawn into Pinkwater's portrait of old Hollywood, embellished with loopy supernatural intrigue. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
The girl with the dragon tattoo, The girl who played with fire, The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest – Steig Larsson
The girl with the dragon tattoo, The girl who played with fire, The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest - Larsson, Steig
Series Title: The Millennium Series
The girl with the dragon tattoo
"The disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden, gnaws at her octogenarian uncle, Henrik Vanger. He is determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder. He hires crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, recently at the wrong end of a libel case, to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance. Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old, pierced, tattooed genius hacker, possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age--and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness--assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, an astonishing corruption at the highest echelon of Swedish industrialism--and a surprising connection between themselves."--From publisher description.
The girl who played with fire
On the eve of publisher Mikael Blomkvist's story about sex trafficking between Eastern Europe and Sweden, two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Mikael Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander--the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid years before.
The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest
While recovering in the hospital, Lisbeth Salander enlists the aid of journalist Mikael Blomkvist to prove her innocent of three murders and identify the corrupt politicians who have allowed her to suffer, and, on her own, Lisbeth plots revenge against the man who tried to kill her. By the best-selling author of The Girl Who Played With Fire. - (Baker & Taylor)
Library Journal Reviews
Ever since Knopf editor Sonny Mehta bought the U.S. rights last November, the prepublication buzz on this dark, moody crime thriller by a Swedish journalist has grown steadily. A best seller in Europe (it outsold the Bible in Denmark), this first entry in the "Millennium" trilogy finally lands in America. Is the hype justified? Yes. Despite a sometimes plodding translation and a few implausible details, this complex, multilayered tale, which combines an intricate financial thriller with an Agatha Christie-like locked-room mystery set on an island, grabs the reader from the first page. Convicted of libeling a prominent businessman and awaiting imprisonment, financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist agrees to industrialist Henrik Vanger's request to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of Vanger's 16-year-old niece, Harriet. In return, Vanger will help Blomkvist dig up dirt on the corrupt businessman. Assisting in Blomkvist's investigation is 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but enigmatic computer hacker. Punkish, tattooed, sullen, antisocial, and emotionally damaged, she is a compelling character, much like Carol O'Connell's Kathy Mallory, and this reviewer looks forward to learning more of her backstory in the next two books (The Girl Who Played with Fire and Castles in the Sky ). Sweden may be the land of blondes, Ikea, and the Midnight Sun, but Larsson, who died in 2004, brilliantly exposes its dark heart: sexual violence against women, a Nazi past, and corporate corruption. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/03.]—Wilda Williams, Library Journal
California native plants for the garden - Bornstein, Carol
Summary: California Native Plants for the Garden is a comprehensive resource that features more than 500 of the best California native plants for gardening in Mediterranean-climate areas of the world. Authored by three of the state's leading native-plant horticulturists and illustrated with 450 color photos, this reference book also includes chapters on landscape design, installation, and maintenance. Detailed lists of recommended native plants for a variety of situations and appendices with information on places to see native plants and where to buy them are also provided.
Sunset Magazine Review
This guidebook . . . is both practical and inspirational. Lovingly detailed plant profiles . . . make you covet each species. -- Sunset Magazine, April 2006
Birdology : Lessons from a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaur - Montgomery, Sy
Summary: Combines popular science with personal anecdotes as the author describes her encounters with a range of avian personalities from various parts of the world. - (Baker & Taylor)
This terrific book, by the same author as "The good, good, pig", was fascinating. Who knew that when I'm feeding jays peanuts by hand that I actually have a dinosaur in my hand! Sy Montgomery is a fantastic naturalist who has been researching her subject since childhood, and shares with us her amazing knowledge.
Tattoos on the heart: the power of boundless compassion - Boyle, Greg
Summary: A Jesuit priest shares anecdotes from his life of working in broken-down urban areas with underprivileged children, describing how he helped them to find faith and embrace such values as patience, self-worth, and kinship.
This book moved me so much. Father Greg Boyle works with Mexican-American gang members in East Los Angeles who are out of prison and out of choices. He started Homeboy Industries to give these young men and women a place to work and thrive. The story of tragedies and triumphs of these young people had me crying and laughing, sometimes within the same page.
Prep: a novel - Sittenfeld, Curtis
Summary: During the late 1980s, fourteen-year-old Lee Fiora leaves behind her close-knit, middle-class Indiana family to enroll in an elite co-ed boarding school in Massachusetts, becoming a shrewd observer of, and eventually a participant in, their rituals and customs. - (Baker & Taylor)
Lee Fiora is a teen from South Bend, Indiana, attending the high-status Ault School on scholarship. Ault's well-heeled student body includes some familiar figures—a Barbie-ish blonde (named, affluently enough, Aspeth Montgomery), a hunky basketball star and a lonely gay student—but Sittenfeld's novel is more than a collection of stereotypes. With this unique and powerful coming-of-age novel, she tells the tale of an outsider who learns as she goes along how to cope in an unfamiliar world. Lee's decidedly middle-class upbringing is revealed when her mother and father arrive at the school for Parents' Weekend in their shabby old Datsun. The weekend proves a catastrophic one for the humiliated Lee, providing her with a new perspective on the way families work. When she becomes involved with basketball hero Cross Sugarman, the experience is not quite as grand as Lee imagined. The growing pains set in as—through various friendships and romances—Lee comes into her own. As a narrator, she is endearing and awkward, with her own idiosyncrasies and obsessions, and the reader is drawn to her—a loner in a world of wealth and social status. Sittenfeld's portrayal of this sensitive, tormented youth has won her comparisons to J.D. Salinger. Prep is a witty and wise debut novel that perfectly captures the essence of adolescence, but goes beyond the teen experience to encompass larger themes like identity and family. A reading group guide is available online at www.randomhouse.com. Copyright 2005 BookPage Reviews.
When you are engulfed in flames - Sedaris, David
Summary: "Once again, David Sedaris brings together a collection of essays so uproariously funny and profoundly moving that his legions of fans will fall for him once more. He tests the limits of love when Hugh lances a boil from his backside, and pushes the boundaries of laziness when, finding the water shut off in his house in Normandy, he looks to the water in a vase of fresh cut flowers to fill the coffee machine. From armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds to the awkwardness of having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a sleeping fellow passenger on a plane, David Sedaris uses life's most bizarre moments to reach new heights in understanding love and fear, family and strangers. Culminating in a brilliantly funny account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris's sixth essay collection will be avidly anticipated."--From publisher description.
With essay collections such as Naked (1997) and Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Sedaris kicked the door down for the "quirky memoir" genre and left it open for writers like Augusten Burroughs and Jeannette Walls to mosey on through. Sometimes the originators of a certain trend in literature are surpassed by their own disciples—but, this is Sedaris we're talking about. When it comes to fashioning the sardonic wisecrack, the humiliating circumstance, and the absurdist fantasy, there's nobody better. Unfortunately, being in a league of your own often means competing with yourself. This latest collection of 22 essays proves that not only does Sedaris still have it, but he's also getting better. True, the terrain is familiar. The essays "Old Faithful" and "That's Amore" again feature Sedaris' overly competent boyfriend, Hugh. And nutty sister Amy can be found leafing through bestial pornography in "Town and Country." Present also are Sedaris' favored topics: death, compulsion, unwanted sexual advances, corporal decay, and more death. Nevertheless, Sedaris' best stuff will still—after all this time—move, surprise, and entertain. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Darkly dreaming Dexter: a novel - Jeffry, Lindsay P.
Series Title: Dexter
Summary: Hiding a secret life as an assassin while working as a murder analyst for the Miami police, Dexter Morgan is intrigued by the work of a new serial killer whose style mimics his own.
/*Starred Review*/ After finishing this debut novel, readers will have only one thing to say: wow! This is a mystery about the efforts of the Miami police to capture a serial killer who cuts up the bodies of his victims. One police officer, Deborah Morgan, is hoping that her participation in the investigation will help her make the leap from Vice to Homicide. Meanwhile, her adopted brother, Dexter, a blood-spatter expert who works for the police department, feeds her information about the case that he hopes will help her. Oh, and did we say that Dexter narrates the novel? And did we mention that Dexter is also a serial killer? (But not the serial killer his sister is trying to catch.) Dexter, a likable fellow on the surface, firmly in touch with his own inhumanity, is one of the genre's most original, compelling characters to appear in years. He makes a fascinating narrator, appealing, articulate, and ghoulish all at the same time. He is probably not the type of guy you could build a series around, but, oh boy, does he make an impression. Long after readers finish this gripping novel, they will still be thinking (or dreaming) about Dexter. ((Reviewed May 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Shark's fin and Sichuan pepper: a sweet-sour memoir of eating in China - Dunlop, Fuchsia.
Summary: Award-winning food writer Fuchsia Dunlop went to live in China as a student in 1994, and from the very beginning she vowed to eat everything she was offered, no matter how alien and bizarre it seemed. In this extraordinary memoir, Fuchsia recalls her evolving relationship with China and its food, from her first rapturous encounter with the delicious cuisine of Sichuan Province to brushes with corruption, environmental degradation, and greed. In the course of her fascinating journey, Fuchsia undergoes an apprenticeship at China's premier Sichuan cooking school, where she is the only foreign student in a class of nearly fifty young Chinese men; attempts, hilariously, to persuade Chinese people that "Western food" is neither "simple" nor "bland"; and samples a multitude of exotic ingredients, including sea cucumber, civet cat, scorpion, rabbit-heads, and the ovarian fat of the snow frog. But is it possible for a Westerner to become a true convert to the Chinese way of eating? In an encounter with a caterpillar in an Oxford kitchen, Fuchsia is forced to put this to the test.
From the vibrant markets of Sichuan to the bleached landscape of northern Gansu Province, from the desert oases of Xinjiang to the enchanting old city of Yangzhou, this unique and evocative account of Chinese culinary culture is set to become the most talked-about travel narrative of the year.
- (Norton Pub)
What's on the menu
No report on modern-day China would be complete without at least a look at Chinese cuisine. Of course, everyone in the West is familiar with the staples: egg rolls, sweet and sour pork, General Tso's chicken and egg foo young. Less known are such culinary delights as red-braised bear paw, dried orangutan lips (I am not making this up), camel hump and the ovarian fat of the Chinese forest frog. For a historical (and often hysterical) glimpse at these and other fascinating facets of Chinese cooking, look no further than Fuchsia Dunlop's Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, a tale of travel in modern China, with appended recipes for meals that tend more toward the delicious end of Chinese cuisine spectrum, rather than, say, the aforementioned orangutan lips. Dunlop's writing style is conversational and engaging, and she poses several perplexing questions (for instance, when she inadvertently cooks a caterpillar along with some homegrown veggies in England, should she eat it, as she has done many times in China, or shiver in revulsion, as befits her upbringing?). Copyright 2008 BookPage Reviews.
Batman. The killing joke. - Moore, Alan
Summary: "One bad day. According to the grinning engine of madness and mayhem known as The Joker, that's all that separates the sane from the psychotic. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, he's out to prove his deranged point. And he's going to use Gotham's top cop, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant and beautiful daughter Barbara to do it. Now Batman must race to stop his archnemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight's closest friends. Can he finally put an end to the cycle of bloodlust and lunacy that links thes two iconic foes before it leads to a fatal conclusion? And as the horrifying origin of the Clown Prince of Crime is finally revealed, will the thin line that separates Batman's nobility and The Joker's insanity snap once and for all? ''--Dust jacket.
Library Journal Reviews
This classic, infamous story in the Batman saga has been recolored with a more effectively cooler palette and set into context with an introduction and an afterword. Escaped from Arkham Asylum, villain deluxe Joker shoots Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon as part of his plan to drive her police commissioner father insane. Intending to prove that anyone can go mad after "one bad day" as he describes in his putative origin story, the Joker also kidnaps and torments Commissioner Gordon. But Gordon remains sane, and Batman recaptures the Joker—the two actually share a laugh at the ambiguous ending. With Barbara Gordon now a paraplegic, the story stands as a chilling profile of madness. The Killing Joke provoked fury among many readers who lamented the disposal of Barbara Gordon as a mere pawn to testosterone; yet Gordon reinvents herself later as superinfohacker Oracle, poster girl for disability empowerment (see Birds of Prey, LJ 7/08). A bonus story at the end paints the quieter, equally chilling madness of a Batman fan fantasizing about killing the superhero—a perfect foil for the publicly gaudy Joker. For adult collections.—M.C.
[Page 41]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Handle with care - Picoult, Jodi
Summary: After her daughter contracts a fatal disease, Charlotte O'Keefe must confront some serious questions that ultimately lead to one final epiphany: what constitutes a valuable life.
Picoult has carved an impressive niche in the topical family drama genre, tackling medical ethics, faith, and the law in her sixteenth novel. Charlotte and Sean O Keefe are the parents of Willow, six, who has brittle-bone disease, suffering 68 broken bones in her short lifetime, including 7 before she was born. Charlotte gave up her job as a successful pastry chef to care for Willow full time, doing whatever she can to prevent the inevitable breaks and trying to lessen Willow s discomfort when they occur. After a lawyer broaches the possibility of a wrongful-birth lawsuit, which would find Charlotte s ob-gyn (also her best friend) guilty of failing to diagnose Willow s illness early enough for a possible abortion, the family unravels. Charlotte becomes increasingly aggressive in her new attack mode; Sean disagrees with the lawsuit and files for divorce; and Amelia, Willow s teenage half sister, seeks attention by becoming bulimic and cutting herself. In her customary fashion, Picoult probes these sensitive issues with empathy and compassion. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Playing the enemy: Nelson Mandela and the game that made a nation - Carlin, John
Summary: In 1985, Nelson Mandela, then in prison for 23 years, set about winning over the fiercest proponents of apartheid, from his jailers to the head of South Africa's military. First he earned his freedom and then he won the presidency in the nation's first free election in 1994. But he knew that South Africa was still dangerously divided. If he couldn't unite his country in a visceral, emotional way--and fast--it would collapse into chaos. He would need all the charisma and strategic acumen he had honed during half a century of activism, and he'd need a cause all South Africans could share. Mandela picked one of the more farfetched causes imaginable--the national rugby team, the Springboks, who would host the sport's World Cup in 1995. Author Carlin, former South Africa bureau chief for the London Independent, offers a portrait of the greatest statesman of our time in action.--From publisher description.
*Starred Review* Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a South African prison because of his position as the military leader of the African National Congress, the leading anti-apartheid organization. Amazingly, while inside, he actually increased his influence as a resistance leader. In 1994, after his release, he was elected South Africa's president in the country's first free election. Realizing that his new government was on tenuous ground and could disintegrate at any moment, he sought a symbolic moment that would unite the black citizenry with white Afrikaners and hit upon the idea of South Africa hosting rugby's first World Cup. The first step was to convince South Africa's national team—the Springboks—to get aboard. Mandela's charm, determination, and patriotism won them over to the point that the team wound up singing the national anthem of the black resistance movement in a much-replayed television spot. Improbably, Springbok—once the sporting symbol of Afrikaner dominance and arrogance—advanced to the cup finals, gathering more fans, black and white, with each win. Carlin, former U.S. bureau chief for the Independent, was assigned to South Africa during the transition from white to majority rule. He personally interviewed most of the principals involved in this fascinating story and undertook the project with Mandela's blessing. A new slant on the familiar but always inspiring saga of Mandela's rise to power. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
And another thing: Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, part six of three - Colfer, Eoin
Series Title: The Hitchhiker Series
Summary: In this sixth installment of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, Arthur Dent has finally made it home to Earth, only to discover that it is about to be blown up ... again. What could a pantheon of unemployed gods, everyone's favorite renegade Galactic President, a lovestruck green alien, an irritating computer, and at least one very large slab of cheese have to do with all of this?
Fans of the Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's series have reason to celebrate : Eoin Colfer has taken over and has released a 6th installment to the trilogy. As a fan of the original, I can tell you it's hilarious and it has the silliness and feel of the universe Douglas Adams created. So grab your towel and enjoy!
The white tiger: a novel - Adiga, Aravind
Summary: Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life--having nothing but his own wits to help him along.
What makes an entrepreneur in today's India? Bribes and murder, says this fiercely satirical first novel. Balram Halwai is a thriving young entrepreneur in Bangalore, India's high-tech capital. China's Premier is set to visit, and the novel's frame is a series of Balram's letters to the Premier, in which he tells his life story. Balram sees India as two countries: the Light and the Darkness. Like the huddled masses, he was born in the Darkness, in a village where his father, a rickshaw puller, died of tuberculosis. But Balram is smart, as a school inspector notices, and he is given the moniker White Tiger. Soon after, he's pulled out of school to work in a tea shop, then manages to get hired as a driver by the Stork, one of the village's powerful landlords. Balram is on his way, to Delhi in fact, where the Stork's son, Mr. Ashok, lives with his Westernized wife, Pinky Madam. Ashok is a gentleman, a decent employer, though Balram will eventually cut his throat (an early revelation). His business (coal trading) involves bribing government officials with huge sums of money, the sight of which proves irresistible to Balram and seals Ashok's fate. Adiga, who was born in India in 1974, writes forcefully about a corrupt culture; unfortunately, his commentary on all things Indian comes at the expense of narrative suspense and character development. Thus he writes persuasively about the so-called Rooster Coop, which traps family-oriented Indians into submissiveness, but fails to describe the stages by which Balram evolves from solicitous servant into cold-blooded killer. Adiga's pacing is off too, as Balram too quickly reinvents himself in Bangalore, where every cop can be bought. An undisciplined debut, but one with plenty of vitality.Agent: Cathryn Summerhouse/William Morris Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Snow country - Kawabata, Yasunari
Summary: To this haunting novel of wasted love, Kawabata brings the brushstroke suggestiveness and astonishing grasp of motive that earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature. As he chronicles the affair between a wealthy dilettante and the mountain geisha who gives herself to him without illusions or regrets, one of Japan's greatest writers creates a work that is dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.
No Review Available
The lacuna: a novel - Kingsolver, Barbara
Summary: "The story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds--Mexico and the United States in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s--and whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the twentieth century's most tumultuous events"--Provided by publisher.
In her first novel in nine years, Kingsolver displays the same ambition she exhibited in her best-selling The Poisonwood Bible (1998). Moving her story between Mexico and the U.S. and covering some 20 years in the life of Harrison William Shepherd, born to a social-climbing Mexican mother and an emotionally distant American father, who eventually divorce, Kingsolver weaves in pointed social commentary on dark moments in the history of both countries. Zelig-like, Shepherd is present at disturbing yet key historical events, including the violent 1933 Bonus March in Washington, D.C. Kicked out of a military academy for a homosexual liaison, Shepherd returns to Mexico; is taken into the household of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and the exiled Leon Trotsky; and witnesses Trotsky's assassination. He eventually settles in Asheville, North Carolina, becoming well known as an author of historical fiction and coming to the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee for his leftist leanings. Kingsolver packs her novel with rich detail on everything from underwater caves to the proper way to mix the plaster Rivera uses in his murals, relaying information through a pastiche of letters, newspaper excerpts, and diary entries. As a result, the novel can be slow going, but the final section, devoted to the loving if platonic relationship between Shepherd and his dedicated stenographer, builds to a stunningly moving coda, conveying the tender emotions between two outsiders who have created their own sanctuary in the face of a hostile mainstream culture. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Possession - Byatt, A.S.
Summary: A young academic couple's attempt to trace the relationship between two turbulent, romantic, and superstitious Victorian poets reveals uncanny parallels with their own lives and culminates in the exhumation of a poet's corpse - (Baker & Taylor)
Library Journal Reviews
The latest novel by the author of Still Life ( LJ 11/15/85) is as sumptuous as brandy-soaked Christmas fruitcake, dense with intrigue, beguiling characters, and a double-edged romance that bridges Victorian England and modern-day academia. At once literary and highly readable, the book boasts a compelling narrative that exposes the real life behind the art of two Victorian poets, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte, and contrasts their passion for life with that of Maud Bailey and Roland Mitchell, contemporary scholars who stumble upon romance hidden in dusty papers. This wonderfully written work is highly recommended.-- Linda L. Rome, Mentor, Ohio Copyright 1990 Cahners Business Information.
Cutting for stone: a novel - Verghese, A.
Summary: Twin brothers born from a secret love affair between an Indian nun and a British surgeon in Addis Ababa, Marion and Shiva Stone come of age in an Ethiopia on the brink of revolution, where their love for the same woman drives them apart.
Author of the much-praised medical memoir My Own Country, Verghese, who is a doctor as well as an author, now offers an expertly composed first novel about missionaries in India and Africa. In 1947, Sister Mary Joseph Praise leaves her missionary post in India to take a new position in Yemen. Traveling by ship to her new home, she saves the life of a fellow passenger—an English physician named Thomas Stone. Their meeting proves a fateful one, as Sister Praise comes to realize when she and Thomas are reunited at a hospital in Addis Ababa. Years later, she dies giving birth to twins—sons named Shiva and Marion, who are raised in Addis Ababa in an atmosphere of political upheaval. Their adopted parents are doctors at the local hospital, and the boys are raised within the confines of the medical complex. Marion serves as narrator for this poignant novel, recounting the story of how his foster parents met. As the two brothers become doctors themselves, they find that their destinies are bound up in each other and in the place they call home. Covering a 50-year span, Verghese’s accomplished novel has plenty of narrative momentum, moving smoothly between exotic locales and exploring ambitious themes of race, identity and family. An insightful and assured writer, Verghese writes from the heart about medicine and politics—timely topics that are clearly dear to him.