New Fiction Roundup – March 2018

March is packed full of family-centered novels; the month closes out with a duo of gripping psychological thrillers.

3/6: Census by Jesse Ball – Set in a world not-quite-our-own, a widower learns that he is dying and takes to the road as a census taker with his adult son, who has Down Syndrome.

3/6: The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum – Guy works for a secret group that orchestrates seemingly coincidental occurrences that spark significant changes in the lives of their targets. He usually works in matchmaking, but when he’s called to create a coincidence involving a hit man that may lead to tragedy, Guy wonders how long he can continue in this line of work.

3/6: Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao – Poornima and Savitha, two friends who grow up poor in India, each try to improve her life with the skills she has. After separation as adults, Poornima becomes determined to find Savitha again. A stunning portrayal of female friendship; for fans of Elena Ferrante.

3/6: Happiness by Aminatta Forna – Two strangers – an American scientist and a Ghanaian psychiatrist – run into one another while watching a fox traverse London’s Waterloo Bridge. They become unlikely partners and friends during a search for a missing child. At the Central Library on March 21!

3/6: The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea – Across one bittersweet weekend in their San Diego neighborhood, revelers mingle among the palm trees and cacti, celebrating the lives of family patriarch Miguel “Big Angel” De La Cruz and his mother, recounting the many tales that have passed into family lore. At the Central Library March 28!

3/6: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs – Days after Hazel’s grandfather Isaac Severy, a famed mathematician, dies of an apparent suicide, she receives a letter from him that says he fears a secret organization may kill him to get an equation. Hazel must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels in order to find his mathematical treasure and solve the mystery of his death.

3/6: Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan – After Ren’s sister Keiko is murdered, he moves to the tiny town far from Tokyo where she lived and steps into her teaching position. In a dreamlike fog, Ren struggles to keep up with Keiko’s responsibilities while remembering their childhood together.

3/6: Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala – When Nigerian-American Niru’s parents discover his homosexuality just before he leaves for Harvard, they seek religious therapy for his “condition,” both at home in Washington, D.C. and in Nigeria.

3/6: Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith – Evi was nine months pregnant when her husband Eamon, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty. Six months later Eamon’s adopted brother Dalton has moved in with Evi to help her raise the baby. This story of an African-American family moves between past and present and is told in the voices of Evi, Eamon, and Dalton.

3/13: Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester – The first time Isabel meets her father-in-law, Omar, he’s already dead, an apparition on her wedding day. As Isabel and her husband settle into life in a Texas border town, Omar returns each year on the Day of the Dead to ask Isabel’s help in reconciling with his estranged son and wife. An intimate look at the Mexican-American immigrant experience and one family’s grappling with borders and belonging.

3/13: The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everday Horror by Mallory Ortberg – A collection of darkly playful stories with a feminist spin, based on classic folk and fairy tales that find the sinister in the familiar and the familiar in the alien, by the founder of The Toast.

3/13: The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat – The unnamed narrator grew up part of Boston’s tightly-knit Ethiopian community, before falling under the spell of a charismatic hustler and his visions of a utopian island community.

3/13: The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst – In the early years of World War II, an engineering student about to enlist in the Royal Air Force and the son of a celebrated novelist share a brief affair. The story follows them, and their children, in a portrait of seven decades of gay society and culture in Britain.

3/20: American Histories: Stories by John Edgar Wideman – In this collection of short stories Wideman blends the personal, the historical, and the political in stories about love, death, struggle, and what we owe each other.

3/20: Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen – After 12-year-old Ah Liam sees his grandmother defacing a portrait of Chairman Mao, he reports her to the authorities. Fleeing their home for Hong Kong, the Maoist government will only issue the family visas on the condition that one child is left behind.

3/20: Death Comes in Through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage – In 2003, journalist Matt travels to Havana, Cuba to marry Yarmila, a food blogger. Instead, he finds her dead in the bathtub. As he looks for the killer (and looks to exonerate himself), he starts to wonder if he really knew Yarmila at all.

3/20: The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman – Six friends grow up in a close group, calling themselves The Gunners after the name on the mailbox of the abandoned house where they play. At 16 one of their members, Sally, suddenly distances herself. 15 years later, the rest of The Gunners reunite at Sally’s funeral.

3/20: The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman – Pinch, the son of a great painter, strives for success and his father’s approval in a humorous and humane examination of a life lived in the shadow of greatness.

3/20: Stray City by Chelsea Johnson – Building a home for herself in the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, away from her Midwestern Catholic roots, a young artist becomes unexpectedly pregnant after a reckless night. A decade later, she’s forced to come to terms with her past when her precocious daughter asks about her father.

3/27: The Other Mother by Carol Goodman – In this Gothic thriller, a woman and her infant daughter are on the run from a controlling husband. Taking a job at a Catskills estate that backs onto a psychiatric hospital, she confronts postpartum depression and her own unraveling sense of identity. Mistaken identities and madness abound.

3/27: Tangerine by Christine Mangan – Alice and Lucy were best friends in college until an accident drove them apart. Years later, in the 1950s, Alice is living in Tangier with her husband when Lucy unexpectedly shows up. Psychological suspense told in alternating viewpoints, and described as Patricia Highsmith meets Hitchcock.

~ posted by Andrea G.

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