Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Egan’

26th June
written by ReedenWright

Thank you to the Irish Times for the suggestions.

1 The Troubled Man

By Henning Mankell

After more than two decades of angst-ridden crime-solving, Swedish detective Kurt Wallander takes his last bow in Mankell’s suitably gloomy new novel. The Ystad detective’s many fans won’t want to miss finding out how Wallander, now in his 60s, deals with a cold-war mystery involving Soviet submarines in Swedish waters, as well as his new role as a grandparent and the spectre of his own impending dementia.

2 Great House

By Nicole Krauss

At the centre of Krauss’s second novel is a desk that was plundered by the Nazis in Hungary in 1944 and now links the four narrators of the book: a New York novelist who was given the desk by a friend of a friend later murdered by Gen Pinochet; an elderly Israeli widower raging against his estranged son; an elderly British man whose wife came to Britain with the Kindertransport before the second World War; and a young American woman at Oxford University, in love with a man whose strict father tracks down the possessions of Holocaust victims. This is a powerful work about grief, memory and the weight of history.

3 Mistaken

By Neil Jordan

The story of a young man from Marino Crescent in north Dublin who discovers he has a southside doppelgänger, Mistaken recently won the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award at Listowel. Jordan (left) painstakingly evokes a changing Dublin, from the 1960s to the present day, as his narrator Kevin grows up and finds his fate is inextricably tied to that of Gerard, his more affluent lookalike, with tragic results.

4 A Visit from the Goon Squad

By Jennifer Egan

A book that combines the stories of an ageing 21st-century music producer, a beautiful young kleptomaniac in the 1990s, a group of confused young Californian punks in the 1970s and a desperate publicist with a dictator for a client could have been a confused mess, but Egan’s dazzling novel, which deservedly won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, jumps between characters and decades to create a hugely satisfying whole.

5 The Moment

By Douglas Kennedy

Shortly after travel writer Thomas Nesbitt signs his divorce papers, he receives a package from Petra, his German ex-girlfriend, which brings his thoughts back to his experiences in 1980s west Berlin. As an eager young writer he shared a flat with an elegantly wasted Anglo-Irish artist and fell in love with Petra, a translator for a pro-western radio station. But, like many things in cold-war Berlin, Petra is not all that she seems. Kennedy’s 10th novel shouldn’t disappoint his many fans.

6 Saints and Sinners

By Edna O’Brien

Although these stories by the grande dame of Irish letters visit London and New York, Irish society is still at the heart of O’Brien’s work. Tangled relationships between mothers and daughters, family feuds that will never quite be resolved, the moral bankruptcy of a boom-time businessman: old and new versions of Ireland collide in these powerful tales.

7 A Monster Calls

By Patrick Ness

When the writer Siobhan Dowd died, in 2007, she left notes for an unwritten novel. The acclaimed young-adult author Patrick Ness (left) has taken Dowd’s idea and turned it into a hugely powerful novel that has been wowing adults and younger readers alike. The story of a boy with a very sick mother who is regularly visited in the night by a terrible tree-like monster, it’s a hugely powerful depiction of fear and grief, brilliantly illustrated by Jim Kay.

8 Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe

By Jenny Colgan

The frustrated woman opening her own cupcake emporium may now be a media cliche, but if anyone can turn it into something fresh it’s Colgan, whose very funny books are proof that just because a book looks fluffy doesn’t mean it’s not smart. Armed with her baker grandfather’s recipes (included in the book), former corporate drone Issy launches her cafe, but finds that being a cupcake queen isn’t as easy as she’d hoped.

9 The Forgotten Waltz

By Anne Enright

The pleasingly unreliable narrator of Anne Enright’s first novel since winning the Man Booker Prize for The Gathering is Gina Moynihan, a sophisticated young married woman in boom-time Dublin who starts an affair with a married man. Gina wilfully plays down the importance of Sean’s relationship with his troubled young daughter, and Enright gives us both a devastatingly witty look at the rise and fall of the property market and an insightful, unsettling look at all-consuming desire.

10 The Fatal Touch

By Conor Fitzgerald

This is only the second Alec Blume novel by the Irish writer Conor Fitzgerald (pen-name of Conor Deane), but Blume, an American who has lived in Rome for years and is now a commissioner with the Italian police, has already won the devotion of many readers. When a notorious Irish art forger is murdered Blume discovers that senior policemen, including the belligerent Col Farinelli, don’t seem keen to pursue the matter. Soon Blume is uncovering a dark world of corruption.

11 The Paris Wife

By Paula McLain

Hadley Richardson was Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, his companion during the Moveable Feast years in 1920s Paris. McLain’s novel retells the story of that period through Hadley’s eyes, from the blissful romance of her early married life to the ultimate collapse of the relationship. You don’t have to be a Hemingway fan to be drawn in by McLain’s evocation of this fascinating world.

12 Unspoken

By Gerard Stembridge

Stembridge’s third novel is a saga looking at the rapidly changing Ireland of the 1960s through a diverse group of characters, including the loving Strong family. As television exerts its modernising influence on the country, we also meet the politician Dom, a thinly disguised version of Donogh O’Malley, whose introduction of free secondary education at the end of the decade would transform Irish society.

13 The Dead Summer

By Helen Moorhouse

When Martha Armstrong moves to a remote Norfolk farmhouse with her baby after her bitter divorce, she finds her new home is anything but a rustic idyll. Many years ago the house was occupied by two Irish sisters with a tragic secret, and when things start to go bump in the night it seems that the house hasn’t forgotten its past. The debut novel of this Dublin-based writer is a classic chiller.

14 A Death in Summer

By Benjamin Black

John Banville’s crime-writing alter ego returns with another sophisticated slice of Irish noir. Set in 1956, it sees his protagonist, the pathologist Quirke, returning for the fourth time to investigate the murder of a newspaper magnate, Richard “Diamond Dick” Jewell, who is found with his head blown off in his Co Kildare estate. Quirke’s sleuthing brings him into close contact not only with Diamond Dick’s beautiful French widow, Françoise, but also with a shadowy orphanage with which Jewell was somehow connected.

15 The Tiger’s Wife

By Téa Obreht

The youngest writer to win the Orange Prize for Fiction, the 25-year-old (below), in her debut novel, offers up a richly complex fable set in an unnamed part of the Balkans, where a young doctor called Natalia is treating children affected by a recent war. Natalia is determined to unravel the truth behind the stories her grandfather told her as a child, including one about a mysterious “deathless man” and another about a tiger who escaped from a zoo in 1941 and came to her grandfather’s village.

16 You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

By Sarra Manning

Romances don’t come much sharper, smarter or more romantic than this story of Neve, who has always been seriously overweight and self-conscious. Now she’s lost weight and is determined to win the heart of William, the boy she loved at college. So she asks bad-boy Max to show her how to have a relationship. Touching and witty, with a wonderfully snarky heroine who prefers Virago Modern Classics to Manolo Blahniks, it’s a sweet story with an edge and genuine depth.

17 The Leopard

By Jo Nesbø

Harry Hole, the creation of Jo Nesbø (left), is the archetypal tormented detective. Struggling with gambling and drugs, and attempting to come to terms with the impending death of his father, he has fled to Hong Kong after yet another traumatic case. But then he’s called back to Norway to investigate the horrible murders of two women who were staying in a remote mountain hotel. With no connection between the victims and not a single clue to follow, Hole is in trouble – and then yet another visitor to the hotel is murdered.

18 Carte Blanche

By Jeffery Deaver

Following in the footsteps of the acclaimed novelist Sebastian Faulks, who was granted permission by Ian Fleming’s estate to write the 2008 Bond novel Devil May Care, the American thriller writer Deaver takes on the world’s most famous secret agent. This is no retro pastiche, though: the story, which sees 007 facing a sinister waste-management mogul, is firmly set in the present day, and Q has provided Bond with some thoroughly modern, app-filled gadgets. But some things, thankfully, never change: he still introduces himself as “Bond . . . James Bond”.

19 Bullfighting

By Roddy Doyle

The characters in Doyle’s collection of short stories are coming to terms with getting older – or at least trying to. It’s a testament to Doyle’s skill as a writer that, despite the ostensible similarities between his protagonists (they’re all middle-aged men from ordinary backgrounds living in north Dublin suburbia), their voices remain distinct and their stories never feel bleak.

20 The Best of Everything

By Rona Jaffe

First published in 1958, this compulsively readable novel by Rona Jaffe (left) has been reissued by Penguin after its appearance in an episode of Mad Men. Its frank portrayal of four very different women working in the Manhattan publishing and theatre worlds in the 1950s caused a sensation when the book first appeared. Today’s readers will enjoy Jaffe’s evocative depiction of a society in which women could be labelled old maids at 25, as well as her perceptive characterisation and skilful storytelling.

For the rest of the titles, go here.

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