Ten Fiction titles you should look for in May (pt. 2)

Yesterday we highlighted five great titles from a busy May publishing month and now, here are 5 more! Strangely the remaining 5 all have the same release day … I guess the largely US publishers of these titles are hoping folks will stock up for Memorial Day.

Here in Canada, we hope you’ll have cleared your reading list over the Victoria Day weekend and are ready for more!

We Need New Names (M) by Noviolet Bulawayo (May 21). If you haven’t already heard about this début novel from a rising star in the literary world, you’ll soon be noticing it mentioned a lot. NoViolet Bulawayo was born and raised in Zimbabwe and now lives in America where she has spent years studying and working in academia. Her first novel follows Darling, a ten year old girl living in a shantytown in Zimbabwe who dreams of escape to America, only to find that the reality was not exactly what she was dreaming of. The short story on which this book was based, “Hitting Budapest” was awarded a major writing award and there is a lot of excitement around this author. Kirkus reviews called this “a moving and open-eyed coming-of-age story” and Publisher’s Weekly noted that “Bulawayo’s use of English is disarmingly fresh, her arrangement of words startling”. A great suggestion for book clubs: expect to see this one on awards short lists and year end best-of listsyou should place your hold now.

The Dark (M) by Claire Mulligan (May 21). I got a heads up about this title quite some time ago, when the National Post’s literary blog The Afterword mentioned it in their list of most anticipated books of the first half of 2013. The US based Canadian author’s name may seem new, but she has both a book of short stories and a previous novel to her name (The Reckoning of Boston Jim was included in the longlist for the 2007 Giller Prize).

In the deep of winter 1893, a briskly practical physician named Mrs. Mellon arrives at a New York tenement and takes up her duty to care for the aged, the indigent and the dying. Her patient in the garret, she decides, fits all three categories nicely — that is, before she realizes she is in the presence of a most unusual lost soul: the charismatic Maggie Fox. Part mystery, part ghost story, part riveting historical fiction, The Dark ushers the reader into the shadowy border between longing and belief as it unfolds the incredible story of the famous and controversial Fox Sisters, Maggie, Katie, and Leah. In their heyday, the sisters purported to communicate with ghosts and inspired the Spiritualist Movement, a quasi-religion complete with mediums and séances and millions of followers.

Rosie Project (M) by Graeme Simsion (May 21). As another English speaking, Commonwealth country I sometimes think that we should see more Australian penned novels on our library and book store shelves. I guess the distance is part of the reason Aussie novels don’t end up on the Canadian radar more, but I have to admit my interest is quickly piqued when I see a review for one that has made the long trip. The Rosie Project’s Australian setting might have first grabbed my attention, but mix of humour and nerdy love story are what hooked me.

A first-date dud, socially awkward and overly fond of quick-dry clothes, genetics professor Don Tillman has given up on love, until a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched questionnaire—to uncover the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver. Rosie is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent, strangely beguiling, and looking for her biological father a search that a DNA expert might just be able to help her with. The Rosie Project is a romantic comedy like no other. It is arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, and it will make you want to drink cocktails.

Together Tea (M) by Marjan Kamali (May 21). Novels are a great way to learn about culture and people and this début of family and belonging will be a great one for anyone looking for a different vision of Iran than they encountered in Argo or on the nightly news.

Darya has discovered the perfect gift for her daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday: an ideal husband. Mina, however, is fed up with her mother’s years of endless matchmaking and the spreadsheets grading available Iranian-American bachelors. Having spent her childhood in Tehran and the rest of her life in New York City, Mina has experienced cultural clashes firsthand, but she’s learning that the greatest clashes sometimes happen at home. After a last ill-fated attempt at matchmaking, mother and daughter embark on a return journey to Iran. Immersed once again in Persian culture, the two women gradually begin to understand each other. But when Mina falls for a young man who never appeared on her mother’s matchmaking radar, will Mina and Darya’s new-found appreciation for each other survive?

Norwegian by Night (M) by Derek B. Miller (May 21). In a publishing world where Scandinavian Thriller seems to be the buzz-phrase du jour, here’s a book that takes that idea and gives it a new spin.

Sheldon Horowitz—widowed, impatient, impertinent—has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway: a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman, who failed his only son by sending him to Vietnam to die. Not until now, anyway.” My favourite kind of book: one that isn’t easily summed up, Booklist has said “No brief plot outline can do justice to a book that deserves to find a place on a few best-of-the-year lists” and the publisher assures us this is a “luminous novel, a police thriller, and the funniest book about war crimes and dementia you are likely to read

Survivor – Double Down

Metro Transit extending Alderney ferry service on Friday, May 3