general fiction

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The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat

An enforcer for the brutal Duvalier regime in Haiti settles in New York City and reinvents himself as a simple barber, hiding in plain sight within the Haitian émigré community and raising a daughter who has no clue about her father’s brutal acts. In this book of linked stories, Danticat moves between 1960s Haiti and contemporary New York, and among a variety of characters who survived the mayhem of “Baby Doc” Duvalier, showing how brutality and violence haunt both victims and perpetrators and asking the question: is true redemption possible?

Mrs. Engels by Gavin McCrea

Based on the real-life Lizzie Burns, Irish rebel and helpmeet to philospher Frederick Engels, Mrs. Engels is a fascinating work of historical fiction. Gavin McCrea gives life to this little-known historical figure, portraying how an illiterate cotton mill worker became an influential figure in Engels’ and Karl Marx’s political circle. Lizzie’s wit and intelligence serve her well as she works her way up from the mills of Manchester to London society, and readers will enjoy Lizzie’s wry observations and no-nonsense voice in this first-person narrative.

Alys, Always by Harriet Lane

On a dark and stormy night, Frances Thorpe encounters a one-car accident and exchanges a few words with the trapped and unseen driver before she dies. When Frances later discovers that the driver is Alys Kyte, wife of the famous author, Lawrence Kyte, she carefully turns this unplanned encounter into an opportunity to change her future.  Reminiscent of Ruth Rendell or Margaret Yorke, this psychologically acute debut novel is imbued with subtle unease as Frances worms her way into the Kyte family and the glamorous world they inhabit.

New York Times Best Books of 2015

It's that time of year when we all add to our reading lists. Yesterday the editors of The New York Times Book Review released their top ten favorite books from 2015. Read their reviews here. Click on the jackets below for an annotated list with links into the library catalog.

Great Thanksgiving Reads

The feast is prepared, the guests have arrived - but there’s still time to sneak in a few pages of reading before it’s time to carve the turkey! Here are our suggestions of Thanksgiving-themed books. Even if you can’t make it to the library before the big day tomorrow, these recommendations make for good reading any time. After all, the themes of good food and family and friends coming together are always relevant (even if sometimes these gatherings result in familial drama).

It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Curious about romance novels but under the impression that romances are usually pretty badly written? This is the book you should try. Featuring both strong female and male lead characters, our hero is a sexist football coach (who needs to be taken down a peg or two) and our heroine is the new owner of his football team. What makes this romance special are engaging subplots about the heroine’s complex relationship with her little sister and a madman plotting against our couple - in addition to an exciting (and steamy) love story!

National Book Awards Announced

Yesteday, November 18, the National Book Awards were announced. Founded in 1950, these awards are intended to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.

The top winners in each category are:

The Bees by Laline Paull

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker bee, navigating the strict hierarchy of her beloved hive. She’s also curious, ambitious and unusually talented. A rare chance to rise above her low-caste estate comes when circumstances threaten the hive’s survival. Work and sacrifice conflict with an overwhelming maternal love and lead her to unthinkable and dangerous deeds. Paull’s imaginative prose protects the story from artifice. You’ll never look at the lowly honey bee in your backyard in the same way after reading this thrilling tale.

Animal Factory by Edward Bunker

Edward Bunker knows about the Animal Factory. Having spent his formative years behind bars in some of this country's most notorious prisons, his knowledge came naturally. Luckily for us, instead of submitting to the dark abyss of prison life, Bunker invested his time in writing. The results are some of the most vivid portrayals of convict life, both in and out of prison, that I have ever read.

The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle

There is a good reason the Boston Globe has called Boyle one of the very best American novelists since Twain. His stories at their best capture several ways of looking at ourselves and our times. His latest novel is set mostly in current-day Northern California. It follows the intersecting lives of three individuals: retired high school principal Sten Stenson, his mentally disturbed son Adam, and a simple-minded right-wing anarchist conspiracy theorist, Sara. Sara and Adam become lovers, despite the nearly 20 year difference in their ages.

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