Interesting Books

by - 5/30/2007

I found these interesting reads while browsing the Penguin website at the Flights of Fiction section which is devoted to their Viking line of books.

The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowthers
January 2007

On a blustery day in London, Maryam Mazar's long–hidden past emerges—with tragic consequences for her pregnant daughter, Sara. Unable to bear the guilt, Maryam runs away to the remote village in Iran where she was raised and disowned by her father. When Sara decides to follow, she discovers the price that her mother paid for her freedom and of the love she left behind. In this stunning debut novel, Yasmin Crowther paints a magnificent portrayal of betrayal and retribution set against the backdrop of Iran's tumultuous history and wild, physical beauty.

Petropolis by Anya Ulinich
February 2007

Sasha Goldberg has always been an outsider. A chubby, biracial Jewish girl growing up in the Siberian town of Asbestos 2, whose father abandoned the family for America, leaving her to navigate adolescence under the shadow of her overbearing mother. When following her heart gets her into trouble at home, Sasha becomes a mail–order bride and emigrates to suburban Arizona, finds herself trapped as a millionaires' pet Soviet Jew in Chicago, and eventually lands in Brooklyn where she confronts her past and finally discovers herself. Petropolis is a hilarious and poignant debut that takes on motherhood, immigration, and American culture, signaling the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak
March 2007

In her second English language novel, Turkish author Elif Shafak confronts her country's genocidal past in a colorful tale set in both Turkey and the United States. At its center are the four sisters of the Kazanci family, who live together in Istanbul, and Armanoush, the Armenian-American stepdaughter of their brother, Mustapha. Events are set in motion when Armanoush secretly travels to Turkey and unwittingly uncovers a secret that links the two families together and ties them to the 1915 Armenian massacre. Full of vigorous, unforgettable women characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is a bold, powerful tale that will confirm Shafak as a rising star of international fiction.

No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club by Virginia Ironside
April 2007

Don't harass her about para-sailing or taking Italian language courses. Forget about suggesting she join a gym. Marie Sharp may be a little creaky in the bones as she heads towards the big 6–0, but she's fine with it. She would rather do without all the moving–to–Florida–bicycling–across–Mongolia–for–the–hell–of–it hoopla that her friends insist upon. She's already led an exciting life: she came of age in the 1960s, after all. Now, with a new grandchild on the horizon, all she wants to do is enjoy what she considers the most interesting stage of her life. No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club is an unexpected delight of a novel about letting go of youth and embracing your inner curmudgeon!

Five Skies by Ron Carlson
May 2007

Beloved story writer Ron Carlson's first novel in thirty years, Five Skies is the story of three men gathered high in the Rocky Mountains for a construction project that is to last the summer. Having participated in a spectacular betrayal in Los Angeles, the giant, silent Arthur Key drifts into work as a carpenter in southern Idaho. Here he is hired, along with the shiftless and charming Ronnie Panelli, to build a stunt ramp beside a cavernous void. The two will be led by Darwin Gallegos, the foreman of the local ranch who is filled with a primeval rage at God, at man, at life.

As they endeavor upon this simple, grand project, the three reveal themselves in cautiously resonant, profound ways. And in a voice of striking intimacy and grace, Carlson's novel reveals itself as a story of biblical, almost spiritual force. A bellwether return from one of our greatest craftsmen, Five Skies is sure to be one of the most praised and cherished novels of the year.

Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him by Danielle Ganek
June 2007

When figurative painter Jeffrey Finelli is run over by a cab in front of the Simon Pryce Gallery on the night of his first opening, the art world falls all over itself for a piece of the instantly in-demand work by the late "emerging artist." At the center of the show is an enormous painting called Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him that becomes the object of most desire. As the artist philosophically muses before meeting his untimely end, "It represents the creative endeavor."

After Finelli's death, the gallery receptionist, aspiring artist and protagonist Mia McMurray, finds herself at the center of the art world's most sensational story. For suddenly everyone wants Lulu. Mia, in her clever, clear-headed voice tells the ensuing tale, the details of which she finds endlessly amusing and unavoidably alluring. While she watches a Birkin-toting wannabe collector, a well-muscled Irish artist, a real estate baron, and niece/muse of the artist, Lulu Finelli, duke it out over the oversized piece, Mia, à la Holly Golightly, finds her own creative outlet and artistic identity, not to mention love.

As The Devil Wears Prada demystified the world of high fashion, Danielle Ganek's delightfully funny and insightful first novel paints the oddly captivating New York City art scene as it exists today.

God Is Dead by Ron Currie, Jr
July 2007

When God descends to Earth as a Dinka woman from Sudan and subsequently dies in the Darfur desert, the result is a world both bizarrely new yet eerily familiar. In Ron Currie's provocative, wise, and emotionally resonant novel we meet God himself; the Dinka woman whose mortality He must suffer when He inhabits her body; people all over the world coping with the devastating news of God's demise; a group of young men who, fearing the end of the world, take fate into their own hands; mental patients who insist that a god still exists; armies taking up the eternal war between fate and free will; and parents who, in the absence of a deity and the "lack of anything to do on Sundays," worship their children.

On the surface, this is a world utterly transformed—yet certain things remain unchanged: protective parents clash with willful, idealistic teenagers; idols are exalted; small-town rumor mills run unabated; and children often don't realize how to forgive their parents until it's too late.

Red Rover by Deirdre McNamer

Deirdre McNamer has won praise for the intelligence, beauty, precision, and sweep of her fiction. Her first novel in seven years, Red Rover tells the story of three Montana men who get swept up in the machinations of World War II and its fateful aftermath. As boys, Aidan and Neil Tierney ride horseback for miles across unfenced prairie, picturing themselves as gauchos, horsemen of the Argentine pampas. A hundred miles away, Roland Taliaferro wants only to escape the violence and poverty of his family. As war approaches, Aidan and Roland join the FBI. Roland serves Stateside while Aidan—in a gesture as exuberant as a child in a game of red rover—requests hazardous duty and is sent as an undercover agent to Nazi-ridden Argentina. Neil becomes a B-29 bomber pilot.

Aidan returns to Montana ill, shaken, and divided from Roland over the FBI's role in the war. On a cold December day in 1946, he is found fatally shot, an apparent suicide. The FBI stays silent. Only when Neil and Roland are very old men, meeting by chance in a rehabilitation facility, does Aidan's death become illuminated, atoned for, and fully put to rest. This beautifully crafted, far-ranging novel will catch readers up in the grace and hard truths of the lives it unfolds.

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