August 26, 2023
This week look for a Korean American father who goes missing; a harrowing novel about survival in the sea; a portrait of a 19th century German Expressionist painter; and a gothic fantasy in which a family discovers a hidden terrace in their apartment. Plus, a Central Park birder invites us into his world.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Angie Kim
Published by Hogarth Press
Korean American siblings Mia and John are bickering twins whose younger brother Eugene suffers from Mosaic Angelman Syndrome which affects his ability to speak and move. Exercise helps, and so father and son regularly take long morning walks. But one day Eugene comes stumbling home alone, setting Kim’s riveting novel in motion. As in Kim’s bestselling Miracle Creek, she continues to examine the subject of parenting a sick child. “It’s probably something I’ll be exploring for the rest of my life.” This moving drama combines a surprise-filled thriller with a moving portrait of an immigrant family facing issues of racism and ableism.
By Daniel Kraus
Published by MTV Books
Kraus’s sci-fi thriller comes at a time when many vacationers are heading to the ocean. His ‘what if’ posits a scuba diver being inadvertently swallowed by a 65-ton sperm whale after getting tangled up with a giant squid. The clock begins ticking for him to escape; he has less than two hours of oxygen. Combining hard science, deep-sea lore, an absorbing psychological character study, and a thorny father-son drama we get the best of many genres plus really good writing. If you are not up for rereading Moby-Dick, this could do the trick..
By Hilary Leichter
Published by Ecco
Leichter’s weird and wonderful Temporary, was a finalist for The Center’s First Novel Prize. In her second outing, Edward and Annie struggle to afford their too-tiny apartment, dreaming of the day they are comfortable enough to afford a proper living space to raise their child, Rose. While entertaining Annie’s work colleague one evening they open the closet to discover, like a scene out of Being John Malkovich, a beautifully appointed outdoor terrace. Leichter plays with shifting time, space, and reality in one of the most imaginative novels of the season—this one will sneak up on you with its profound mind-bending journey through love and loss.
Girl in White
By Sue Hubbard
Published by One / Pushkin Press
The German Expressionist artist Paula Modersohn-Becker is the inspiration for Hubbard’s incisive new novel. Girl in White celebrates the life of a lesser-known female painter acclaimed for her extraordinary paintings of women and children, and her numerous self-portraits, often in the nude. The story is narrated by her estranged daughter, recently jilted and pregnant. She never knew her mother who died in childbirth. Modersohn-Becker’s life, her marriage, her long relationship with Rilke (who married her best friend), and her dedication to art comes alive in an illuminating piece of historical fiction perfect for art-lovers and nicely timed with the recent republications of Rilke’s work..
Better Living Through Birding
By Christian Cooper
Published by Random House
As I sit watching a wren build a nest out my kitchen window, I am reminded of how many of us became more aware of the natural world during the pandemic. Cooper has penned a wonderful blend of personal history (navigating being a gay Black man in America), travelogue, and an introduction to the joys of birdwatching. Coming to the public eye in 2020 when a racist encounter in Central Park with a dogwalker went viral, his eloquence and contagious delight in his pastime has earned him a National Geographic TV series. He reminds us of the essential pleasures of stopping to look and listen.