Today is the official first day of fall–by far my favorite season to sink my teeth into a good book. Not only is it the time for wool blankets, tea and general nesting activities (and coincidentally the shoulder period between ski and camping season), it’s also when many publishers unveil their annual heavy hitters in anticipation of all those glittering literary awards.
As the fiction librarian here at NVCL I am privileged to get an insider look into a few of the year’s more intriguing titles. Thus, may I present the books which I am most looking forward to get me through the next few months of hibernation!
Although several top authors (Ursula LeGuinn, Margaret Atwood… to name a few) have crafted memorable speculative fiction about what would happen if the traditional power balance between men and women were swapped, Naomi Alderman’s newest book takes it to a new level by unveiling a story about what happens when teenage girls suddenly gain the ability to cause intense physical pain, and even death.
The book tackles questions such as what is power, how do you get it, and how long before it corrupts you. It’s Feminist Science Fiction. It won the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction. What more can I say? Still not convinced? Check out this stellar review from The Guardian.
I’m always intrigued when a book sells it’s TV rights prior to publication because it indicates that if nothing else, the novel’s concept is imaginative, expansive, and compulsive. As such, when I first heard that they were already planning a TV show centered around this novel which asks the question, “If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?” I knew I would read it.
“The Immortalists is a family love story spanning five decades, centering on four siblings who, as children, visit a fortune teller who predicts the day each will die. Subsequently, they find their lives spiraling and intertwining in dramatic ways, probing the line between destiny and choice, faith and magical thinking, reality and illusion, present and past, this world and the next” (From the publisher).
I have mixed feelings about this one, which is the main reason it’s on this list. Although “president assassinations” have almost become their own sub-genre, it’s a little bit different when the president in question is highly recognizable, still alive, and currently in office. Then again, this whole book is about a struggle of conscience. It follows Maggie Costello, a White House Aide and recurring character from Bourne’s previous novels, as she learns about an assassination attempt against the out-of-control President who should clearly not be in power and tries to decide whether to let it happen or not. For anyone wanting to learn more not just about this book, but it’s controversy I recommend checking out this piece by The Guardian . In the meantime, I’ve already placed my hold!
This raw and gritty story begins in September 1873 and follows Elizabeth Coughlin, a widow on the brink of bankruptcy, as she embarks on a buffalo hunt with her estranged and mysterious brother-in-law, Michael, in an attempt to salvage her economic future. Out of their element and overwhelmed by dangers like rattlesnakes, wildfire, rabies, flash floods and everything in between, Elizabeth and Michael’s souls unravel as they take on the cruel work of slaughtering the buffalo.
This is a gripping narrative of that infamous hunt, which drove the buffalo population to near extinction–the story of a moment in our history in which mass destruction of an animal population was seen as the only route to economic solvency. But it’s also the intimate story of how that hunt changed Michael and Elizabeth forever.(From the publisher).
Full disclosure: Robertson and I were in the same writing program at the University of Victoria many moons ago. The fact that she has just published a novel which is receiving mass-acclaim from around the world gives me warm shiny feelings and I therefore cannot wait to read her novel.
Set in the 1950s over the long, nostalgic days of summer, Demi-Gods is narrated by a striking young woman named Willa who describes a series of brief, highly charged encounters with her stepbrother. Sensitive, playful and original, Robertson is well known for her ability to craft imaginative and poetic prose who’s first collection of short stories Wallflower won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
Apparently this fall I’m really into speculative fiction, female agency, and books with the word “God” in the title.
“The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.
A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time” (From the Publisher)