Fin & Lady
by Cathleen Schine (Sarah Crichton, $26)
“Wonderfully funny though they often are, Cathleen Schine’s novels are steeped in sadness,” said Wendy Smith in The Washington Post. In her latest, about an 11-year-old who moves in with his sister in 1960s Greenwich Village, the social backdrop is “occasionally somewhat canned,” but Schine nails the protagonist’s voice. Stream-of-consciousness passages “faultlessly reproduce a child’s ricochets from topic to topic” while cleverly revealing past events that still haunt both siblings.
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by Callie Wright (Henry Holt, $25)
A roman à clef that scandalized quaint Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1962 stirs up trouble again in this cleverly told debut, said Thomas Chatterton Williams in the San Francisco Chronicle. Lawyer Anne Obermeyer hasn’t yet forgiven the philandering of her widowed father when she takes him in, and she now suspects her own husband of cheating. Though in sections this novel “suffers from a love of hearing its own voice,” it’s mostly both “thoroughly observed” and charming.
Son of a Gun
by Justin St. Germain (Random House, $26)
Justin St. Germain has wrought from tragedy a work of “austere, luminous beauty,” said Julia Keller in NPR.org. The author was a young man in 2001 when his mother was shot dead by her fifth husband in their Tombstone, Ariz., trailer. As he tracks down details about the murder-suicide, St. Germain paints an evocative portrait of the dusty, gun-loving town where he came of age. But it’s his strong yet troubled mother who lingers in the reader’s memory. “Like the author, you will mourn her forever.”
In Times of Fading Light
by Eugen Ruge (Graywolf Press, $26)
German writer Eugen Ruge’s “important, highly accomplished debut novel” bears an apt title, said Roberta Silman in The Boston Globe. As the lives of an East German family unfold across the years 1952 to 2001, “the reading feels as if we are working our way through a photograph album as the light in their lives grows dimmer.” Somehow, the author has managed the “enormous task” of using these characters as proxies for the experience of an entire nation.
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