Feature

Also of interest ... in new short fiction

<em>Love and Obstacles</em><strong> </strong>by Aleksandar Hemon; <em>Do Not Deny Me </em>by Jean Thompson; <em>Between the Assassinations </em>by Aravind Adiga; <em>The Thing Around Your Neck

Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon (Riverhead, $26)The further Aleksandar Hemon gets from his Sarajevo youth, said Allen Barra in Salon.com, “the less vivid his vision seems to be.” The latest short-story collection from the Bosnian expat is “superb fiction”; its Hemon-like narrator gets off “some magnificent lines” while sharing tales from before and after his arrival in America. But Hemon’s characters “are becoming familiar.” We’ll have to wait and see whether the Chicagoan’s “tough-minded” fictional alter ego can find a second act in middle age.

Do Not Deny Me by Jean Thompson (Simon & Schuster, $14)Jean Thompson is “an astute observer of the pitfalls of contemporary life,” said Connie Ogle in The Miami Herald. The 12 masterful stories in Do Not Deny Me highlight how today’s society “isolates and challenges, how it brings out one’s worst and best.” Though Thompson’s fiction is “not without humor,” it often features characters who have discovered that life is disappointing. We root for them to discover a useful truth: “Nobody will save us from sorrow, so we must save ourselves.”

Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga (Free Press, $32)Aravind Adiga’s new collection creates a “far richer” portrait of India than did his Man Booker Prize–winning novel, The White Tiger, said Susan H. Greenberg in Newsweek. While the earlier book remains a greater work of literature, Between the Assassinations is a document of an entire society—young and old, rich and poor, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. In Adiga’s fictional town, people “fight, love, and struggle their way through overlapping stories.” It’s a “nimble” performance, from an author who remains “an insider with an outsider’s probing eye.”

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf, $32)With this collection, the Nigerian-born author of Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun turns her attention to America for the first time, said Yiyun Li in the San Francisco Chronicle. Though she’s better with immigrant characters than their native-born counterparts, that hardly matters. Adichie’s people “don’t feel as if they were merely created; rather it is as if they were invited into the stories by the most understanding hostess.” She relates their experiences with more empathy than most authors could dream of.

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