Mohamed Hanif's first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes was critically acclaimed and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, like Mangoes, is a political satire/domestic comedy set in contemporary Karachi. The Guardian says that his sophomore effort "doesn't quite measure up to his debut but has a satisfying surprise ending."
Jeff Shaara got his start as a writer by continuing the work his father, Michael Shaara, began with his Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the Civil War, The Killer Angels. Since then, he's written novels of the Revolutionary War, the Mexican War, and both World Wars; his new novel, A Blaze of Glory, brings him back to the Civil War. We haven't seen any reviews yet, but advance readers on GoodReads have given it an average rating of four stars. Nice!
Wife 22 is not about the low wife on the totem pole in a large polygamous marriage. Rather, it's the story of Alice Buckle, more-or-less happy in a predictable and routine marriage, who secretly signs up to participate in an online study of modern marriage. The traditional narrative is liberally sprinkled with email exchanges, questionnaires, and Facebook postings, which could come across as gimmicky but doesn't. Wife 22 is both a juicy beach read and an ultimately sweet story of one woman's search for meaning in the age of social networking.
We're always happy to see a new thriller from Joseph Kanon, who's given us smart titles such as Los Alamos and The Good German. Istanbul Passage is a tale of espionage set in Istanbul at the dawn of the Cold War.
The Lost Ones is the second Quinn Colson novel by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ace Atkins. Shadow, writing in the Poisoned Pen Bookstore blog, says, "The writing is vivid, the story relevant and powerful, and the characters are all alive and kicking. James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel, along with Elmore Leonard’s Raylin Givens and Boyd Crowder, are now joined by Ace Atkins' Quinn Colson and Donnie Varner as the most vital pair in any existing crime series."
Victorian serial killer picks off Scotland Yard detectives in The Yard, which Marilyn Stasio calls "deliciously trashy." She goes on to say, "If Charles Dickens isn’t somewhere clapping his hands for this one, Wilkie Collins surely is." Okay. I'm in.
Historian and biographer Douglas Brinkley tackles the life of legendary journalist Walter Cronkite in the simply named Cronkite. According to Howard Kurtz, the thing about this new doorstop of a biography is that it's packed with "incredible tidbits about his life." Check out Kurtz's favorite details from the book.
Two new cookbook offerings couldn't, we think, be more different.
First, Brother Jimmy's BBQ: straight ahead and delicious recipes from the owner and chef of Brother Jimmy's restaurant in New York. Just in time for grilling season.
Then, from the authors of the blog Inn at the Crossroads ("In the Game of Food, you win, or you wash the dishes..."): A Feast of Ice & Fire: the Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook. I don't know what to say.
Philippa Gregory is beloved for her richly detailed historical novels (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Constant Princess, and many others). Changeling is also historical fiction, but it's Gregory's first for the young adult audience.
NEW IN PAPERBACK
Great new paperback releases this week!
Joan Didion's Blue Nights is her painful, raw memoir of the death of her daughter.
The Sense of an Ending won the 2011 Man Booker Prize, and has been a book club favorite since its release last year. Writing in the New York Times last year reviewer Liesl Schillinger said, "The Sense of an Ending is a short book, but not a slight one. In it Julian Barnes reveals crystalline truths that have taken a lifetime to harden. He has honed their edges, and polished them to a high gleam."
Rebecca Makkai's debut novel The Borrower is about the unusual relationship between a children's librarian, her book-obsessed young patron. One of my favorite books of 2011, The Borrower is a book for readers, for lovers of personal freedom and the beauty of being oneself, whoever that self might be.