Sybil's List 2015

Sybil's List from October 2015 — compiled by Westporter Sybil Steinberg, contributing editor for Publishers Weekly.
Previous lists at westportlibrary.org/recommended/more

Link to printable pdf version of Sybil's list.


FICTION

PURITY by Jonathan Franzen
Franzen’s wide-ranging novel is his best so far, chronicling the lives of three characters involved in a South American cult and murder.
 
TWO YEARS EIGHT MONTHS AND TWENTY-EIGHT NIGHTS by Salman Rushdie
Its title translates to 1001 nights. This is a wildly imaginative, satirical, and entrancing cultural fable.
 
A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara
A very long (721 pages) novel about the friendship of four men, former college roommates, and their careers in New York.
 
FATES AND FURIES by Lauren Groff
A brilliantly conceived account of a passionate love and complex marriage told from the perspectives of each spouse.
 
THE STORY OF THE LOST CHILD by Elena Ferrante
The 4th novel of Ferrante’s Neapolitan series is even more enchanting than its predecessors.
 
GOLDEN AGE by Jane Smiley
The final volume in the trilogy about the Langdon family of Iowa, that traces the lives of various family members year by year.
 
SWEET CARESS by William Boyd
The British author constructs a portrait of a woman whose adventure-fueled life is entwined with important historical events.
 
GOLD FAME CITRUS by Claire Vaye Watkins
This debut novel is set in a near future when drought has transformed southern California into a desert.
 
THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT by Helen Phillips
The suspense packed into this short novel begins immediately when a woman desperate for a job is hired by a man with no face.
 
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout
A quiet, understated and affecting story about a woman who reconciles with her mother after a long family breach. (January release)
 
A DOUBTER’S ALMANAC by Ethan Canin
The mysteries of higher mathematics and the deeper mysteries of the human heart are the themes of this masterful novel. (February release)
 
FINALE by Thomas Mallon
A sequel to his fine historical novel, Watergate, this one takes place during Reagan’s presidency.
 
THE HEART GOES LAST by Margaret Atwood
In a dystopian future, a young couple signs up on a project that involves working in a prison.
 
ACADEMY STREET by Mary Costello
In a quietly moving story, Costello follows the life of an ordinary woman, an immigrant from Ireland coming to New York.
 
HARRIET WOLF’S SEVENTH BOOK OF WONDERS by Julianna Baggott
Three generations of a blighted family, eccentric women who search for loving relationships in unexpected ways.
 
THE BLUE GUITAR by John Banville
The elegant prose in this comic-tragic novel by Booker Prize-winner Banville compensate for the unappealing hero.
 
DEATH AND MR. PICKWICK by Stephen Jarvis
A staggering 816 pages, this debut novel recounts the back story of Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers.
 
THE SUNKEN CATHEDRAL by Kate Walbert
A portrait of two 80-something widows in New York turns into an ominous portent of coming environmental catastrophe.
 
THE NIGHT STAGES by Jane Urquhart
The Canadian writer’s new novel is set in a remote area of Ireland and in the airport in Gander, Newfoundland.
 
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF LILIANE by Lily Tuck
This unconventional fictional memoir is a mixture of essay, poetry, historical fact and straight narration about the author’s life.
 
THE LOVE SHE LEFT BEHIND by Amanda Coe
An unforgettably dysfunctional British family animate this comedy of manners.
 
TEMPLES OF DELIGHT by Barbara Trapido
British author Trapido is wise about the pitfalls of love and the quirky elements of human attraction.
 
THE MARE by Mary Gaitskill
An ambitious story of a Dominican girl from Brooklyn who falls in love with horses when she is a Fresh Air kid. (November release)
 
THE TRAVELS OF DANIEL ASCHER by Deborah Levy-Bertherat
Translated from French, this slim novel is a love story, a flash-back to World War II and a mystery.
 
GIRL WAITS WITH GUN by Amy Stewart
Based on a real event that took place in 1914, this lighthearted story features a woman who becomes a courageous avenger.

SHORT STORIES
 

THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO by Anthony Marra
A brilliant, stunning, collection of interlinked stories set in Russia and Chechnya over a span of eight decades.
 
IN THE COUNTRY by Mia Alvar
Nine remarkable stories about men and women in the Philippines and in the diaspora—the Middle East, the U.S. and elsewhere.
 
FORTUNE SMILES by Adam Johnson
Six highly imaginative, sharply defined and harrowing stories by the author of The Orphan Master’s Son.
 
A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN by Lucia Berlin
The author transmuted her difficult life—she was the single mother of four sons, and a committed alcoholic—into intriguing fiction

NON-FICTION
 

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The condition of being black in contemporary America is powerfully expressed in this meditation on pervasive racism.
 
THE SHORT, TRAGIC LIFE OF ROBERT PEACE by Jeff Hobbs
A heart-wrenching account of brilliant young man who transcends the drug-ridden Newark slums and wins a scholarship to Yale.
 
THE WITCHES by Stacy Schiff
The cast of characters in this 512-page, exhaustingly researched account of the witch mania in Salem, Massachusetts numbers 88.
 
STALIN’S DAUGHTER by Rosemary Sullivan
After Stalin’s daughter defected from the Soviet Union to the U.S. she continued to lead a tragic life.
 
IRREPRESSIBLE by Emily Bingham
Subtitled The Jazz Age life of Henrietta Bingham, this intriguing biography introduces a woman who broke sexual barriers.