Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Article excerpt


THE BLIND ASSASSIN, by Margaret Atwood, Doubleday, $26

This year's Booker Prize winner is a historical mystery about an old woman who has spent her life in the shadow of her sister, a one- book novelist who committed suicide years ago. Told in a wonderfully complex narrative, the story blends early 20th-century Canadian history with a science-fiction tale from the planet Zycron. (521 pp.)

MR. SPACEMAN, by Robert Olen Butler, Atlantic Monthly Press, $24

Desi has news for humanity. After studying Earth and its commercials for 100 years, he beams a bus load of gamblers aboard his ship for a final supper. His alien perspective illuminates the comic aspects of our lives that have grown dim with familiarity. A mixture of sweet absurdity, social criticism, and theological speculation. (224 pp.)

WINTER RANGE, by Claire Davis, Picador USA, $23

The new sheriff, Ike Parsons, and his wife are just settling into a good life in this small Wyoming town when a local rancher runs out of money and spitefully decides to let his cattle starve. Ominous throughout, this debut novel races toward a gripping, ice- bound tragedy that tests the limits of Ike's faith in himself, his wife, and the law. (262 pp.)

A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS, by Dave Eggers, Simon & Schuster, $23

There are so many reasons to dislike this super-hip, post-modern autobiography that it's something of a disappointment to report how wonderful it is. What saves the book is not its very funny linguistic pranks, but the tender story of Eggers's desperate love for his eight-year-old brother after the death of their parents. Eggers captures the delight and terror of parenthood. (375 pp.)

STERN MEN, by Elizabeth Gilbert, Houghton Mifflin, $24

The lobstermen of Fort Niles and Courne Haven have fought one another for years. When Ruth returns to Fort Niles after a private- school education, she has nothing to do till she spots Owney, the hunky nephew of a minister from Courne Haven. Think "Romeo and Juliet" with a Maine drawl. (289 pp.)

DISOBEDIENCE, by Jane Hamilton, Doubleday, $24.95

With stunning economy, Henry describes his senior year in high school - the year he fell in love, his sister shaved her head, and his mother committed adultery. Though it's a psychological tale as old as Oedipus Rex, this disturbing story also explores the way new technology interacts with old human weaknesses. (304 pp.)

ELECTRIC GOD, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Simon & Schuster, $23

The author of the current movie "Pay It Forward" has constructed a modern version of Job that's also one of the most entertaining novels of the year. On Hayden's 50th birthday, he doesn't have a job, his family is gone, his girlfriend dumps him, and his dog dies. What will it take to get him to realize there might be a better way than raging against God? (320 pp.)

WHEN WE WERE ORPHANS, by Kazuo Ishiguro, Knopf, $25

This tragic story about Christopher Banks, a detective haunted by the disappearance of his parents when he was a child, is a stunning exhibition of narrative skill. Convinced he could have saved them if only he'd paid more attention, Banks returns to Shanghai 20 years later to find them. Booker Prize nominee. (336 pp.)

PRODIGAL SUMMER, by Barbara Kingsolver, HarperCollins, $26

The stories of Deonna Wolfe, Lusa Landowski, and Nannie Rawley, three women living alone in southern Appalachia, are wound together in this celebration of the erotic earth. In their own separate settings, they struggle against a culture that denigrates them for not being "natural ladies," but through nature, they find far more profound ways to be women. Some syrupy romance, but always entertaining. (444 pp.)

THE BANYAN TREE, by Christopher Nolan, Arcade, $25. …

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