Book Club Recommendations

A dear friend and poet emailed the other day asking for suggestions for her book club’s 2014 read. She mentioned that the age range and ethnicity of the members are diverse, and they tend to pick novels published in the last fifteen years, so off the top of your Salonniere’s head, here’s a few favorite recent titles.

Top ten list of contemporary novels:

1. Andrea Levy, Small Island (first POV from 3-4 different characters in pre and post WWII Jamaica & London. I laughed. I cried–it’s one of my all time top favorites!)

2. Carsten Jensen, We the Drowned (a monster of a book but totally worth every page, covers 3-4 generations of sailors in Denmark, tales of the high seas, WWI, WWII and more, like pirates!–another one of my all time top favorites.)

3. Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (another ensemble story told from different POVs across the globe, but namely a riff on Bronte’s Wuthering Heights that revolves around a backwater village in the Himalayas)

4. Chris Abani, Virgin of Flames, an visceral tale of a mixed race (Nigerian and Salvadorena) Los Angeles native, cross-dresser who lives near the LA river.

5 & 6. Louise Erdrich, Roundhouse or Plague of Doves, by one of my all time favorite writers, dealing with rape on the reservation and the injustice of tribal law OR the depiction of a small town filled with mixed race and Ojibwe natives facing a downward spiral of poverty–heavy duty but Erdrich has shaped me as a fiction writer. She’s a supernova.

7. NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names, first person young girl’s POV from Zimbabwe to Detroit, a coming of age story about displacement and diaspora.

8. Dinaw Mengetsu, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, a happenstance relationship between an Ethiopian immigrant and a single mom who meet in D.C.

9. Gerenimo T. Johnson, Hold it Til It Hurts, haven’t read it but I know the author. A veteran returns to the South and deals with PTSD.

10. Gina Apostol, The Gun Dealer’s Daughter, the daughter of a Filipino mafia family realizes the legacy she’s been entangled in since birth.