A literature book recommendation: One of the Boys: A Novel by Daniel Magariel

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2xru4N5.
The subject of One of the Boys is archetypal, but Magariel’s novel depicts it with the power of stark revelation. We cannot turn away.
Book description from Google Books:
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice A “gripping and heartfelt” (The New York Times Book Review) story about two young brothers contending with the love they have for their abusive father, One of the Boys is a stunning, compact debut by a major new talent.The three of them—a twelve-year-old boy, his older brother, their father—have won the war: the father’s term for his bitter divorce and custody battle. They leave their Kansas home and drive through the night to Albuquerque, eager to begin again, united by the thrilling possibility of carving out a new life together. The boys go to school, join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. But soon the little missteps—the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late night noises, the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters—become worrisome, and the boys find themselves watching their father change, grow erratic, then dangerous. Set in the sublimely stark landscape of suburban New Mexico and a cramped apartment shut tight to the world, One of the Boys conveys with propulsive prose and extraordinary compassion a young boy’s struggle to hold onto the pieces of his shattered family. Tender, moving and beautiful, Daniel Magariel’s masterful debut is a story of resilience and survival: two foxhole-weary brothers banding together to protect each other from the father they once trusted, but no longer recognize. With the emotional core of A Little Life and the speed of We the Animals, One of the Boys is among the most remarkable debut novels you’ll ever read.
The book is rated 3.58/5 at goodreads.com, from 1668 ratings. See 412 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2wKMwfR.
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A literature book recommendation: Attrib and Other Stories by Eley Williams

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2xpIjSy.
Fiddling with words, as if playing with them were all that mattered, her characters draw time to a standstill – then they stop, suddenly, blinking and thrilled. It’s beautiful, the way they get lost.
Book description from Google Books:
This debut collection from Eley Williams centres upon the difficulties of communication and the way one’s thoughts may never be fully communicable and yet can overwhelm you. Attrib. celebrates the tricksiness of language just as it confronts its limits. Correspondingly, the stories are littered with the physical ephemera of language: dictionaries, dog-eared pages, bookmarks and old coffee stains on older books. This is writing that centres on the weird, tender intricacies of the everyday. A bold new collection from one of Britain’s most original new writers.
The book is rated 4.45/5 at goodreads.com, from 74 ratings. See 16 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2wITNNa.
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A literature book recommendation: The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2sfHMgP.
His faith in the country is touching, and this book is a gift (and not just a last-minute one for your nephew, either).
Book description from Google Books:
A New York Times Bestseller A timely collection of speeches by David McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States—winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many others—that reminds us of fundamental American principles.Over the course of his distinguished career, David McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, colleges and universities, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions. Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American. The American Spirit reminds us of core American values to which we all subscribe, regardless of which region we live in, which political party we identify with, or our ethnic background. This is a book about America for all Americans that reminds us who we are and helps to guide us as we find our way forward.
The book is rated 4.34/5 at goodreads.com, from 1445 ratings. See 326 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2tz0unL.
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A literature book recommendation: Ties by Domenico Starnone

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2xeamUV.
Lahiri has commended Elena Ferrante’s ability “to communicate with the world through [her] words only,” and it would likewise be a shame for the background noise about Starnone to drown out his own literary achievement. Ties should be savoured for its words alone.
Book description from Google Books:
They were young and in love and they sought freedom from their families. They married, but as middle-age and family obligations set in and the world changed around them, their marital vows seemed to lose their meaning. When he left, she felt gripped by impotent rage; she burned with questions that had no answers. She stayed with the kids in Naples, a city from which she felt a growing estrangement. He transferred from Naples to Rome and moved in with a younger woman. But the inescapable ties that bind us can be tenacious, stronger than both the wounds inflicted by abandonment and the desire for freedom. The smallest gesture can render those ties painfully evident. His return is made possible by a mutual and tacit agreement- for the sake of the kids, and for their own sake, they will carry on as if nothing has come between them. But can betrayal ever be swept under the carpet? is it possible to retrace one’s steps and regain what was lost? If so, at what price? Possessing the keen perceptiveness of John Updike, Domenico Starnone gives his readers a powerful short novel about marriage, family, and the consequences of one’s actions upon both.
The book is rated 3.91/5 at goodreads.com, from 1039 ratings. See 185 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2wzdmI1.
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A literature book recommendation: Compass by Mathias Enard

A critic review (source LA Times) can be read at: http://lat.ms/2wygIL6.
“Compass” is as challenging, brilliant, and — God help me — important a novel as is likely to be published this year, but there was more than one occasion on which I had to stop myself from throwing it across the room.
Book description from Google Books:
On the shortlist for the 2017 International Man Booker PrizeAs night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the center of these memories is his elusive, unrequited love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East.With exhilarating prose and sweeping erudition, Mathias �nard pulls astonishing elements from disparate sources–nineteenth-century composers and esoteric orientalists, Balzac and Agatha Christie–and binds them together in a most magical way. 
The book is rated 3.64/5 at goodreads.com, from 562 ratings. See 133 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2wy196n.
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A literature book recommendation: White Hot (Hidden Legacy) by Ilona Andrews

A critic review (source Dear Author) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2uNVI28.
As in other Andrews books, descriptions are utilitarian, but the dialogue shines with humor and wit. I have just one more minor nitpick—while the entire rest of the book is narrated by Nevada in first person, the epilogue switches to third person in Rogan’s viewpoint. That felt jarringly late in the book to introduce his POV.
Book description from Google Books:
The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hotNevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice … An Avon Romance
The book is rated 4.62/5 at goodreads.com, from 10998 ratings. See 1487 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uwbOSH.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uw6tLh.

A literature book recommendation: The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2wwEEOV.
The Accusation is a powerful work that seems destined to serve as the go-to example, and indictment, of life in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Book description from Google Books:
The Accusation is a deeply moving and eye-opening work of fiction that paints a powerful portrait of life under the North Korean regime. Set during the period of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il’s leadership, the seven stories that make up The Accusation give voice to people living under this most bizarre and horrifying of dictatorships. The characters of these compelling stories come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from a young mother living among the elite in Pyongyang whose son misbehaves during a political rally, to a former Communist war hero who is deeply disillusioned with the intrusion of the Party into everything he holds dear, to a husband and father who is denied a travel permit and sneaks onto a train in order to visit his critically ill mother. Written with deep emotion and writing talent, The Accusation is a vivid depiction of life in a closed-off one-party state, and also a hopeful testament to the humanity and rich internal life that persists even in such inhumane conditions.
The book is rated 4.07/5 at goodreads.com, from 1354 ratings. See 266 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2xak9ep.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2x9U5Aa.

A literature book recommendation: Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2uEXdoh.
As dark as it is, the novel is also, as one might expect from Robinson, frequently hilarious, prompting laughter not just against the darkness, but from it. It is also, ultimately, hopeful, although – as Jared would tell you – that might just be an illusion…
Book description from Google Books:
With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the Giller-shortlisted author of the classic Monkey Beach and winner of the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award, blends humour with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otter . . . The exciting first novel in her trickster trilogy. Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who’s often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he’s also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can’t rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)–and now she’s dead.      Jared can’t count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can’t rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family’s life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat…and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he’s the son of a trickster, that he isn’t human. Mind you, ravens speak to him–even when he’s not stoned.      You think you know Jared, but you don’t.
The book is rated 3.88/5 at goodreads.com, from 520 ratings. See 134 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uXaSlH.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uDKG4i.

A literature book recommendation: Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2uEXdoh.
As dark as it is, the novel is also, as one might expect from Robinson, frequently hilarious, prompting laughter not just against the darkness, but from it. It is also, ultimately, hopeful, although – as Jared would tell you – that might just be an illusion…
Book description from Google Books:
With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the Giller-shortlisted author of the classic Monkey Beach and winner of the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award, blends humour with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otter . . . The exciting first novel in her trickster trilogy. Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who’s often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he’s also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can’t rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)–and now she’s dead.      Jared can’t count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can’t rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family’s life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat…and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he’s the son of a trickster, that he isn’t human. Mind you, ravens speak to him–even when he’s not stoned.      You think you know Jared, but you don’t.
The book is rated 3.92/5 at goodreads.com, from 477 ratings. See 120 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uXaSlH.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uDKG4i.

A literature book recommendation: 4 3 2 1: A Novel by Paul Auster

A critic review (source LA Times) can be read at: http://lat.ms/2vwbHCh.
What is Auster up to here? After slogging through “4 3 2 1” it’s still difficult to say. There isn’t enough ambition in the narrative message to justify the page length, and all along I thought to myself: Auster is smarter than this.
Book description from Google Books:
Longlisted for the Man Booker PrizeA New York Times Bestseller | A Los Angeles Times Bestseller A Boston Globe Bestseller | A National Indiebound BestsellerThe Millions’s “Most Anticipated;” Vulture’s “Most Exciting Book Releases for 2017;” The Washington Post’s Books to Read in 2017; Chicago Tribune’s “Books We’re Excited About in 2017;”Town & Country’s “5 Books to Start Off 2017 the Right Way;” Read it Forward, Favorite Reads of January 2017“An epic bildungsroman . . . . Original and complex . . . . A monumental assemblage of competing and complementary fictions, a novel that contains multitudes.”—Tom Perrotta, The New York Times Book Review“A stunningly ambitious novel, and a pleasure to read. . . . An incredibly moving, true journey.”—NPR Paul Auster’s greatest, most heartbreaking and satisfying novel—a sweeping and surprising story of birthright and possibility, of love and of life itself.Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Athletic skills and sex lives and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Each Ferguson falls under the spell of the magnificent Amy Schneiderman, yet each Amy and each Ferguson have a relationship like no other. Meanwhile, readers will take in each Ferguson’s pleasures and ache from each Ferguson’s pains, as the mortal plot of each Ferguson’s life rushes on. As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written, yet with a passion for realism and a great tenderness and fierce attachment to history and to life itself that readers have never seen from Auster before. 4 3 2 1 is a marvelous and unforgettably affecting tour de force.
The book is rated 3.80/5 at goodreads.com, from 3098 ratings. See 726 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2vvXUfb.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2vdspv1.