Hello fellow readers,
Today we bring to you the top seven books to read from Jan till April 2016. Brew a nice cuppa joe and get reading.
Obsession, competition, betrayal — it is the summer of 1977 and 11-year-old Mira, an aspiring ballerina, is embroiled in all three. While her home holds her parents' ugly divorce, Mira finds escape in ballet, where her relationship with her much-older mentor intensifies and darkens. In the present day, another dance instructor also becomes entangled in a risky relationship with a student. Weaving together past and present, Girl Through Glass is a complex coming-of-age debut.
If you're prone to judging books by their covers, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine is likely as irresistible as what lies inside: Williams' super-short stories are "folk tales that hammer like a nail gun." Intrigued? You can read an excerpt here. Not intrigued? Well, you should be: Fine x 5 is out of McSweeney's, which does everything just a liiiittle bit different in the best possible way.
You don't want to be the silly person asking, "Who?" when Alexander Chee blows up with the publication of his first book in over a decade, The Queen of the Night. Chee won a Whiting Award for his first novel, Edinburgh, and Junot Díaz has since called him "the fire, in my opinion, and the light." The Queen of Night is Chee's triumphant return to fiction, set in the glitz and grime of the 19th century Paris Opera. Lilliet Berne is a legendary soprano who is offered a shot at leaving a permanent mark on history when she is offered an original role — only, the libretto is based on a secret piece of her past. Chock full of romance, intrigue, and sprinklings of real history, The Queen of Night is the first truly epic novel of the year.
Helen Macdonald earned her much-deserved following last year with her memoir, H is for Hawk. However, she is also a poet — one who moves gracefully from the specific to the large and philosophical. This slim-yet-powerful collection gathers the best examples of her flexibility and her precision, each written with the same eye and lyricism that has made her prose unrivaled in Shaler's Fish.
Yann Martel rocketed onto the literary scene in 2003 with his mega-bestseller, Life of Pi. However, the Canadian author fizzled out after the publication of Pi's lackluster follow-up, Beatrice and Virgil, in 2010. There's good news, though: Early reviews have confirmed that Martel has recovered his lost footing with The High Mountains of Portugal, which transports readers to Lisbon in 1904. When Tomás discovers an old journal, he has a chance to redefine history if he can recover a mystical treasure. The consequences of his quest reverberate throughout history, drawing in a Portuguese pathologist 35 years later and, 50 years on, a Canadian senator returning to his ancestral village. The High Mountains of Portugal is promising.
Sofia Samatar has won numerous prizes for her popular novel, A Stranger in Olondria. She returns this year with The Winged Histories out of Small Beer Press, an independent fantasy and fiction publishing house founded by Gavin Grant (editor also of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet) and his wife, Kelly Link (Get in Trouble: Stories) — so you know it's got to be good. The Winged Histories is the story of a soldier, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite in the throes of a rebellion that has divided the empire of Olondria. However, for the four women, the struggle is not one just to survive, but to leave a lasting mark on history itself. Kirkus Reviews calls Samatar "a writer of uncommon beauty, and she takes a genre that has historically tended to focus on the heroic exploits of men and shows how those exploits involve and affect women.
Born in France to a French mother and Senegalese father, NDiaye published her first book at 18, going on to earn the Prix Goncourt for Three Strong Women and, last year, the Gold Medal in Arts from the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts. Her latest novel, Ladivine, tells the story of Clarisse Rivière, who keeps her poor seamstress mother, Ladivine, a secret from her husband and daughter, who is also named Ladivine. Names hold a lot of meaning in this novel: Clarisse, in fact, was born Malinka, a name she shed along with her past. Twenty-five years go by and, finally, Clarisse's world comes crashing down, leaving the narrative to her daughter to pick up.