Thursday, July 31, 2014

july reading roundup

Florida in the summer means rain. Normally it's a brief shower from 3 pm on, so regular that you can set your watch by when the rain starts, but this summer it's been a lot of big thunderstorms.  While that means less time swimming, it's more time reading. The getting up at 5 a.m. to have peace and quiet also adds to reading time, so I did very well this month. Keeping in mind that I read for my own entertainment and not because I want to be one of those readers who write the  "lengthier, more considered critical judgments we used to have time to write and read,"  as per Thomas Mallon, I'm having a good time with my book choices.  


The Lobster Kings, by Alexi Zentner
The Farm, by Tom Rob Smith
In the Wolf's Mouth, by Adam Foulds (read, not yet discussed)

The Cold, Cold Ground, by Adrian McKinty (read, not yet discussed)
Herbie's Game, by Timothy Hallinan
The Stone Boy, by Sophie Loubière
Resurrection, by Wolf Haas
Silent Kill, by Peter Corris
Sorrow Bound, by David Mark


weird fiction/horror/fantasy/sci-fi
The Elementals, by Michael McDowell (the Valancourt Books ed.)
Worlds of Hurt, by Brian Hodge (just finished today so no discussion yet, but yowza!)

Now the rest:

1) Wishlisted books:
      A) Crime Fiction:
Motor City Burning, by Bill Morris
The Household Traitors, by John Blackburn
Blue Octavo, by John Blackburn

       B) General/Literary Fiction
Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Isolation and Detachment, by Adam Resnick
Call it Sleep, by Henry Roth

       C) The Weird, the Strange, the Supernatural, etc.
nothing this month
      D) Nonfiction: 
Unruly Spaces: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities and Other Inscrutable Geographies, by Alastair Bonnett

2) Books bought this month: 

      A) crime fiction  
The Mad and the Bad, by Jean-Patrick Manchette
A Cut-Like Wound, by Anita Nair
The Glass Cage, by Colin Wilson
*Come Sweet Death, by Wolf Haas
*The Boneman, by Wolf Haas
*Resurrection, by Wolf Haas
*The Accidental Pallbearer, by Frank Lentricchia
*The Dog Killer of Utica, by Frank Lentricchia
*A Very Profitable War, by Didier Daeninckx
*Nazis in the Metro, by Didier Daeninckx
I Hear the Sirens in the Street, by Adrian McKinty

      preorderedLast Winter We Parted, by Fuminori Nakamura

*thanks to Melville House's 40% off sale! 
   B) general/literary fiction
*We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
*To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris
*The Lives of Others, by Neil Mukherjee
*The Wake, by Paul Kingsnorth
*History of the Rain, by Niall Williams
Tigerman, by Nick Harkaway
All That is Solid Melts Into Air, by Darragh McKeon

      preordered:  The Lotus and the Storm, by Lan Cao
                              Augustus, by John Williams
                       The Dog, by Joseph O'Neill
                      The Disunited States, by Vladimir Pozner

* thanks to the booker prize longlist judges coming up with these

      C) the weird, the strange, the supernatural, sci-fi etc.  
North American Lake Monsters, by Nathan Ballingrud
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
Lai-Wan: Tales of the Dreamwalker, by C.J. Henderson
Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts, by W.H. Pugmire
Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley, by W.H. Pugmire
        preordered: nada

     D) spy fiction
A Most Wanted Man, by John LeCarre

      E) nonfiction
The Explorers: A Story of Fearless Outcasts, Blundering Geniuses and Impossible Success, by Martin Dugard
     preordered : nada

3) Indiespensable, Book Passage Signed First Edition, and Politics and Prose Signed First Edition  books for this month:
Indiespensable: #48:  The Great Glass Sea, by Josh Weil  -- arrived and I'm so ready to read it, but other obligations are pushing it out further
Book Passage:  Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
Politics and Prose:  The Zhivago Affair, by Peter Finn and Petra Couv

4The book group is on hiatus, coming back in September with Boris Fishman's A Replacement Life

5) Currently reading:
weird fiction:  just starting North American Lake Monsters, by Nathan Ballingrud
regular fiction:  The Antiquarian, by Gustavo Faveron Patriau
nonfiction: starting Dr. Mutter's Marvels, by Christin O'Keefe-Aptowicz (but I can't post about it until September)
crime fiction: The Devil's Road to Kathmandu, by Tom Vater (crimewave press)

 this month I gave away two giant bags of books, two boxes of books, and several others.  Thanks to all who gave them new homes. My husband Larry thanks you as well.

still storming -- so I'll just go read now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

just another month of summer left -- don't miss The Farm, by Tom Rob Smith

Grand Central Publishing, 2014
352 pp


"It was a contradiction that she'd always shielded me from trauma, yet when it came to fairy tales she'd willfully sought out more disturbing stories, as if trying to compensate, giving me in fiction that which she'd tried so hard to take away from real life." 

I've seen a number of  descriptions  of  The Farm that have labeled it as a thriller, and there is a lot of merit in  wanting to pigeonhole it as such, but once I finished it, I realized that there was much more besides the stuff of thrillers going on here.  It's really a multilayered story within a story within a story that is slowly peeled back like the proverbial onion until you reach its core.  That is not to say that there are no thrillling moments in the novel -- on the contrary,  there are a number of moments where I turned pages quickly to see what possibly could happen next, and where in my head, I believed I'd figured out the "conspiracy" taking place in the Swedish forest where the action is set. And then, of course, there's that wonderful opening sequence. The narrator, Daniel, receives a call from his dad Chris telling him that his mom Tilde is sick, that she's been "imagining things -- terrible, terrible things," and that she's been sick all summer. Now she seems to be "suffering from a psychotic episode," and is now voluntarily committed.  As Daniel gets ready to make the trip from London to Sweden, his father calls him again to tell him that there's a problem -- Tilde, it seems, is not there; she's evidently convinced the doctors to let her go and now Chris has no clue where she may be. He does inform his son that he is among the people Tilde's been making accusations against, and that "none of what she claims is real."  While Chris rings off to check their joint bank account, Daniel gets a call from his mother saying that she'll be landing in London in just two hours and that
"Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad. I don't need a doctor. I need the police."
From there, Tilde and Daniel sit for hours and hours while she goes through a satchel filled with what she calls evidence of her husband's involvement in a horrible criminal conspiracy; while Daniel wants her to get the point, she insists on going through each exhibit one by one, in chronological order.  The story she tells reveals much to Daniel about herself and her husband, and by the time the story reaches its conclusion,  Daniel comes to realize a lot about himself.


The Farm is a twisty novel, one that really plays on reader expectations.  The reader, up to a point,  takes the same position as Daniel here, having to decide whether or not Tilde's version of things is true and his dad is guilty of terrible crimes,  or whether she really does need to be back in a hospital receiving treatment.  Daniel faces the unenviable task of serving as both judge and jury,  while in the meantime he begins to realize that there are a number of things about his parents he never knew,  leading to the idea that maybe we don't know people as well as we think we do -- most especially members of our own families.  I can't really say much without giving away the show.

This is another one of those books where I had to take time to let things come together in my head, but I have to say, I ended up liking it.  The Swedish setting with its forests, lakes and snow-covered ground provides the perfect backdrop for Tilde's chilling and highly-atmospheric story.  While there are some spots where the pace seems sort of sluggish, each time Tilde took something out of her satchel things started to heat up again and I was drawn back in and  ready for whatever might happen next.  The ending comes fast, sort of out of proportion to the big buildup that proceeded it, but it is a bit of a shocker. It also hit home the idea that as much as you may want to ignore the past, sometimes it might be better to confront it.  I also felt that since Daniel has such a weight on his shoulders here, he might have shown as much energy throughout the story as he did toward the end, but in the long run, The Farm is a really good summer read that will leave you thinking about those closest to you and the secrets they carry. It's also a heck of a ride.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Forever Man, by Pierre Ouillette -for TLC book tours

Alibi, 2014
kindle edition
316 pp

from Netgalley and the publishers - thank you

Portland, Oregon, is one of my favorite cities in America -- not just because of Powell's Books but because it's beautiful and has a lively and diverse population. In  the dystopian thriller The Forever Man, the diverse population is still there, but now it's divided mainly between the haves and the have-nots. The haves live in beautiful, luxurious gated communities while the have-nots struggle to keep non-permanent jobs and to keep their families fed. As the author notes,
"The national safety net was now completely unraveled and the populace left in free fall. No Social Security, no pensions, no Medicare, no Medicaid, no welfare."
 Then there are the criminals who run most of the city and the cops who try to keep order in this chaos.

One of these cops is Lane Anslow - he's a contract policeman also struggling to stay afloat financially, and has just been told that he's become too old for the job to continue. Lane has a genius but bipolar brother Johnny, who is involved in some very cutting-edge genetic research. Not too far into the story, Johnny tells Lane that their problems are about to come to an end, and that Lane would not have to worry about money ever again. After he returns from a trip to New York, he says, they'll both be set for life.  But Johnny's plans are thwarted and he disappears, but not before he manages to get one phone call to his brother from his hiding place, sending Lane out on a quest to find him. However, there are people who are not so keen on Lane's interference -- most especially the members of  a shady group who are pursuing their own interests on Mount Tabor, interests to which Johnny holds the key.   Aside from the dystopian element, the author explores scientific advances that can prolong life -- for those with the cash, that is -- and the questions that arise out of the success of these advances.

Let me just say this straight up - The Forever Man was just not for me. I don't normally read books like this, but sometimes when all I  want is brain candy, I'll pick up the occasional thriller or two.  I always expect that I'm just going to have to toss all disbelief out the window, especially in a futuristic setting such as the one here, but this one was just way too over the top - the setting might be plausible as one future road this country could follow, but the  action and the dialogue were just too much.    It also reminded me of a screenplay, ready to roll the minute someone picks up the option. Most of  the book is written in present tense and reads like a series of screenplay directions, including flashbacks.  Once I got that in my head, combined with how over the top it was, it was a struggle to finish -- not even the debate about prolonging life could hold my interest. I hate, absolutely hate being so negative, but it's what it is. Not my cup of tea. However, the book is garnering some fine reader reviews, so it's probably just me.

my thanks to Netgalley and to TLC book tours, where if you click on the link, you'll see where this book is headed next.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Not for the easily disturbed: Summer House With Swimming Pool, by Herman Koch

Hogarth, 2014
400 pp
originally published as Zomerhuis mit zwembad, 2011
translated by Sam Garrett


"Sometimes you run your life back to see at what point it could have taken a different turn. But sometimes there’s nothing at all to run back – you yourself don’t know it yet, but the only button that’s still working is forward.”

There are very few novels that have ever a) made me squirm while reading them and b) made me feel like I really ought to go and wash my hands each time I set the book down, but this one succeeded in doing both.  At the same time, the novel is compelling enough so that I couldn't not pick it up again -- the characters are so repulsive that I just had to keep reading.  

The story is told from the point of view of a general practitioner named Marc Schlosser, who begins his narrative describing his revulsion to human bodies, especially naked ones.  As part of his self-introduction, Schlosser reveals how he fantasizes about death at the same time his patients are pointing out their physical ailments during an examination:
"No, I don't want to see. I pretend to look, but I'm thinking about something else. About a roller coaster in an amusement park that has a green dragon's head mounted on it. The people throw their hands in the air and scream their lungs out. From the corner of my eye I see moist tufts of pubic hair, or red infected bald spots where no hair will ever grow again, and I think about a plane exploding in the air. The passengers still belted in their seats as they begin a mile-long tumble into eternity: It's cold, the air is thin, far below the ocean awaits. It burns when I pee, Doctor. Like there are needles coming out ... a train explodes just before it enters the station..."
and more.  While the reader understands that Schlosser is disturbed, from the outside, his patients don't have a clue. Not only is he a popular physician, an "ideal family doctor" whose "selling point" is that he gives  patients twenty minutes of his time so that they feel like they're "being taken seriously," since, as he notes,  patients can’t tell the difference between time and attention,” he's also known for being " fairly accommodating with prescriptions,” since "Medicines are what boost the quality of life."  His reputation for being easy about prescriptions first led him to cross paths with actor Ralph Meier, who'd heard about him from a colleague, and who, eighteen months later as the novel opens, has also just been buried. Schlosser is awaiting a hearing from the Board of Medical Examiners the next day for what he says is a "medical error," but obviously he has been summoned before them because of some sort of malpractice regarding Meier's death.  The rest of the novel follows as Schlosser recounts the events of the last eighteen months that have led up to this moment. It all begins with an invitation to Schlosser and his wife Caroline to attend Meier's performance in Richard II that ultimately leads the good doctor, his wife and two daughters to the titular summer house with swimming pool. They're there along with the Meiers, their two teen boys, Stanley Forbes (a somewhat sleazy photographer and film director), and Ralph's girlfriend Emmanuelle who seems much too young.  What seems at first like a comedic look into the hedonistic summer fun of  the upper middle class quickly turns serious when tragedy strikes.  But who is responsible -- and what should be done?  

 Summer House With Swimming Pool leaves the reader to examine the motivations of each and every character in this novel, especially those belonging to Schlosser, who as narrator is the only source for what actually happened.  The reader knows from the outset that there's something not quite right with him; as he goes about dispensing his own observations on his world, he interjects the teachings of one of his old university profs whose own bizarre beliefs got him tossed out of the academic world.  Parenthood, especially the raising of daughters is a huge theme -- here these young girls are thrust into a space of  irresponsible adult behavior that creates an obviously sexually-charged environment. How do parents protect their daughters in this situation?  The question of violence and what might set it off in otherwise outwardly "normal" seeming people is also examined.  And as noted above, the adults in this novel are pretty repellent -- and one would think that the good doctor would learn something from his experiences, but well, I leave it to the reader to decide whether or not this is the case. 

There's always more going on underneath the surface in this novel, and despite its repulsive characters and very difficult material (especially as the parent of a young daughter),  I couldn't help but remain mesmerized throughout.  It's twisted, disturbing, and definitely not for the squeamish -- and despite all of the uncomfortable squirming in my chair while reading it, it's even sometimes darkly funny. However, it was always compelling me forward.  My only criticisms of this novel are a) that the ending sort of faltered -- for one thing, the main character just sort of ran out of steam in comparison to the rest of the novel, and for another, considering the tone of the rest of the novel, it just didn't pack as big of a punch as I would have expected; b) the middle sort of sags a bit before things become lively once again.   Bottom line though, I liked it and would easily recommend it. I probably should have started with Mr. Koch's The Dinner; I'll be pulling that book out here very shortly.  And I'll also say that should another one of this author's books be translated and published here, I'll be one of the first people to buy it.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

the man booker prize longlist is announced

This year's longlist for the Man Booker Prize has been announced -- and well, yeah.

According to the Telegraph, "There are six novels from Britain, five from the US, one from Australia and one from Ireland".  Here they are in that order:

J by Howard Jacobson, 
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, 
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, 
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee,
 Us by David Nicholls 
How To Be Both by Ali Smith

United States
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris,
 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler,
 The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, 
Orfeo by Richard Powers 
The Dog by Joseph O’Neill

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan

History of the Rain by Niall Williams

Hmph. How did they miss Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens? (US) Or Fiona McFarlane's The Night Guest? (Australia)  -sigh-  Well, anyway, it does look to be an interesting list this year!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Oh - I'm so torn on this one! The Lobster Kings, by Alexi Zentner

W.W. Norton, 2014
352 pp

hardcover --  my thanks to the publishers and to LibraryThing

“The ocean gave us our life and it also took life away.”

The Lobster Kings is set on Loosewood Island, situated between the eastern Canadian coast and the state of Maine, its jurisdiction claimed by both Canada and the United States.  It's been the home of the Kings family since the 1700s ever since Brumfitt Kings, who came to the island with an Irish fishing fleet each year,  volunteered to remain on the island to take care of the companies' drying racks and "keep a permanent encampment" for the others.  When he wasn't working "seeing to company business," and "other chores of survival," Brumwitt spent his time drawing. He stayed alone on the island, happy in its isolation, for three years; the fourth year the men on the island brought in wives from Ireland and England.  He himself did not marry until eight years into his permanent stay on Loosewood Island, and legend has it that his wife came from the sea.  Brumfitt noted the details of her arrival in his journal, along with the dowry that she brought to him:
"his children, and his children's children to each and every generation, would carry a blessing: the bounty of the sea." 
Brumfitt was not just the progenitor of the Kings Family; he was also an artist whose paintings are famous.    The Kings have been harvesting the ocean ever since Brumfitt's time, and have been very lucky. It seems that the legendary dowry has fulfilled its promise, generation after generation, but also according to legend, there is a price to be paid for the promise of the bounty of the sea -- and it has been exacted in each generation with a first-born son.    Cordelia Kings, the narrator of this story, spent her childhood reading Brumfitt's journals and working with her father lobster fishing on his boat. The lobster-fishing community on Loosewood Island is very closely knit, and looks to Woody for leadership when something comes up.  Cordelia, now an adult, is the "heir to the throne" of the Kings family lineage and to the family's position on the island. And something does come up: mainland  James Harbor fishermen are moving out of their own lobster-fishing areas and have moved into the waters off of Loosewood Island, breaking an unwritten but long-held  code that has existed between the two areas about fishing territory. Not only are they putting their traps in the island's waters, but some of the James Harbor contingent are bringing their meth trade into island waters and onto the island as well.  With Woody sort of sidelined with health and other issues, Cordelia steps in, trying to move into her role as the heir to deal with the situation.  

There is so much about this novel to like - but it does have its down side, which is why my reaction is sort of muddled here.  I was very much taken with the family history being so prevalent throughout the story. Cordelia, for example, often turns to Brumwitt's paintings that she's so carefully studied -- Woody once told her that the "history and the future" of the family were to be found in Brumfitt's paintings; he'd "painted all of the memories of Loosewood Island, even the ones that hadn't happened yet."  At one point in the story, she even references a painting during a radio call for help to describe a situation she doesn't want everyone listening to know about.  This same technique is used by the author at various important points where the paintings  mirror what's happening,  helping to  move the action along so that he doesn't have to spend a lot of time describing what's going on. I also liked how he  incorporates the tourists who have at some point decided to stay on the island and who have set up a community of artists, and the "Brumfitt walks" that people can take.  Another positive aspect of this novel is the closeness of this community of  long-time island regulars who now find themselves being invaded by contemporary  issues that are encroaching upon the way things have always been on the island -- the modern meth trade for easy money that substitutes for the traditional hard-work ethic, the arrogance of the seasonal tourists who build their houses and complain about the lobster boats blighting their ocean view, lobster poaching, and outsider views on lobster fishing that pits money against sustainability.  Then there are the characters in the Kings family. The sisters have their spats, which is realistic;  I was most especially drawn to Woody for his ability to reign in his daughter when she got too uppity and gung-ho, and to Cordelia for sticking up for herself, for the value she places on family history and tradition, and because as scrappy as she is, she doesn't always come across simply as some one-sided tough-as-nails person who captains her own lobster boat. 

Now for my  issues:  In the first part of the book, where the author introduces the family's mystical lore,  the island's history,  and the Kings girls during their childhood,  the writing is just so good, flowing very nicely and sucking me right into the story.  I remember thinking at page 84 that if the rest of the book is written like this,  I knew I was going to love it. Alas -  we not too much later take a turn into sheer melodrama, centering on  the drug dealer who came back to the island after his father died. When some of the locals get wind that he's on the island, not fishing but dealing meth, they take care of him in their own way.   Add to this  a murder subplot involving a later showdown at sea,  and the combination of the these scenes left me surprised at how much the book's tone had changed and had become reminiscent of  a western movie or modern-day vigilante flick. The change highlighted for me much overall inconsistency in the writing.  And while I was really into the Kings' family relationship, the ending got plain sappy.  Plus, let's get real: the whole King Lear thing just didn't come across as well as it might have.

I'm really torn on this one.  For the most part, I liked the people in the Kings family, I was taken with the  idea of this small, closely-knit island community facing some tough issues and changes coming  from the outside.   I didn't even mind the more fantastical elements built in to the novel's beginning,  although one later instance in particular came across as a little too far-fetched to be taken in stride as just another moment of magical realism. It's just that the unevenness of the writing got to me after a while and left me kind of shaking and scratching my head.  I'd tentatively recommend it based on the positive aspects mentioned above, and I will say that even though this book may not be a favorite of mine for this year, I'm still going to pull out my other novel by this author and give it a try. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Millions: Most Anticipated Books -- The Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview

 Just posting this out of interest and so I'll have a record to go back to later.  The full story is at The Millions' website - I'm just listing here.  Will I read any of these? If they have a star * by them, then let's just say I'm very interested and will probably be investigating further.   Sheesh - there are a LOT here I want to look at!

California by Edan Lepucki: -- ordered. But not because of the hype or Colbert's campaign, which I applaud. 

  *Motor City Burning by Bill Morris
 The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique:
 Friendship by Emily Gould
 * Last Stories and Other Stories by William T. Vollmann *
 High as the Horses’ Bridles by Scott Cheshire
 The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

*  Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

Panic in a Suitcase by : Yelena Akhtiorskaya
 * The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil -- actually, this is Powell's upcoming Indiespensable pick and I'm sooo excited!

* Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

* We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas:  I already have an ARC of this one, courtesy of Indiespensable.
 Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
 The Kills by Richard House: I attempted this one last year. Loved the first book, started the second one and then stuff was going on so I put it aside. I'll give it another go this year.
  Before, During, After by Richard Bausch
 * Your Face In Mine by Jess Row
 Flings by Justin Taylor
 * Augustus by John Williams
Alfred Ollivant’s Bob, Son of Battle by Lydia Davis - I will definitely be buying this for a little boy I know.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Secret Place by Tana French
*The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
 Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters - Preordered eons ago!
* The Children Act by Ian McEwan
10:04 by Ben Lerner
* Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel
* The Dog by Joseph O’Neill
Barbarian Days by William Finnegan
Wittgenstein, Jr. by Lars Iyer

The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Antrim
* Hold the Dark by William Giraldi
Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas -- already have a copy
Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones
Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück
Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg
Happiness: Ten Years of n+1,  by Editors of n+1
Neverhome by Laird Hunt
* My Life as a Foreign Country by Brian Turner
Wallflowers: Stories by Eliza Robertson
* On Bittersweet Place by Ronna Wineberg.
 * The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
 How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
On Immunity: An Innoculation by Eula Biss

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
cover* The Peripheral by William Gibson
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Dan by Joanna Ruocco
* A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Citizen by Claudia Rankine -
Some Luck by Jane Smiley
Reunion by Hannah Pittard
A Different Bed Every Time by Jac Jemc
  * 300,000,000 by Blake Butler
Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke
 Quick Kills by Lynn Lurie
* Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère
The Heart Is Strange by John Berryman
* The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
 Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah -- A maybe, only because I haven't cracked open the trilogy by Farah that I already own!

* The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson
Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford:
 Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet
 Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter
* Twilight of the Eastern Gods by Ismail Kadare
 * A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
 Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014 by Alice Munro
Loitering: New and Collected Essays by Charles d’Ambrosio
Why Religion is Immoral: And Other Interventions by Christopher Hitchens -- another preordered eons ago
* The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Mehgan Daum

* The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya
* Skylight by José Saramago

The rest of the article goes on into 2015, but I'll be stopping here.