THE INTERESTINGS by Meg Wolitzer

The greatest gift that any writer can give her readers is providing them with a fictional world they can immerse – and ultimately lose – themselves in.

That’s precisely what Meg Wolitzer achieves in THE INTERESTINGS, surely the most fully-realized and satisfying book of her career.

This panoramic saga focuses on a group of Baby Boomers from the time they meet at a camp for the creatively gifted as teenagers through middle age. The bond that draws these divergent characters together is powerful and special; they dub themselves “The Interestings.” And the bond, for the most part, is stretched, sustained, and redefined as they age.

March 24, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, New York City, Reading Guide

ALL OUR NAMES by Dinaw Mengestu

Mengestu’s third novel—another about the immigrant experience—is his most accomplished and soulful, in my opinion. He returns again to the pain of exile and the quest for identity, as well as the need for a foreigner from a poor and developing country to reinvent himself. In addition, he alternates the landscape of post-colonial Uganda with the racially tense Midwest of the 1970s, and demonstrates that the feeling of exile can also exist in an American living in her own hometown. The cultural contrast of both countries, with a narrative that alternates back and forth, intensifies the sense of tenuous hope mixed with shattered illusions.

March 13, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Class - Race - Gender, Reading Guide, US Mid-Atlantic, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

LADIES’ MAN by Richard Price

Crude and hilarious, LADIES’ MAN from American author and screenwriter, Richard Price is a week in the life of Kenny Becker, a thirty-year-old college dropout who works as door-to-door salesman selling crappy cheap gadgets. It’s the 1970s, and Kenny lives in New York with his girlfriend, “bank clerk would-be singer” La Donna, a good-looking, marginally talented girl whose big night revolves around a cheesy talent contest at a hole- in-the-wall club called Fantasia. Kenny has a series of failed relationships in his past, and when the book begins, La Donna’s singing lessons, according to Kenny, appear to be placing a strain on the couple.

August 11, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Allegory/Fable, Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Drift-of-Life, Humorous, New Orleans

LOLA, CALIFORNIA by Edie Meidav

In this artful, cerebral novel spanning four decades and encompassing the tribal conventions and counterculture movements of the 70′s and 80′s, the reader is plunged into a cunning world of philosophy and hedonism that is best described as baroque rawness or stark-naked grandiloquence. If these terms appear to be incompatible pairings, the reader will grasp the seeming polarity as axiomatic soon after feasting on Edie Meidav’s complex narrative style. A carnal vapor infuses every provocative page of this unorthodox psychological crime thriller.

August 4, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: California, Character Driven, Mystery/Suspense, Thriller/Spy/Caper

RICH BOY by Sharon Pomerantz

Family sagas have long been a staple among American best-sellers; the examples are wide and vast. The very predictability of the family saga genre promises an absorbing yet familiar reading experience: the once-poor yet highly attractive and charismatic main character who overcomes all kinds of adversities, goes through heartbreak and scandal, and then emerges older, wiser, and in most cases, wealthier than before (or at the very least, with enough knowledge to BECOME wealthier).

July 14, 2011 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Reading Guide

KAMCHATKA by Marcelo Figueras

He calls himself “Harry” now, after his new hero, the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini, hoping that one day he, too, will be a successful escape artist. Discovering a book about Houdini, hidden in the room that will now serve as his bedroom, the ten-year-old boy finds a new source of inspiration. Only the day before, and without warning, his family had to leave their comfortable house in Buenos Aires with nothing but the bare essentials. An abandoned country house has to serve as their temporary shelter. Harry already misses school, his friends and his board game Risk. With his routines disrupted, his sense of dislocation is further heightened when papá tells him and his little brother that they all have to take on new names and forget their former ones: it is too dangerous. Set in 1976, against the backdrop of what has become known as Argentina’s “Dirty War,” that left thousands of people as desaparecidos – disappeared without a trace -, Marcelo Figueras takes us on a moving and intricate journey, through hope, devotion and betrayal, through human frailty and strength, through loss and perseverance.

July 11, 2011 · Judi Clark · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Latin American/Caribbean, South America, Translated, World Lit