In 2010, Tea Obreht was named one of the 20 best writers under 40 by The New Yorker and one of the five best writers under 35 by the National Book Foundation. Her debut novel, The Tiger's Wife, takes place in an unnamed Balkan country similar to the former Yugoslavia, where Obreht was born. Natalia, a young medical student, is on her way to an orphanage in enemy territory when she learns that her beloved grandfather has died. As his confidant, Natalia was not only aware of his cancer; she was also privy to his many incredible adventures, the two most fantastic being his stories of the Deathless Man and the Tiger's Wife. Obreht has a knack for making these fantastical stories seem entirely plausible, marking the work of a mature storyteller.
Ptolemy Grey is a 91-year-old black man who has holed himself up in his filthy Los Angeles apartment, where his mind is a jumble of thoughts about his parents, the lynching of his best friend, a battle he fought in World War II and his wife dying in his arms years before. Despite the stash of gold under the floorboards, his life becomes poorer by the day. Then along comes a family friend named Robyn, who gives him the respect and affection he's lacked, and everything changes. Fusing family, fable, science fiction and sociology, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey contains echoes of Katherine Anne Porter and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but above all, the distinctive intensity of the prolific Walter Mosley.
Award-winning author Matt Rees takes readers to 18th-century Austria, where Mozart's estranged sister, Nannerl, stumbles into a world of ambition, conspiracy and immortal music while attempting to uncover the truth about her brother's suspicious death. Mozart's lovers, creditors, composer rivals and Masonic brothers all loom large, suggesting that his dark fate could overtake his sister as well. Critics have compared Mozart's Last Aria to novels of historical conspiracy theories by Dan Brown and Elizabeth Kostova, while praising Rees' sensitivity to musical and biographical detail.
This deeply melancholy stand-alone historical novel by Henning Mankell — the Swedish author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries — begins in the late 1870s, as amateur entomologist Hans Bengler journeys to the Kalahari Desert in search of an insect he can name after himself. Instead, he impulsively adopts an African child whose family is decimated in a colonial massacre. Hans names the child Daniel and brings him back to Sweden in order to "civilize" him. Eventually, a link emerges between Daniel and the murder of a developmentally disabled Swedish girl, in a twist that dramatically illuminates the evils of colonialism.
Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag.