"First, I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later." So begins Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard's Ford's 2012 novel, Canada.The story is narrated by retired schoolteacher Dell Parsons as he looks back on the tumult that ensued when his parents — two unlikely criminals — find themselves in a financial bind and haphazardly hold up a small-town bank. Born in Jackson, Miss., Ford was once known as a Southern writer but now eschews the regional label; he has taken readers to New Jersey and France, and now on to the vast American prairie and the woods of Canada. "I haven't scoured Dixie out of my voice," Ford tells NPR's Jacki Lyden. "But I don't think that the books that I have written ... have really in any way been Southern in character."
All-day domesticity is no life for a former CIA assassin — even one who has given up the game to be a stay-at-home mom in Luxembourg, where her husband has taken a mysterious new banking job. Luckily for Kate — the heroine of author Chris Pavone's 2012 thriller — life is about to get interesting. In The Expats, everyone's lying about almost everything, from Kate and her husband to the mysterious American couple who keep showing up in their lives. "There are four main characters in the book, and they're all keeping secrets," Pavone tells NPR's Laura Sullivan. But, he adds, everyone in The Expats also believes in what they're doing. "They're not simple lies," he says. "They're lies that have a reason to them."
"Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts has had Harlem on her mind since she was a high school student in Houston reading the work of Jean Toomer, Ann Petry, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and others," observes NPR critic Jane Ciabattari. After moving to an apartment without a kitchen in Harlem in 2002, Harvard grad Rhodes-Pitts wrote a "tender, improvisational memoir of several years spent exploring the myths of this capital of African America and the realities of its 21st-century incarnation," as Ciabattari puts it. "Harlem Is Nowhere is a pilgrimage, a celebration and a cautionary note. It also heralds the arrival of a writer whose voice fits right in with the literary forebears she reveres."
Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor forPublishers 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.