February 20, 2014 Writer Kevin Roose followed eight new bankers through their first years on Wall Street. Reviewer Drew Toal says the book has a "solid sense of finance's corrosive day-to-day effects."
January 31, 2014 Diane Johnson often writes about American heroines living in France, but when she began her memoir, she found herself drawn back to her native ground in America's heartland. Critic Maureen Corrigan says Flyover Lives "lets scenes and conversations speak for themselves, accruing power as they lodge in readers' minds."
January 30, 2014 Robert Harris' new An Officer and a Spy is a fictionalized account of the Dreyfus Affair — which, as critic Alan Cheuse notes, is tailor made for Harris' talents: there's an innocent victim at the center, a melodramatic villain, buffoonish military brass, crusading newspaper editors and a star turn from the novelist Emile Zola.
January 29, 2014 Quindlen's novel Still Life with Bread Crumbs is predictably comforting and readable, even as it details the challenges of a modern middle-aged woman: the fallout of divorce, a career on the wane, and the endless financial and emotional support demanded by her family.
January 26, 2014 Roddy Doyle's new The Guts revisits the Commitments three decades later, grown up and dealing with life's blows. Mastermind Jimmy Rabbitte is out of the hospital after cancer surgery, and he's living life one day at a time. Critic Alan Cheuse says the dialogue-heavy novel is both foulmouthed and bursting with joie de vivre.
January 23, 2014 Jenny Offill's sparse and experimental novel Dept. of Speculation is a reminder that bigger isn't always better. Through short vignettes, Offill builds a narrative about an unnamed husband and wife. It's a sly, profound glimpse into a fragile domestic sphere — and, while the form may be unusual, the book is highly readable.
January 23, 2014 Joyce Carol Oates' new Carthage explores the familiar but important territory of family anguish. Oates has written more than 40 novels — critic Alan Cheuse praises her prodigious imagination, and says her latest effort is a "roller coaster, demon-twister" of a ride.
January 22, 2014 Richard Powers' new novel follows an avant-garde composer who has sacrificed everything in his pursuit of transcendent music — and who gets into trouble when he attempts to combine his twin obsessions of music and chemistry. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says Powers hits a high note with Orfeo.
January 21, 2014 Japanese author Takashi Hiraide's The Guest Cat has just been released in English; it's a layered novel within a novel, centered on a workaholic couple who become enraptured by their neighbors' playful little cat. Reviewer Juan Vidal says "even dog lovers will relate" to the story.
January 17, 2014 E.L. Doctorow's new novel Andrew's Brain takes the reader deep into the mind of a cognitive scientist who's struggling with both scientific questions and personal tragedy. Critic Heller McAlpin says the book, which takes the form of Andrew's monologue to a doctor, is "a real head-scratcher."