August 27, 2013 George Johnson's The Cancer Chronicles was inspired by his wife's battle with uterine cancer. It traces the history of the disease back to the very first tumor ever discovered — in a dinosaur bone. Reviewer John Wilwol says Johnson "writes clearly and colorfully without dumbing down his material."
August 28, 2013 Kim Stanley Robinson's latest novel, Shaman, paints a vivid portrait of life in 30,000 B.C. It's the story of young Loon, who's destined to become the new shaman of his tribe. Reviewer Alan Cheuse says the world of Shaman is so authentic, he dreamed he was living in it.
September 3, 2013 Books about quantum mechanics can be pretty dry stuff. But when a novelist conjures up multiple worlds, the results can be spellbinding, even when it's no easy read. Such is the case with Duplex, the latest book from Kathryn Davis. Reviewer Rosecrans Baldwin, says this one's worth the effort.
September 4, 2013 Michael Gruber's new novel, The Return, is a tale of memory and revenge: hero Rick Marder, a New York literary type with a medical death sentence, heads south to settle old scores with the narcotraficantes who killed his in-laws. Reviewer Alan Cheuse calls Gruber a "master of the genre."
September 4, 2013 Alice McDermott's characters can often be described as average, and Marie, the heroine of her latest novel, is no exception. But critic Maureen Corrigan says the power of McDermott's writing is that she can make even Marie's run-of-the-mill life one for the record books.
September 9, 2013 Daniel Woodrell's new novel explores the lingering consequences of an explosion in an Ozarks dance hall that kills 42 people. It wasn't an accident, but the book isn't about a hunt for the murderer. Instead, reviewer Ellah Allfrey says, it's a remarkable study of a surviving sister's life and grief.
September 8, 2013 Sheri Fink's Five Days At Memorial, describes the horrific conditions at a New Orleans hospital shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Facing floodwaters and corporate mismanagement, some staffers euthanized sick patients. Fink's judgment of those actions is admirably — and frustratingly — nuanced.
September 13, 2013 Reviewer Susan Jane Gilman wasn't impressed by the title of Someone, but she says Alice McDermott's novel is nowhere near as generic as its name. Nothing extraordinary happens to the Irish-American protagonist, but with spare poetry and deep compassion, McDermott makes familiar territory seem new.
September 12, 2013 Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens sketches a history of the American left that is at once intimate and expansive. Out of the lives of a few conflicted characters, reviewer Mohsin Hamid explains, the book lends depth and emotion to events that affected millions.
September 11, 2013 Tom Perrotta has been called "the Steinbeck of suburbia" for his depictions of self-sabotaging adolescents and foolish middle-class adults. His new book — his first short-story collection in 19 years — is full of strong but repetitive stories, sad tales of failures earnestly yearning to do better.