December 13, 2012 2012 was a very jittery year — what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and the looming "fiscal cliff." Fresh Air critic Maureen Corrigan found that her favorite fiction and nonfiction this year directly confronted the atmospheric uncertainty of the age.
December 7, 2012 Two new biographical studies that read like novels explore the familial relationships that shaped two of the 19th century's most beloved authors. Critic Maureen Corrigan calls Great Expectations: The Sons And Daughters Of Charles Dickens "a Gothic nightmare" and Marmee & Louisa "a romance."
November 20, 2012 Jami Attenberg's black comedy about the fallout of one woman's food addiction is a tough but affecting story about family members putting up with each other. Critic Maureen Corrigan says the novel's fragmented narration and jumpy timeline add to its emotional punch.
November 14, 2012 The novelist has won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award. His latest novel, however, earns the ire of critic Maureen Corrigan, who usually numbers among McEwan's fans but finds herself dismayed by this book's attitudes toward women.
November 5, 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo began looking out for his mother early in life. In his new memoir, Elsewhere, Russo writes not only of his mother, but of the vanished world that shaped her. Critic Maureen Corrigan calls the book "gorgeously nuanced."
October 11, 2012 In A.M. Homes' suburbia, yawning sinkholes will suddenly open up in front lawns, swallowing cliched plotlines and opening portals to other dimensions. In her latest novel, she serves up an old-fashioned American story that's more Norman Bates than Norman Rockwell.
October 4, 2012 Junot Diaz's electric new collection of short stories centers around Yunior, a macho yet mournful Dominican-American man. In these stories about love, lust and infidelity, a good man is hard to find — and when he is found, he's always in bed with someone else.
September 25, 2012 Charles Rowan Beye has been married three times — to two women and a man. Now, over age 80, he looks back on his life and asks, "What was that all about?" Critic Maureen Corrigan says Beye's memoir, subtitled "A Gay Man's Odyssey," is a complex, poignant addition to the sexual canon.
September 12, 2012 Marco Roth grew up on New York's Upper West Side in the 1980s, where a liberal Jewish culture infused with European tastes was breathing its last gasps. In his memoir, Roth describes how he learned — years after his father died from AIDS — that his father was probably gay.
August 27, 2012 Juliet Barker has released a new edition of her landmark 1994 biography, The Brontes. Critic Maureen Corrigan says that even the 136 pages of footnotes are "thrilling," as readers are taken "deeper into the everyday realities" of the Brontes' "strange world."
August 7, 2012 Most people's after-midnight mishaps are nothing compared with what David K. Randall describes in his new book. From people committing murder while supposedly sleepwalking, to what sleep was like in medieval times, Dreamland provides a lively overview of the world's most popular nocturnal pastime.
August 2, 2012 Tana French's latest novel follows Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, a police detective with a rage for order, as he investigates a young family's murder in a suburban Dublin development gone bust. Critic Maureen Corrigan says Broken Harbor is as much social criticism as it is whodunit.