NPR Bestsellers: Paperback Fiction, Week Of July 21, 2011As a Rome-based newspaper falls apart, the men and women who produce it try to hold their own lives together. Author Tom Rachman draws on experience as a foreign correspondent in The Imperfectionists, which enjoys its 28th week on the list.
Limited and persecuted by racial divides in 1962 Jackson, Miss., three women — an African-American maid, her sassy and chronically unemployed friend (also a maid) and a recently graduated white woman — team up for a clandestine project.
Weeks on List: 17
A Visit from the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan
Paperback, 340 pages, Random House Inc, $14.95, published March 22 2011|purchase
Working side by side for a record label, former punk rocker Bennie Salazar and the passionate Sasha hide illicit secrets from one another while interacting with a motley assortment of equally troubled people from 1970s San Francisco to the postwar future.
Weeks on List: 77
Cutting for Stone
by Abraham Verghese
Paperback, 667 pages, Random House Inc, $15.95, published January 26 2010|purchase
Twin brothers born from a secret love affair between an Indian nun and a British surgeon in Addis Ababa, Marion and Shiva Stone come of age in Ethiopia, where their love for the same woman drives them apart.
Weeks on List: 10
by Emma Donoghue
Paperback, 352 pages, Little Brown & Co, $14.99, published May 5 2011|purchase
Planning to run away with his girlfriend to London in the hopes of escaping poverty, Frank concludes he has been dumped when Rosie fails to join him and is astonished when Rosie's suitcase and evidence of foul play are discovered more than 20 years later.
Weeks on List: 33
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simonson
Paperback, 368 pages, Random House Inc, $15, published November 30 2010|purchase
Forced to confront the realities of life in the 21st century when he falls in love with Pakistani widow Mrs. Ali, Major Pettigrew finds the relationship challenged by local prejudices that view Mrs. Ali, a Cambridge native, as a perpetual foreigner.
Weeks on List: 129
Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen
Paperback, 350 pages, Workman Pub Co, $14.95, published March 1 2011|purchase
Ninety-something-year-old Jacob Jankowski remembers his time in the circus as a young man during the Great Depression, and his friendship with Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, and Rosie, the elephant, who gave them hope.
Weeks on List: 110
The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
Paperback, 321 pages, HarperCollins, $14.99, published June 1 2009|purchase
Faithful canine Enzo, on the eve of his death, takes stock of his life while recalling the sacrifices, unexpected losses and personal struggles of his would-be race car driver human, Denny, in the latter's efforts to retain custody of his daughter.
Weeks on List: 24
by Sarah Blake
Paperback, 371 pages, Penguin Group USA, $15, published February 1 2011|purchase
The stories of a Cape Cod postmistress and an American radio reporter stationed in London collide on the eve of the United States' entrance into World War II, a meeting shaped by a broken promise to deliver a letter.
Weeks on List: 4
by Carl Hiaasen
Paperback, 354 pages, Grand Central Pub, $14.99, published June 21 2011|purchase
Ann DeLuisa, body double for drug-addled pop star Cherry Pye, is kidnapped by an obsessed paparazzo, and Cherry's entourage must rescue her while keeping her existence a secret from Cherry's public—and from Cherry herself.
Weeks on List: 3
by David Nicholls
Paperback, 437 pages, Random House Inc, $14.95, published May 24 2011|purchase
David Nicholls' romantic comedy One Day has become one of Britain's most popular novels. Each chapter is a snapshot of where July 15 finds the main characters over the 20 years following their high school graduation, as they keep finding — and just missing — each other.
Weeks on List: 6
A Dog's Purpose
by W. Bruce Cameron
Paperback, 333 pages, St Martins Pr, $12.99, published May 24 2011|purchase
Searching for his purpose over the course of multiple canine lives, Bailey is reborn as a golden-haired puppy after a tragic death as a stray and shares a loving bond with young Ethan before he again dies and starts over.
Weeks on List: 28
by Tom Rachman
Paperback, 281 pages, Random House Inc, $15, published January 4 2011|purchase
Preoccupied by personal challenges while running a struggling newspaper in Rome, an obituary writer confronts mortality, an eccentric publisher obsesses over his dog, and other staff members uncover the paper's founding by an impulsive millionaire.
Weeks on List: 74
by Chris Cleave
Paperback, 271 pages, Simon & Schuster, $15, published February 16 2010|purchase
The Somerset Maugham Award-winning author of Incendiary presents a tale of a precarious friendship between an illegal Nigerian refugee and a recent widow from suburban London, a story told from the alternating and disparate perspectives of both women.
Weeks on List: 2
by Ellen Sussman
Paperback, 242 pages, Random House Inc, $15, published July 5 2011|purchase
A single day in Paris changes the lives of three Americans as they each set off to explore the city with a French tutor, learning about language, love, and loss as their lives intersect in surprising ways.
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