Summer Reading

Some other summer reading possibilities ...

Idiots: Five Fairy Tales and Other Stories

by Jakob Arjouni

Other, $19

Hailed at 19 as Germany's own Chandler or Hammett – comparisons that the author all but begged for with Happy Birthday, Turk! – Arjouni switches gears 20 years later to craft a collection that owes more to the absurdity and sharp eye for hypocrisy of Bulgakov. Its high points are the title story and "A Friend," which begins, "It was all the weather's fault, or I can tell you I'd never have taken the job." The translation, by Anthea Bell, is nearly note-perfect.

Cast of Shadows

by Kevin Guilfoile

Knopf, $24.95 contributor's first novel is one that combines a shrewd sense of genre – at its leanest level, it's a murder mystery – with a politically inclined grip of the zeitgeist, as a father clones the DNA of his daughter's killer to find some kind of closure.

In the Shadows of the Sun

by Alexander Parsons

Talese, $23.95

We don't often think of a novel that begins with the Bataan Death March and swings back to a New Mexico ranch family facing eviction by the War Department as a beach read, but former Austinite Parsons (Leaving Disneyland) has put forth such a fine effort – after five years of intensive research – that it's a pleasure no matter where you are or what you're doing.

The Almond

by Nedjma

Grove, $22

Written under a pseudonym by someone "in her forties" who "lives in the Maghreb region," The Almond is breathtaking autobiographical erotica heightened by its sociopolitical implications. Powerful, sexy, lush, and important.

The Closed Circle

by Jonathan Coe

Knopf, $25

The master satirist and storyteller homes in on Blair's Britain by bringing back his cast of characters from 2002's The Rotters' Club.

Choir Boy

by Charlie Anders

Soft Skull, $16.95

In order to remain a choir boy for as long possible, Berry staves off puberty by getting a clinic to administer him testosterone inhibitors. The drugs don't stop there, though, and gender confusion can now be officially added to the coming-of-age canon with Anders' funny, sharp, and fully engaging first novel.

The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank

by David Plotz

Random House, $24.95)

The Repository for Germinal Choice gets a wider gaze from the Slate deputy editor, who started this story in 2001 by soliciting e-mails from anyone who "knew anything about the bank," which had shuttered in 1999. A fascinating finished product, still rife with impending questions, but admirably reported and expertly related.

The Quince Seed Potion

by Morteza Baharloo

Bridge Works, $23.95

A plain-spoken miniepic of Iran, the Houston resident's debut climaxes with the 1979 revolution, when its protagonist, the servant Sarveali Jokar, loses almost everything in gaining a sense of an ancient world changing.
  • Summer Reading

  • The Coast of Akron

    It's been said that behind every great man there's a woman, but Adrienne Miller kicks it up a notch

    The Missing Person

    This auspicious debut, begun at the Michener Center for Writers, isn't a mystery yarn or a family gothic, a romance, or a satire of radical environmentalism. It's all of the above and then some.

    Dark Matter, Reading the Bones: Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora

    For those new to speculative fiction in general and African-American writers of the form in particular, the newest 'Dark Matter' anthology, edited by Sheree Thomas, is the perfect guide

    The R. Crumb Handbook

    The familiar self-portrait on the front cover of 'The R. Crumb Handbook' offers a warning before you crack the spine:'I'm not here to be polite!'

    Contrabando: Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy

    He spent seven years smuggling marijuana into the United States over the border from Mexico and somehow lived to write about it

    The People of Paper

    Rarely does a novel succeed in strengthening itself through its own dismantling
  • Saturday

    Ian McEwan's observation of human experience is unflaggingly acute

    The Closers

    Michael Connelly's ace homicide detective Harry Bosch is back with LAPD after three years' retirement


    Anyone familiar with the musical output of John Wesley Harding (né Wesley Stace) knows that the artist possesses a sly wit and literary ear that sets him apart from his fellow folk singers

    Bitter Milk

    One big, crippling thought that makes you wonder how long John McManus has been waiting to confide it, this naturalistic first novel from the former Michener fellow and author of the short-story collections 'Born on a Train' and 'Stop Breakin Down' takes place in late-Eighties East Tennessee at the base of a ridge in the Smokies


    In 'Embroideries,' Marjane Satrapi again returns to the Iran of her youth, this time taking readers to a more intimate place, the space inhabited by women

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