In February we’ll be reading a book published in 2016 that we haven’t gotten to yet. Together with our book clubbers we picked five novels for you vote on. You get to vote for two books in this online poll and we’ll bring the top 2 with us to the book club for a final vote!
Who Will Catch Us As We Fall
Haunted by a past that has kept her from Nairobi for over three years, Leena returns home to discover her family unchanged: her father is still a staunch patriot dreaming of a better country; her mother is still unwilling or unable to let go of the past, and her brother spends his days provoking the establishment as a political activist. When Leena meets a local Kikuyu artist whose past is linked to her own, the two begin a secret affair—one that forces Leena to again question her place in a country she once called home.
Interlinked with Leena’s story is that of Jeffery: a corrupt policeman burdened with his own anger and regrets, and whose questionable actions have unexpected and catastrophic consequences for those closest to him. Who Will Catch Us As We Fall is an epic look at the politics and people of Kenya.
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
On a wintry afternoon in New York City, Melody, Beatrice and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, who has just been released from rehab. Leo’s bad behavior before entering rehab, culminating in a car crash while under the influence—a nineteen-year-old waitress beside him—has left the Plumbs’ joint trust fund—“The Nest,” as they’ve taken to calling it—endangered. All four siblings, at very different places in their lives, believe that this money will solve a host of self-inflicted problems and their consequences. And until Leo’s accident, they’d been mere months away from receiving it.
Can Leo get the Plumbs out of this mess, as he’s always been able to do for himself before? Or will the Plumb siblings have to do without the money and the future lives they’ve envisioned? As the siblings grapple with family tensions, old histories, and the significant emotional and financial cost of the accident, Sweeney introduces an unforgettable cast of supporting characters: Leo’s stalwart ex-girlfriend who now thinks that maybe, just maybe, he is capable of change; the waitress whose life was shattered in the accident; the Iraqi war veteran who falls in love with her; and a retired, grieving firefighter with a very big secret.
Tender, funny and deftly written, The Nest explores what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of our lives, and the fraught but unbreakable ties we have with our families.
From a brilliant new literary talent comes a sweeping comic portrait of privilege, ambition, and friendship in millennial San Francisco. With the social acuity of Adelle Waldman and the murderous wit of Martin Amis, Tony Tulathimutte’s Private Citizens is a brainy, irreverent debut—This Side of Paradise for a new era.
Capturing the anxious, self-aware mood of young college grads in the aughts, Private Citizens embraces the contradictions of our new century: call it a loving satire. A gleefully rude comedy of manners. Middlemarch for Millennials. The novel’s four whip-smart narrators—idealistic Cory, Internet-lurking Will, awkward Henrik, and vicious Linda—are torn between fixing the world and cannibalizing it. In boisterous prose that ricochets between humor and pain, the four estranged friends stagger through the Bay Area’s maze of tech startups, protestors, gentrifiers, karaoke bars, house parties, and cultish self-help seminars, washing up in each other’s lives once again.
A wise and searching depiction of a generation grappling with privilege and finding grace in failure, Private Citizens is as expansively intelligent as it is full of heart.
It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paint Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.
To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye’s losses but also his own lost love and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother and himself.
Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the color hit of Pop Art – via a bit of very contemporary skulduggery and skullduggery – Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture, and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means.
Autumn is the first installment in Ali Smith’s novel quartet Seasonal: four standalone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are), exploring what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.
From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves.
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