The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver

The Lacuna (HarperCollins, $26.99) is an engrossing historical fiction, told as the journals of Harrison Shepherd, a fictional author who reflects on the crowds, caprices, and injustices of 20th-century North America. This is the first novel in nine years by Barbara Kingsolver, and it boasts her courageous—but always literary—concern for injustice and cultural difference. Born into a confused heritage—his father absent, his mother Mexican—Harrison’s experience encapsulates that of both countries: through his eyes we witness the Bonus Army riots, the murals of Diego Rivera, Trotsky’s assassination, World War II metal drives, and the McCarthy trials. Lively renderings of Frida Kahlo, Trotsky, and even Richard Nixon combine with documentary support from Times articles (authentic and fabricated) and a heartbreaking concern for the fate of truth in the infancy of the media age to create the rare sort of novel that is both totally absorbing in its fiction and yet profoundly engages the reader with the world of fact beyond its pages.

The Lacuna: A Novel By Barbara Kingsolver Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060852580
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Harper Perennial - July 20th, 2010

The Rules of the Game - Leonard Jr Downie

Leonard Downie, Jr., the former executive editor of the Washington Post, read at P&P from his new Washington thriller, The Rules of the Game, his first venture into the world of fiction. I had many dog-eared pages to ask Len Downie about. The most obvious question was whether his female vice-president, who becomes president, was modeled after Sarah Palin. No, the character was conceived some five years ago, but Downie humorously brushed aside a suggestion that his predictions for the future were remarkably accurate. A customer asked whether the main character, a female investigative reporter who receives constant 4 a.m. phone calls from an anonymous source, was modeled on anyone, and Downie revealed that actually it was he who had been frequently awakened in the early hours of the morning, and warned about terrible consequences if the Post continued its coverage, when the Post was investigating Oliver North's role in Iran-Contra! Aside from these juicy tidbits about the rearrangement of the real world into fiction, Downie's The Rules of the Game is a great page-turner with an attendant higher purpose: the ethical conundrums of politics and journalism as they are both played out in Washington.

Lima Nights - Marie Arana

My one consolation from the folding of the Washington Post's "Book World" is that editor Marie Arana will have more time to write fiction now that she has taken off her green shade. Some two years ago, what I think is her first novel, Cellophane, appeared, a novel that I loved and have handsold to many customers. In rich, dense, sensuous writing about four generations a Peruvian family in the Amazon, Arana's imaginative story is memorable in its characters. Now I have finished Arana's second novel, the just-published Lima Nights. Just as I suspected, the characters are outsized and colorful; the story travels along with many unexpected twists and turns. Arana loves all her characters, and in writing about them she spreads her affections, even to meandering husbands. But what I loved most about Lima is the way in which Arana turned what could have been a moral tale into a bang-up ending featuring a lawyer, a psychiatrist, a fortune-teller, and a psychic all richly adding their interpretations to the failed relationship of our heroine, Maria.

Lima Nights By Marie Arana Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385342582
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: The Dial Press - December 30th, 2008