In Saadawi's Baghdad, strange things are afoot. There have been sightings of a grotesque figure on a killing spree without any apparent motive or pattern. A junk dealer who goes by the name Hadi has been claiming that the criminal is a corpse made out of different body parts from different victims of several bombings in Baghdad. Such is the basic set up of Ahmed Saadawi's novel which uses its supernatural premise to explore the lives of the people affected by secular violence that has been plaguing Iraq ever since the American occupation and the lives of the people affected. It is a visceral and harrowing novel worthy of its literary namesake.
In Aciman's masterpiece and most well-known work, he introduces us to 17-year-old Elio and his love affair with 24-year-old Oliver during one summer in Italy. They go from wary strangers to kindred friends and then finally to passionate lovers. Aciman takes us into the highs and the lows of a young man's sexual and romantic awakening with such narrative skill that, despite the narrative specificity and the trapped-in-time quality of the novel, everyone can still recognize the rapture that accompanies desire and longing. Matched with lyrical writing and penetrating insight, Call Me by Your Name secures its place as a modern masterpiece.
Most depictions of the apocalypse in pop culture follow a certain motif: a kinetic and action-packed narrative featuring a hyper-masculine protagonist. Megan Hunter's The End We Start From does not follow that motif. The novel instead features a strong female protagonist who just gave birth just as the oceans begins to engulf most of England and her quest to find a safe place for her newborn son. Told in disjointed vignettes reminiscent of Joan Didion, The End We Start From is a ruminative novel about the hardships a mother would endure to ensure the survival of her child.