Twenty times a semester I analyze novels and short stories for insights into literacy craft. Given my hundreds of hours and thousands of words, you’d think that when friends ask me to recommend a book I’d flip through my mental card catalog and suggest a title that fits like a glove. Not so much. Remember the last time you asked your partner to suggest a place for dinner? They offered Italian and you suddenly craved Chinese.
I’m a writer. I get enough rejection without seeking it from friends. But, I will highlight four books for your consideration. If none of them appeals, I understand. Sometimes ya just gotta have sushi.
If you’ve never read flash fiction, start here. In one hundred and thirty pages, Israeli born Keret offers twenty stories and a twenty-six-chapter novella, Kneller’s Happy Campers, whose characters “live” in the hereafter.
On Canaan’s Side: A Novel by Sebastian Barry won the 2012 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. In her eighty-ninth year, Lilly Bere remembers her loves and losses in Ireland and America. A poet and playwright before he became a novelist, Barry’s prose is among the best. If you choose this book, let’s share a cup of tea over the lyric but ambiguous ending.
In Brooklyn: A Novel, Colm Toibin sees through Eilis Lacey eyes as she moves from Ireland to New York in the 1950s. Through vivid descriptions and rich internal dialogue, we share Eilis’ indecision as she chooses between countries, careers, and husbands.
I can’t forget my faculty mentor’s work, The Turk and My Mother: A Novel. Mary Helen Stefaniak tells George’s family story across four generations and two continents from Croatia to Milwaukee. George, his grandmother and former girlfriend offer family stories including what really happened between George’s mother and the Turk.
Do drop me a line with your reactions, good or bad, to any of these books. I’m eager to hear what you think. On to the next twenty!