Adrian Liang: I’m reading two very different novels this weekend, one about ending a relationship and the other about beginning one. A Separation by Katie Kitamura pins the reader deep in the mind of the protagonist, who separated from her husband several months ago and has even moved in with her new boyfriend, but she cannot tell her mother-in-law no when asked to go to the Greek coast to track down her missing spouse. Kitamura’s spare, powerfully internal tale is not straightforward, and the protagonist’s emotions seem even a mystery to herself as she considers the unspooling of her marriage. I’m looking forward to learning how Kitamura concludes this slim but mighty novel. On a more upbeat note, Kari Lynn Dell’s romance Tangled in Texas forces bronco-riding rodeo star Delon Sanchez to work with his ex-girlfriend Tori Patterson on his physical therapy after he shatters his knee in a riding accident. Widowed a year previously, Tori only wants to bury herself in her job and get through grieving, but Delon’s presence reminds her daily of the past mistakes they made. The ending of romance novels is rarely in doubt, but Dell’s doing a marvelous job so far of setting Delon and Tori on a very rocky path.
Erin Kodicek: I'm excited to dig deeper into Jami Attenberg's upcoming, All Grown Up. It's a smart and acerbicly witty novel about a single, childless woman who is pushing 40 and deigns to be unapologetic about it! Sometimes society treats such women as if they are somehow tainted, or lacking in some way, but the heroine, Andrea Bern, bucks convention and lives according to her own playbook. This character trait reminds me of the protagonist in Attenberg's wonderful, Saint Mazie. Based on the real Mazie Gordon-Phillips--a hard-drinkin’ goodtime girl with a heart of gold who helped the homeless in the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the Great Depression, it's actually a pretty great tonic for these uncertain, cynical times.
Jon Foro: I suppose I should be reading for March; there are several good-looking things coming, including a collection of Jim Harrison’s food writing, a new novel by Peter Heller, and a book of short stories that’s been described as “Wallace Stegner on peyote.” But since we might not make it till then, I’m going to get a jump on June’s Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean. It’s the true story of two Norwegian weirdoes (I say it with love) who embark on a Mellvillian/Hemingwayesque quest to catch a Greenland shark, a leviathan more than 25 feet long and weighing more than a ton. What the extensive subtitle doesn’t tell you is that its blood contains a hallucinogenic toxin, and they aim to drink it.
Sarah Harrison Smith: With the plight of war refugees so much in the news, I’m interested in Alia Malek’s The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria, which Nation Books is publishing next month. Malek, a civil rights lawyer who has won prizes for her journalism in the New York Times, uses the multigenerational story of her family and their home in Damascus as a prism through which to view Syria’s history, and in particular, the destruction caused by the Assad regime. I’m looking forward to learning more about this once-beautiful country through Malek’s heartfelt narrative.