Fiction & Literature Book Reviews

BACKLANDS by Victoria Shorr
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 11, 2015

"More long-form ode than rigorously plotted page-turner, Shorr's lyrical exploration of these Brazilian folk heroes is as much a study of love as of the shifting emotional terrain of an entire country."
Shorr's debut novel is a fictionalized rendering of the interior lives of real-life 20th-century Brazilian folk heroes Lampião and Maria Bonita as they meet, fall in love, and travel the countryside with their gang of outlaws. Read full book review >
THE MOUNTAIN STORY by Lori Lansens
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"If nature's danger and beauty are extreme here, the characters too seem melodramatically extreme in their sentimental goodness (and evil)."
In Lansens' latest (The Wife's Tale, 2010, etc.), a teenage boy finds himself stranded on a mountain with three women he doesn't know and must overcome not only the natural elements, but his own fears and guilt.Read full book review >

HOUSEBREAKING by Dan Pope
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"Well-grounded but a little too busy for its own good."
Adultery, one of fiction's inexhaustible treasure-troves, is the main attraction in this second novel from Pope (In the Cherry Tree, 2003).Read full book review >
ONLY THE STRONG by Jabari Asim
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"You will rarely find a historical novel that's as panoramic yet also as lean, mean, and moving as this."
An epic saga of 1970s African-American life in a Midwestern city is neatly, deftly, and evocatively compressed into three tales with overlapping characters—and destinies. Read full book review >
HYACINTH GIRLS by Lauren Frankel
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"Hell hath no misery like a mean girl scorned."
When a bully turns into a target, it's hard to know whom to blame. And, as this twisty debut demonstrates, whom to believe. Read full book review >

THE MAKING OF ZOMBIE WARS by Aleksandar Hemon
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"Fun, though, for Hemon fans who want to see him work in a different mode."
One of America's finest authors of somber novels about alienation brings a newbie's enthusiasm to a comic novel—about alienation, of course. Read full book review >
ALMOST CRIMSON by Dasha Kelly
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"A multilayered exploration of the intricate nature of family ties in defining who we are—and how, ultimately, we can choose who we want to become."
Twenty-eight-year-old accounts manager Cece Weathers has spent her life taking care of her sick mother after her father, a traumatized Vietnam vet, abandoned them before she was born. Read full book review >
GIRL AT WAR by Sara Novic
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"Elegiac, and understandably if unrelievedly so, with a matter-of-factness about death and uprootedness. A promising start."
Understated, self-assured roman à clef of a young girl's coming of age in war-torn Croatia. Read full book review >
THE DEATH'S HEAD CHESS CLUB by John Donoghue
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"That's quite a talking cure."
This first novel ambitiously and awkwardly examines questions of guilt and forgiveness arising from the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Read full book review >
THE BOOK OF ARON by Jim Shepard
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"Ordinary people reveal dimensions that are extraordinarily cruel or kind."
An understated and devastating novel of the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation, as seen through the eyes of a street-wise boy. Read full book review >
THE ANCHORESS by Robyn Cadwallader
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"Sympathetic, fully realized characters and good use of period details make this a winning work of historical fiction."
Quiet, assured debut novel set in medieval England, concerning a young woman's entry into the religious life—one as tumultuous as anything on the outside. Read full book review >
THE BLACK SNOW by Paul Lynch
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"Lynch evokes so many shades of guilt, pride, innocence, righteousness, and punishment that the book might help found a religion or maybe restore one's faith in a deity that could make a fine writer with one hand even if he unmade the Kanes with the other."
Life turns brutally cruel for a farming family of three in 1940s Ireland in this sad, haunting novel from a writer with a gift for language and character. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Mona Eltahawy
April 28, 2015

In her debut book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, Egyptian-American journalist and commentator Mona Eltahawy mounts an angry indictment of the treatment of women throughout the Arab world. Born in Egypt, she spent her childhood in London, moving with her family to Saudi Arabia when she was 15. Her shock was immediate and visceral: “It felt as though we’d moved to another planet whose inhabitants fervently wished women did not exist,” she recalls. Women could not travel, work or even go to a doctor’s appointment without male approval. We talk to Eltahawy this week on Kirkus TV about her arresting new book. View video >