Summer House with Swimming Pool, by Herman Koch. Dutch author Koch made quite a name for himself among American readers in 2012 with the US release of his psychological thriller The Dinner. Now he's back with a novel that critics are already hailing as "razor-sharp" and "compulsively readable"--a medical procedure goes wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier is dead, and everyone is looking to Dr. Marc Schlosser for answers. Truly, Marc isn't sorry Ralph is dead and he knows he can't hide from the truth forever. The story between the two men goes further back, to a summer vacation that ended badly for all involved. I'm very interested to see how this latest from Koch fares with readers, since the critics are already enamored.
Mambo in Chinatown, by Jean Kwok. The author of 2010's very successful Girl in Translation has returned with a story of a sheltered young woman who has grown up within the confines of New York City's Chinatown. Though born in America, Charlie Wong has seen very little outside of her small neighborhood where she lives, with her widowered father and younger sister, and works very unhappily as a dishwasher. It is only after Charlie lands a new job as a receptionist in a ballroom dance studio that she finally comes into her own after an interval of awkward adjustments. When tragedy again strikes her small family, however, Charlie is forced to evaluate the conflicting influences of East and West in her life. Book clubs take note--there would be a lot to discuss here!
I’ll Be Right There, by Kyung-sook Shin. Shin returns after 2011's successful Please Look After Mom (which was a world-wide bestseller translated into thirty languages) with this new offering, following Jung Yoon in 1980's South Korea as she recounts her own background and those of three friends among political turmoil. A chain of poignantly-recounted formative experiences, this is sure to please fans of her previous work. American readers might also be interested to know that Shin has actually written seventeen novels and is South Korea's most widely-read and acclaimed novelists.
Road Ends, by Mary Lawson. You'll have to forgive me if I've saved my personal favorite for the last offering in this post. Lawson is one of those authors who is not prolific, but when she does come out with a new novel, readers sit up and take notice. Twelve years ago, I fell utterly in love with her prose in her debut novel, Crow Lake. I can tell you that in over a decade, I've read hundreds if not thousands of books. Crow Lake is one which has stuck with me, continuing to resonate years later. Lawson returned to her home setting of Ontario, Canada in 2006's The Other Side of the Bridge, again exploring family conflict in a rural setting to beautifully haunting effect.
Now, readers are being gifted with Road Ends, in which twenty-one-year-old Megan Cartwright, the second-oldest of seven children and the caregiver of the family, has finally decided to leave the small community of Struan, Ontario and heads out on her own to find her own path, which takes her to London. In her absence, however, her family begins to unravel, pulling away from one another into isolation and denial. Megan is then left with the impossible choice: family or independence.
I'll be back next Tuesday with my final batch of picks for June. In the meantime, happy reading!