West Bloomfield Township Public Library
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Author Picks - Elena Ferrante

The author of "My Brilliant Friend" shares a list of her favorite books by female authors

Americanah : a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected"--

Enlightenment of the greengage tree by Shokoofeh Azar

Set in Iran in the decade following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this moving, richly imagined novel is narrated by the ghost of Bahar, a thirteen-year-old girl, whose family is compelled to flee their home in Tehran for a new life in a small village, hoping in this way to preserve both their intellectual freedom and their lives. But they soon find themselves caught up in the post-revolutionary chaos that sweeps across their ancient land. Bahar's mother, after a tragic loss, will embark on a long, eventful journey in search of meaning in a world swept up in the post-revolutionary madness

Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

"Now a New Directions book, the legendary novel that is 'equal to the best of Virginia Woolf and Samuel Beckett' (New York Times Book Review) Malina invites the reader on a linguistic journey, into a world that stretches the very limits of language with Wittgensteinian zeal and Joycean inventiveness, where Ingeborg Bachmann ventriloquizes?and in the process demolishes?Proust, Musil, and Balzac, and yet filters everything through her own utterly singular idiom. Malina is, quite simply, unlike anything else; it's a masterpiece. In Malina, Bachmann uses the intertwined lives of three characters to explore the roots of society's breakdown that lead to fascism, and in Bachmann's own words, 'it doesn't start with the first bombs that are dropped; it doesn't start with the terror that can be written about in every newspaper. It starts with relationships between people. Fascism is the first thing in the relationship between a man and a woman, and I attempted to say that here in this society there is always war. There isn't war and peace, there's only war.'"--

A manual for cleaning women : selected stories by Lucia Berlin

Outline : a novel by Rachel Cusk

Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and stark, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinners and discourse. She goes swimming with an elderly Greek bachelor. The people she encounters speak, volubly, about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss

The year of magical thinking by Joan Didion

""Life changes fast. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years. The weeks and months that followed "cut loose any fixed idea I had about death, about illness, about probability and luck-- about marriage and children and memory-- about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself." In The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion explores with electric honesty and passion a private yet universal experience. Her portrait of a marriage-- and a life, in good times and bad-- will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, a wife, or a child" -- from publisher's web site

A girl returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

"Set against the stark, beautiful landscape of Abruzzo in central Italy, this is a compelling story about mothers and daughters, about responsibility, siblings, and caregiving. Without warning or explanation, an unnamed 13-year-old girl is sent away from the family she has always thought of as hers to live with her birth family : a large, chaotic assortment of individuals whom she has never met and who seem anything but welcoming. Thus begins a new life, one of struggle, tension, and conflict, especially between the young girl and her mother. But in her relationship with Adriana and Vincenzo, two of her newly acquired siblings, she will find the strength to start again and to build a new and enduring sense of self. "--Publisher description

Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

"Kimiâ Sadr fled Iran at the age of ten in the company of her mother and sisters to join her father in France. Now twenty-five and facing the future she has built for herself as well as the prospect of a new generation, Kimiâ is inundated by her own memories and the stories of her ancestors, which come to her in unstoppable, uncontainable waves. In the waiting room of a Parisian fertility clinic, generations of flamboyant Sadrs return to her, including her formidable great-grandfather Montazemolmolk, with his harem of fifty-two wives, and her parents, Darius and Sara, stalwart opponents of each regime that befalls them."--Amazon

A family lexicon by Natalia Ginzburg

"Natalia Ginzburg, one of Italy's great writers, introduced A Family Lexicon, her most celebrated work, with an unusual disclaimer: "The places, events and people are all real. I have invented nothing. Every time that I have found myself inventing something in accordance with my old habits as a novelist, I have felt impelled at once to destroy everything thus invented." A Family Lexicon re-creates with extraordinary objectivity the small world of a family enduring some of the most difficult years of the twentieth century, the period from the rise of Mussolini through World War II (Ginzburg's first husband, who was a member of the resistance, was killed by the Nazis) and its immediate aftermath. Every family has its store of phrases and sayings by which itmaintains its sense of what it means to be a family. Such sayings and stories lie at the heart of a great novel about family and history"--

The conservationist by Nadine Gordimer

Mehring, a rich, powerful and vital industrialist, has all the privileges and possessions that South Africa has to offer. But his possessions refuse to remain objects: his wife, son, and mistress leave him; his foreman and workers become increasingly indifferent to his stewardship; and even the land rises up, as drought, then flood, destroy his farm. Nadine Gordimer, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature, paints a fascinating portrait of a man both reckless and calculating, a "conservationist" left only with the possibility of self-preservation, in this subtle and detailed study of the forces and relationships that seethe in South Africa today. Joint winner of the Booker Prize

Fates and furies by Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies is a dazzling examination of a marriage, and a portrait of creative partnership. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed

Motherhood by Sheila Heti

Breasts and eggs by Mieko Kawakami

The story of three women by a writer hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan's most important contemporary novelist, WINNER OF THE AKUTAGAWA PRIZE. "Breasts and Eggs took my breath away."-HARUKI MURAKAMI Challenging every preconception about storytelling and prose style, mixing wry humor and riveting emotional depth, Kawakami is today one of Japan's most important and best-selling writers. She exploded onto the cultural scene first as a musician, then as a poet and popular blogger, and is now an award-winning novelist. Breasts and Eggs paints a portrait of contemporary womanhood in Japan and recounts the intimate journeys of three women as they confront oppressive mores and their own uncertainties on the road to finding peace and futures they can truly call their own. It tells the story of three women: the thirty-year-old Natsu, her older sister, Makiko, and Makiko's daughter, Midoriko. Makiko has traveled to Tokyo in search of an affordable breast enhancement procedure. She is accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with growing up. Her silence proves a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and frustrations. On another hot summer's day ten years later, Natsu, on a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless. Kawakami's first novella My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, published in Japan in 2007, was awarded the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers. The following year, she published Breasts and Eggs as a short novella, and won praise from Yoko Ogawa and Haruki Murakami. The newly expanded Breasts and Eggs is her first novel to be published in English. "Mieko Kawakami's first full-scale novel to be translated from Japanese into English reveals what a Catherine Wheel of talent she is, how unplaceable and unique. How forceful. […] The way she moves among her characters here will make clear why Breasts and Eggs is the Makioka Sisters of its time."-John Freeman in Literary Hub "Mieko Kawakami lobbed a literary grenade into the fusty, male-dominated world of Japanese fiction with Breasts and Eggs."-The Economist

Interpreter of maladies : stories by Jhumpa Lahiri

Stories about Indians in India and America. The story, A Temporary Matter, is on mixed marriage, Mrs. Sen's is on the adaptation of an immigrant to the U.S., and in the title story an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors

Lost children archive : a novel by Valeria Luiselli

"From the two-time NBCC Finalist, a fiercely imaginative novel about a family's summer road trip across America--a journey that, with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity, probes the nature of justice and equality in America today.A mother and father set out with their kids from New York to Arizona. In their used Volvo--and with their ten-year-old son trying out his new Polaroid camera--the family is heading for the Apacheria: the region the Apaches once called home, and where theghosts of Geronimo and Cochise might still linger. The father, a sound documentarist, hopes to gather an "inventory of echoes" from this historic, mythic place. The mother, a radio journalist, becomes consumed by the news she hears on the car radio, about the thousands of children trying to reach America but getting stranded at the southern border, held in detention centers, or being sent back to their homelands, to an unknown fate. But as the family drives farther west--through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas--we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, unforgettable adventure--both in the harsh desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations. Told through the voices of the mother and her son, as well as through a stunning tapestry of collected texts and images--including prior stories of migration and displacement--Lost ChildrenArchive is a story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. Blending the personal and the political with astonishing empathy, it is a powerful, wholly original work of fiction: exquisite, provocative,and deeply moving"--

Arturo's island : a novel by Elsa Morante

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement. After the Civil War ends, Sethe longingly recalls the two-year-old daughter whom she killed when threatened with recapture after escaping from slavery 18 years before

Dear life : stories by Alice Munro

A brilliant new collection of stories from one of the most acclaimed and beloved writers of our time

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

A fictional recreation of the life of Marilyn Monroe recounts the tale of her rise to stardom, as seen from Marilyn's perspective

The love object : selected stories by Edna O'Brien

The thirty-one stories collected in this volume provide, among other things, a cumulative portrait of Ireland, seen from within and without. Coming of age, the impact of class, and familial and romantic love are the prevalent motifs, along with the instinct toward escape and subsequent nostalgia for home

A good man is hard to find : and other stories by Flannery O'Connor

This now classic book revealed Flannery O'Connor as one of the most original and provocative writers to emerge from the South. Her apocalyptic vision of life is expressed through grotesque, often comic situations in which the principal character faces a problem of salvation: the grandmother, in the title story, confronting the murderous Misfit; a neglected four-year-old boy looking for the Kingdom of Christ in the fast-flowing waters of the river; General Sash, about to meet the final enemy. Stories included are "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", "The River", "The Life You Save May Be Your Own", "A Stroke of Good Fortune", "A Temple of the Holy Ghost", "The Artificial Nigger", "A Circle in the Fire", "A Late Encounter with the Enemy", "Good Country People" and "The Displaced Person"

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

As the Reverend John Ames approaches the hour of his own death, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets

Normal people : a novel by Sally Rooney

"At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He's popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne's house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers--one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they're both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other" --

The god of small things by Arundhati Roy

In 1969 India, Rahel and her twin brother Estha struggle to forge a childhood for themselves amid the destruction of their family and the discovery that the entire world can be transformed in a single moment

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

At the edge of the continent, in the small town of Crosby, Maine, lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and in the world at large but doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her

The door by Magda Szabó

Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship with Hungary's Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda's housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda's household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love--at least until Magda's long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation

A little life : a novel by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.
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