The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend focuses on the powerful connection between a grieving woman and her dog. The unnamed female narrator inherits Apollo, a 180-pound Great Dane, from a late professor friend who committed suicide. As she comes to grips with her friend’s death, the narrator finds herself increasingly concerned for Apollo, who is also clearly mourning his owner. Because pets aren’t allowed in her apartment building, the narrator refuses to leave him alone for extended stretches of time. Although her concern for him keeps her at home—and causes her friends to question her emotional well-being—the relationship revitalizes both woman and dog. Nunez delivers a compassionate, sharply realized study of one woman’s experience with grief, and she does so without lapsing into sentimentality. The Friend is an unforgettable exploration of loss, healing and canine love.
That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam
Affluent white couple Rebecca and Christopher decide to adopt the infant son of their late nanny, Priscilla, who was black. Alam’s portrayal of the fraught nature of contemporary race relations rings true in this empathetic novel.
Eat the Apple by Matt Young
In his debut memoir, Young uses a wide range of narrative tones and techniques to tell the story of his years as a Marine, and how unprepared he was for the horrors that awaited him in Iraq.
Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya
Fantasy and reality intermingle in these compelling short stories, which have earned Tolstaya comparisons to Gogol and Chekhov.
The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
Nour’s family relocates to Syria when her father dies, but war forces them into exile. Her story is linked with that of a 12th-century girl who also fled her home in this powerful novel of the refugee experience.