Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Ingrid Rojas Contreras' impressive first novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, takes place in 1990s Bogotá, Colombia, when Pablo Escobar held the country in a grip of terror. The novel is narrated mainly by 7-year-old Chula Santiago, who lives with her family in the comfort of a gated community thanks to the money her father makes as an oil worker. When a maid named Petrona comes to work for the Santiagos, Chula befriends her. Petrona, who is 13, grew up in a slum. Terrorists kidnapped her father and brothers, and she is trying to support the rest of her family. As the situation worsens in Bagotá, Chula's family is able to leave. Petrona, meanwhile, becomes involved with a suspicious young man nammed Gorrión. Contreras juxtaposes the two girls' worlds with authenticity and covincing detail, and her portrayal of the social divisions and dangers of Colombian life is riveting and remarkably assured.
French Exit by Patrick deWitt
Affluent widow Frances Price comes to terms with the loss of her fortune while her son meets up with the woman he loves—and her fiancé—in deWitt's sly, sophisticated novel.
Southernmost by Silas House
In House's latest novel, small-town pastor Asher Sharp upsets his congregation when he tries to help a gay couple after a disastrous flood, an act that affects his relationship with his conservative wife and their young son and makes Asher question his own faith.
Still Livesby Maria Hummel
Kim Lord's self-portraits, inspired by female murder victims are the talk of the LA art scene. But when Kim goes missing, a young editor becomes enmeshed in the mystery of this stylish, suspenseful thriller.
Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively
In this delightful, beautifully wrought memoir, Lively meditates on how gardening has impacted her personal evolution and her work.