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Position:Book review

Literary Fiction

The Storyteller | JODI PICOULT: Picoult has 19 novels and that many hot-button topics (faith, adultery, sibling rivalry, teenage violence, mercy killing, you name it) under her belt. What is left for her to say? Plenty, it turns out. In The Storyteller, Sage Singer, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, befriends a beloved old man in her community. Then he reveals his dark secret regarding his whereabouts during World War II--and asks her to kill him.

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The Last Runaway | TRACY CHEVALIER: Chevalier's historical fiction reimagines various times, places, and people: 17th-century Dutch painter Vermeer (Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1999), 15th-century Brussels (The Lady and the Unicorn, 2003), and William Blake's 18th-century London (Burning Bright ** July/Aug 2007), among others. Her seventh novel turns to an English Quaker woman's involvement in the Underground Railroad in 19th-centu-ry America. JAN

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News from Heaven The Bakerton Stories | JENNIFER HAIGH: News from Heaven continues where Haigh's Baker Towers (**** Mar/Apr 2005) leaves off. In that earlier novel, a Polish-Italian family navigates through life in the mining town Bakerton, Pennsylvania. Now, in these linked stories, the town experiences further turbulence as characters seen in Baker Towers leave, return, and open up some Pandora's Boxes. FEB

Umbrella | WILL SELF: * BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST. English author and television personality Self, described as a satirical, grotesque writer, seeks to understand the modern world during the 20th century by chronicling the adventures of Audrey Dearth, a feminist who falls into a coma. Is Audrey's illness a sign of the troubles of modernity itself?

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Harvest | JIM CRACE: Crace, the author of the award-winning Being Dead (1999), Quarantine (1997), and other novels, draws on landscape and myth. In Harvest, three outsiders arrive on the woodland borders of a remote English village and build a makeshift camp. Then the local manor house goes up in flames, the outsiders are blamed, and justice is served--perhaps, but not before the local folk start to unravel.

The River Swimmer Novellas | JIM HAR-RISON: These two novellas feature an aging art history academic and failed artist who returns to visit his elderly mother in rural Michigan and an Upper Peninsula farmboy who deals with coming of age by following the river across Lake Michigan--and spotting some ghostly...

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