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  • Murder in mind in Karin Fossum's new thriller 'Hell Fire'

    Murder in mind in Karin Fossum's new thriller 'Hell Fire'

    With Scandinavian crime fiction all the rage and enormous attention paid to writers like Jo Nesbo, Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, it's almost, well, criminal, that Norway's Karin Fossum isn't better known.                Translated into dozens of languages and winner of the Glass Key Award...

  • In 'Uproot,' Jace Clayton takes a worldwide tour of the digital underground

    In 'Uproot,' Jace Clayton takes a worldwide tour of the digital underground

    In the spring of 1932, King Fuad I convened the Cairo Congress of Arab Music. The stated goal: “reviving and systematizing Arab music so that it will rise upon an artistic foundation, as did Western music earlier.” The advent of phonographs and radios meant that foreign music had begun to circulate...

  • Tama Janowitz memoir 'Scream' is strangely lacking; Elizabeth Hand reviews

    Tama Janowitz memoir 'Scream' is strangely lacking; Elizabeth Hand reviews

    Bright lights, big hair: Once upon a time, in a gallery somewhere in Alphabet City, you might have glimpsed the 1980s NYC literati swilling champagne and snorting Bolivian marching powder under the gleeful gaze of photogs from Interview, the Soho Weekly News and the New York Post’s Page 6. Dubbed...

  • Jung Young Moon weaves a metafictional dream in 'Vaseline Buddha'

    Jung Young Moon weaves a metafictional dream in 'Vaseline Buddha'

    There are novels that try to transport you, that in the words of Neil Gaiman act as “a dream that you hold in your hand.” If the dream succeeds, you forget the physical book you are holding and travel to Tralfamadore, Wuthering Heights, Wonderland, wherever; you live life through the eyes of the...

  • Jacqueline Woodson's 'Another Brooklyn' is a powerful adult tale of girlhood friendships

    Jacqueline Woodson's 'Another Brooklyn' is a powerful adult tale of girlhood friendships

    In 2014, Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award for young adult literature for an unusual book: a novel in verse, “Brown Girl Dreaming,” about a young girl moving with her family from a Southern town to New York. She returns to similar territory – this time, writing for adults -- in “Another...

  • A California dream dead-ends in Joe McGinniss Jr.'s 'Carousel Court'

    A California dream dead-ends in Joe McGinniss Jr.'s 'Carousel Court'

    Nick and Phoebe Maguire are a couple in their early 30s, newly relocated from the East Coast to Southern California, where Nick was supposed to start a promising public relations/filmmaking job while Phoebe took some much-needed time off following a car accident that injured both her and Jackson,...

  • What police are doing right (and wrong) with the homeless in downtown L.A.

    What police are doing right (and wrong) with the homeless in downtown L.A.

    On March 1, 2015, Los Angeles police officers responded to a Sunday morning call on skid row about a dispute. A homeless man called Africa (Charly Leundeu Keunang) got into a scuffle with the officers, who shot and killed him. A bystander’s video of the incident went viral and brought new attention...

  • A cat book even a dog person can love: 'Close Encounters of the Furred Kind'

    A cat book even a dog person can love: 'Close Encounters of the Furred Kind'

    I have to get something out of the way before we go any further: I’m a dog person. I might look at cats eating bananas or stuffing themselves into tiny boxes on the Internet, but I like the concept of cats more than the presence of them. And yet, Tom Cox’s “Close Encounters of the Furred Kind”...

  • China Mieville's 'The Last Days of New Paris' makes the surreal real

    China Mieville's 'The Last Days of New Paris' makes the surreal real

    The word “surreal” often serves as a catchall term to describe anything strange. Whether it’s used in reference to the paintings of Salvador Dali, the movies of David Lynch, or just a feeling of déjà vu, surrealism has become a cliché. But what if the world itself was surreal — if surrealism was...

  • Rikki Ducornet's 'Brightfellow' is a sophisticated embodiment of children's imagination

    Rikki Ducornet's 'Brightfellow' is a sophisticated embodiment of children's imagination

    “You cannot write for children — there’s no way,” Maurice Sendak told an interviewer in 1987. “They’re much too complicated.” Capturing the warp and woof of childhood, even in a vessel as elastic as literature, is no easy task. The best children’s books slip beneath the surreal surface of youth...

  • Women's stories, in the best way: Kirstin Allio's new collection

    Women's stories, in the best way: Kirstin Allio's new collection

    There are many ways to write about women, but the argument could be made that almost any novel or story written by a woman is somehow about women, as if that theme automatically applies by dint of the fiction’s connection to its writer. But that would be a simplistic reading and would likely frustrate...

  • Suburban alienation meets aliens in Margaret Wappler's 'Neon Green'

    Suburban alienation meets aliens in Margaret Wappler's 'Neon Green'

    Novels can be analyzed in all sorts of ways, but a few iron laws of interpretation apply. One: Every novel set in the suburbs must be a commentary on suburbia. No writer can imagine a leafy bedroom community without riffing on conformity, hypocrisy and upper-middle-class entitlement. Two: Every...

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