216 N Marshall Ave

Litchfield MN 55355


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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Fall fiction

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Fall can bring with it a desire to dive into a good book.  Maybe it’s because we got used to hitting the books again when the school year started, or maybe now that we’re past Labor Day life has settled down a little.  Then again, maybe you're like me and all of your meetings and activities and everything have started up again now that it’s September… That happens, too!  In any case, whenever you’re looking for a new novel, the library always has something new for you to read.  Here are a few highlights from our latest additions:

Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a debut novel by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, an award-winning essayist and short story writer; she is also a regular contributor for an NPR station in California. The novel is fiction inspired by real events in Contreras’ childhood in Columbia.  Set during the violent time in the ‘90s when drug lord Pablo Escobar was in power, this is the story of a 7-year-old girl who lives in a gated community in Bogotá, and of her family’s teenage maid from the slums, told from alternating perspectives.  When the author was a child, her mother received kidnapping threats, and a girl who worked for them was coerced into acting on that but didn’t go through with it.  This novel imagines what could have happened.

The tremendous popularity of the movie Crazy Rich Asians has gotten people reading the book by the same title that it’s based on.  Our library has had that book and its sequel, China Rich Girlfriend since they came out, but I’ve just added the third one in the trilogy, Rich People Problems.  Author Kevin Kwan has written a funny, soapy series that readers love to read for light entertainment.  In this installment, the whole Shang-Young family has arrived at the deathbed of the grandmother who owns a 64-acre estate in the middle of Singapore, in hopes of gaining a fortune for themselves.

Another book about rich families in China, What We Were Promised takes a serious tone with issues of loyalties, secrets, and ambition.  The Zhen family went from a rural Chinese village to the U.S. to chase the American dream.  Now they have returned to live in a luxurious Shanghai apartment among a community of Western-educated professionals, but a brother who chose a criminal path rejoins them and turns things upside-down.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is an unusual, dark novel by Ottessa Moshfegh.  A privileged but unhappy young woman lives in New York City in the year 2000, and she decides to take a year off to sleep.  She doesn’t need money because she inherited all she needs from her parents, and she has relationships with only two people, a terrible Wall Street boyfriend and a toxic best friend.  Her quack psychiatrist prescribes all the drugs she needs to live in a state of near-hibernation.  The novel is described as an insightful internal monologue by a witty, self-destructive person. 

The Shortest Way Home is a feel-good novel by Miriam Parker.  Grad student Hannah is on the verge of her life after school, which will involve starting a high-paying job in New York and getting engaged to her boyfriend, when the two of them take a trip to Sonoma.  She is offered a marketing job at a family-run winery there, and she decides to change all of her life plans while she has the chance.  It’s a romance as well as a story about figuring out the difference between what you want and what others want for you.

Personally, I’ve been reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Where’d You Go, Bernadette for two book clubs lately, and I’ve been absorbed by both.  Those are both a little bit older, which works well for getting enough copies for a book club without a wait.  Whether you check out something old or new, I hope you find a book that you don’t want to put down.