Inspired by a comment from a member during our last meeting, I decided to turn to the experts for this month’s poll: local booksellers. After browsing the “staff recommendations” sections of a number of Seattle-area indie bookstore websites — which is a pretty great rabbit-hole to tumble into — I narrowed it down to these four titles from a wealth of choices. (True confessions: I’ve already read one of them and liked it a lot. But I won’t tell you which, unless you choose it.) Cast your vote by Monday, Oct. 19; I’ll announce the winner Tuesday, and we’ll meet online for our discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
“Virgil Wander” by Leif Enger. A Midwestern movie theater owner drives into an icy lake and finds his life forever changed once he emerges. “This book embodies the comfort of an honest story,” wrote Janis at Queen Anne Book Co., “the kind that leads its reader generously and delivers wholeheartedly.”
“The World That We Knew” by Alice Hoffman. Hoffman’s latest novel is set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, as a Jewish mother convinces a rabbi’s daughter to create a magic golem to protect her child. “She imbues the story with the magical, the mystical, the fantastical,” wrote Elaine at Edmonds Bookshop, “and elevates the story to a separate level as only Alice Hoffman can.”
“The Memory Police” by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder. In this acclaimed 1994 Japanese novel only recently published in English, a young novelist lives on a mysterious island where inhabitants are compelled to forget their attachments to things and ideas. Karen at Elliott Bay Book Co. called it “a disturbing and thought-provoking look at the effects of forgetting and of silence on our humanity.”
“No One Can Pronounce My Name” by Rakesh Satyal. In an Indian-American community within a Cleveland suburb, two lonely people find connection: Harit, who dresses at night in his dead sister’s sari in hopes of keeping his distraught mother sane, and Ranjana, a wife and mother who secretly writes paranormal romances. “This is a sweet novel that tells the story of how they each came to be so lonely, and how infinitely variable loneliness can be,” wrote Christina at Third Place Books, adding “I loved Satyal’s wry portrait of the selfishness and generous compassion that can coexist in relationships.”