Great fun from a masterful writer.

APRIL IN SPAIN

A literary period piece featuring colorful characters and a mysterious crime.

In postwar Ireland, “Terry Tice liked killing people,”  and he offs his gay friend Percy on a whim. Meanwhile, in Donostia in the Basque region of Spain, a semihappy couple named Quirke and Evelyn are visiting for an April holiday. He’s an Irish pathologist—hero of earlier mysteries Banville published under the name Benjamin Black—and she’s an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. Quirke is the perfect name for the husband, who “could never say the word ‘love’ without flinching.” And he “made love deftly, in an exploratory sort of way, like a doctor searching for the source of an obscure malady.” Evelyn loves to tease him: “You love to be miserable,” she says. “It’s your version of being happy.” Meanwhile, a young woman named April Latimer is dead, murdered by her brother, but her body has never been found. April is the catalyst who eventually brings the storylines together—but well before that, readers will savor the author’s imagery and playful language. After doing in his pal, Terry finds Percy’s photos of nude “fellows with enormous how’s-your-fathers.” In a restaurant, Quirke and Evelyn’s “waiter looked like a superannuated toreador.” Earlier, the odors in a fish stall made Quirke think of sex. They buy oysters, an innocent act that lands Quirke in the hospital, where Doctor  Angela Lawless haunts his thoughts but he doesn’t know why.  Meanwhile, Doctor Cruz demands to know why the couple is really in Spain. Are they poking into the April Latimer business? The bulk of the story focuses on the two vacationers, but Tice may have the last word on whether they can ever return to the Emerald Isle. The plot is good, but the prose—ah, the prose: A woman watches fat raindrops fall, and she “imagined them to be tiny ballerinas making super-quick curtseys and then dropping through little trapdoors hidden in the stage.” And who can’t smile at a woman’s observation that a fellow may be “inclined to the leeward side of Cape Perineum”?

Great fun from a masterful writer.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-47140-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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An exhilarating ride through Americana.

THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY

Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm.

They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCD–like symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New York–bound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history.

An exhilarating ride through Americana.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-73-522235-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

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  • National Book Award Finalist

CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.

Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-43-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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