A few recent reads that I loved:
1) “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson. Each time Ursula Todd dies, she is reborn into the same life. Atkinson explores Friedrich Nietzsche’s question: “What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence…’ Except, un Ursula Todd’s existence, she has the power to change her life each time. Set during WWI and WWII, this book is not only riveting historical fiction but also a compelling look at the gift and the burden of eternal second chances.
2) “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. At its heart Americanah is a modern love story, but it is also an exploration of race, exile, and the myth of the eternal return to a homeland that only exists in one’s imagination.
3) “Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932” by Francine Prose. I loved this book. In part because I’m a Francine Prose groupie. She taught a craft class at my MFA program as was completely mesmerizing. This novel was smart, funny, entertaining, and completely transporting. Set in Paris before and during WWII, the book explores the myth of Lou Villars, a female race car driver who later worked with the Nazis. Prose uses a host of characters, letters, and fictional news reports and documents to tell the story of Villars, but also of Paris and the many other characters in the book. By using so many (sometimes conflicting) accounts of the same story, Prose examines what it means to collectively remember a tragic time in history, and how hard it is to forget.
4) “The Housekeeper and the Professor” by Yoko Ogawa. A compact, heartfelt novel about a math professor with an 80 minutes memory, and his housekeeper. Ogawa’s short story collections all have an eerie, modern-day horror story feel to them, which I love, but this novel does not. It is sweet, but never precious or dull. A great, quick read.