Sarah Waters is one of the most talented historical-fiction writers today, updating Dickensian-style stories with compelling prose and honesty. If you haven't read her books Fingersmith or The Night Watch, I highly recommend them.I'm definitely pumped to check out her newest novel, The Paying Guests, about a British mother and daughter who lose all their male relatives in World War I, and are forced to take on a couple of middle-class boarders. It's Downton Abbey meets thriller, and with some passages that are definitely too hot for PBS.
Former New York Times reporter Ramita Navai spent several years following Iranians from every walk of life, and her book City of Lies offers eight profiles of people trying to navigate their double lives, from a man seeking a sex change to an underground porn star to a housewife attempting to divorce her husband. It offers a very real look at a nation that's often demonized in the media.
John Darnielle, the songwriting mastermind behind the Mountain Goats, has long been a hero to indie rockers who adore his literate lyrics. He's now turning his talents into a novel, and Wolf in White Van delivers unsurprisingly excellent prose. It's the story of Sean, a man disfigured in an accident who's withdrawn from society and runs a role-playing game through the mail. When two teenage players in the game endanger themselves, Sean has to handle the consequences, including re-emerging into the real world.
Appearances: Green Apple Books, 9/29