Utne is picking up where Oprah left off and inaugurating a book club--online. Starting in January, our online community, Caf? Utne, will host monthly discussions of rich, compelling works that might not make it to the bestseller lists. Each discussion features someone from the Utne staff who recommends the book. You can buy them at your local independent bookstore or online at Powells.
by Marc Estrin (Bluehen/Penguin Putnam, 2002)
At the end of Franz Kafka's most famous story, 'Metamorphosis,' the chambermaid claims to have swept Gregor Samsa, the salesman-turned-insect, into the dustbin. But what if she sold him to the circus instead, and he had all kinds of amazing adventures around the world? That's the premise of this inventive novel.
A LIFE'S WORK: ON BECOMING A MOTHER
by Rachel Cusk (Picador, 2002)
British novelist Cusk brings an acerbic, literate sensibility to a subject that often invites gushing sentimentality.
by Sanjay Nigam (Morrow, 2002)
A physician-novelist weighs in with a lively tale of a bright young doctor in a clinic in Manhattan's Little India, and the immigrant eccentrics he encounters every day.
by Norah Labiner (Coffee House, 2002)
A rich novel about a young woman pulled into the mysterious and secretive world of a famous writer and his young wife. Allusions to the story of Sylvia Plath and her husband, poet Ted Hughes, combine with details from the Gothic novel tradition and witty pop culture references to create a fascinating tapestry.
by Robin Lippincott (Penguin, 2001)
A fictional account of a group of artists and outcasts creating a community on Cape Cod between 1928 and 1943. Lippincott's poetic style recalls Virginia Woolf's.
THE BEEJUM BOOK
by Alice B. Howell (Anthroposophic Press: Bell Pond Books, 2002)
This post-Harry Potter book for both kids and adults tells the story of Teak, who travels in dreams to the land of Beejumstan and meets a host of amazing characters who, bit by bit, convince her of her own spiritual beauty and power.
by Crystal Wilkinson (Toby Press, 2002)
The citizens of a small Kentucky town tell their secrets in this linked collection of short stories--a sharp African-American updating of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.
AND THEN YOU DIE
by Michael Dibdin (Pantheon, 2002)
The latest installment in this literate mystery writer's saga of Aurelio Zen, a brilliant Italian detective menaced--even on vacation--by his mafia enemies.
by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus, 2002) The tale of Cal, a Greek-American hermaphrodite who lives as a girl, then as a man, is also the story of the complexities, mixings, and ambiguities of the immigrant experience--and of history itself.
by Percival Everett (Hyperion, 2001)
Sick and tired of being unread, author Thelonius 'Monk' Ellison gives up his erudite style and, with tongue in cheek, turns out a preposterous 'ghetto' novel full of gangsta violence. Presto: he turns into America's hottest new black writer. A hilarious sendup of American expectations about race and culture.
LIMBO: A MEMOIR
by A. Manette Ansay (Morrow, 2002)
Prolific novelist Ansay first trained to be a concert pianist. This memoir explores the illness that ended that career--a mysterious malady that robbed her of motor control--and her discovery of a new calling, the writing life.
by Nino Ricci (Houghton Mifflin, 2003)
A uniquely down-to-earth treatment of the life of Christ that plunges the reader into the sounds, smells, and emotions of his Jewish world.