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
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 O. Howell (Anthroposophic Press: Bell Pond Books,
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
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