The Dinner by Herman Koch
At an upscale restaurant in the Netherlands, two couples have dinner and a much-needed conversation about their sons. Koch employs the narrative frame of a menu to slowly unveil how these couples know each other and the rippling effect their children's actions have caused. By the time dessert is served, the reader knows that the two men are brothers, and the narrative takes on a tone of horror and suspense. In a single setting, Koch successfully deploys multiple narratives of a single event to effectively show that our construction of history, and constant attempts at overdetermining the future, is problematic.
Dirty Love by Andres Dubus III
Four loosely connected short stories bring the simplicity and necessity of love forward with all its complications. Once again, Dubus creates deeply flawed characters and challenges the reader to identify with their common humanity.
The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
Eve Lattimore’s teenage son Tyler has Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a rare condition that makes any exposure to sunlight fatal. Eve is devoted to keeping Tyler safe, but the rest of her family is suffering for it. One night Eve is distracted while driving and a terrible accident occurs, and is then covered up. How far will Eve go to keep her family safe?
Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
We first meet ballet dancer Joan Joyce in the summer of 1977. Joan’s dance career is floundering and she’s been discarded by Arslan Ruskov her former lover whom she helped to defect from the Soviet Union. We then follow Joan, her husband Jacob, and their son Harry and their lives in California. As Harry also becomes a dancer, we reconnect with Arslan and the ballet world.
And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass
Kit Noonan is an unemployed art history professor, the father of twins, and is stuck in a rut. Kit’s wife Sandra thinks if Kit discovers the identity of his unknown biological father it will give him the impetus he needs to move on with his life. This engaging book is filled with interesting characters and intertwining stories, and asks what really makes up a family.