Ten Books to Look for in 2012

Okay, this list is coming a bit late, seeing as it’s the end of January and most lists of the sort were posted a month ago. But I’m just getting this blog up and running again, so bear with me!

Reading through some “most anticipated books for 2012″ lists, I’ve gotten pretty excited about this year’s literary offerings. There are (what seem to be) some pretty kick-ass novels (and a few non-fiction works) being published this year!

The Last Nude by Ellis Avery. Released Jan. 12. Set in 1920s Paris, this novel tells the imagined story of the love affair between the Art-Deco Painter Tamara de Lempica and her model, the woman who inspired Lempica’s famous work, “Beautiful Rafaela.” In Avery’s telling of the story, Rafaela is a 17-year-old American who has run away from a loveless engagement and falls in with Lempica because she is in need of money. The novel, which has received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, explores the havoc wreaked when lust for money and power converges with sexual awakening.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. To be released Feb. 1. Ivey’s debut novel, which received a starred review from Library Journal, tells the tale of an aging couple struggling to build a homestead in the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920s. The isolation they face is compounded by their childlessness; however, their lives are brightened by the presence of a mysterious young girl. The spare but gorgeous work evokes the harshness of the wilderness and the need for family and community.

No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel. To be released Feb. 2. In 1939, a remote Jewish village in Romania decides to avoid the war consuming Europe by creating an alternate history for themselves; however, they find that the real world of war can’t be held at bay by the power of imagination indefinitely.

Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. To be released Feb. 24. Canadian novelist Edugyan’s second novel follows the exploits of a part Jewish, part Afro-German, part African American jazz ensemble as they flee from the Gestapo and Nazi occupation in Germany. The novel, which has been shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize as well as a host of Canadian awards, has also been celebrated by “The Independent” for its “shimmering jazz vernacular, its pitch-perfect male banter and its period slang.”

Arcadia by Lauren Groff. To be released March 13.  Groff’s debut novel follows the life of a man following the dissolution of the 1960s commune in which he grew up. A coming-of-age story, “Arcadia” examines the effects of the man’s upbringing upon his identity. A starred review of the novel in Publisher’s Weekly says, “Groff’s beautiful prose makes this an unforgettable read.”

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson. To be released March 17. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Gilead” releases a collection of essays on themes such as the role of faith in modern life, human frailty, social fragmentation in today’s America and the value of reading.

The New Republic by Lionel Shriver. To be released March 27. Written by the bestselling author of “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (which was recently adapted for the big screen), “The New Republic” deals with terrorism on a made-up Portuguese peninsula. Actually written in 1998, the novel was initially rejected by publishers, who weren’t interested in terrorism until after 9/11.  According to Shriver in an interview with website Culture, “Now in some ways the US cares too much about terrorism and for a long time I felt it would be wrong to publish something that has a sense of humor about the issue. Enough time has gone by for a droll novel to be well received.”

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger. To be released May 1. The “New Yorker’s” 20 Under 40 author follows the story of a couple – a middle-class Bangladeshi woman and an American man – who meet over the Internet, marry and discover the secrets each are hiding from the other.

Home by Toni Morrison. To be released May 15. The Nobel Laureate’s – known for her lush prose and thought-provoking writing – latest work tells the story of a Korean War veteran who returns to his home in Georgia to confront the racist culture of the area, help his unstable sister through an emotional crisis, and recover from the aftereffects of his time at war.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon: Release date unknown. Chabon, considered by The Virginia Quarterly Review to be “one of the most celebrated writers of his generation,” is due to release his latest novel during the latter half of the year. Telegraph Avenue is the name of the street that runs between Oakland, CA and Berkeley, and the novel is presumed to explore the characters of each place.

Note: I have not read advanced copies of any of these books. All descriptions are based on reviews I have read on websites such as The Millions, Library Journal, and BookPage.

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