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Contemporary Fiction | Notable Fiction and Poetry of 2004


Notables Books of 2004:

Selections from the New York Times Book Review

December 5, 2004


Visit the New York Times Book Review web site and read the reviews. Free registration required for first-time readers.

Adams, Lorraine. Harbor. New York: Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 2004.
This first novel, based on Adams's reporting for The Washington Post, captures the immensity of the terrorist challenge.
Regenstein Stacks
PS3601.D38 H37 2004

Ames, Jonathan. Wake Up, Sir! New York : Scribner, c2004.
A plot of fine inanity involves an artists' colony, where the hero improbably acquires a sound grasp on things and people.
Regenstein Stacks
D'Angelo Law Stacks
PS3551.M42 W34 2004

Banks, Russell. The Darling. HarperCollins
A privileged American girl grows up to see her life ruined in a war in Liberia, and winds up caring for chimps.
Regenstein Stacks
PS3552.A49D37 2004

Barnes, Julian. The Lemon Table. London : Jonathan Cape, 2004.
Old age and getting there is the scene of this collection by the author of ''Flaubert's Parrot.''
Regenstein Stacks
PR6052.A6657 L46 2004

Bell, Madison Smartt. The Stone that the Builder Refused. Pantheon,
The final novel in Bell's huge Haitian trilogy.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3552.E517 S69 2004

Bezmozgis, David. Natasha, and Other Stories. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
A loosely linked anthropological collection that succinctly and unsentimentally depicts a world of Russian Jews in Toronto.
Regenstein Stacks
PR9199.4.B495 N38 2004

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. The Inner Circle. New York : Viking, 2004.
Alfred C. Kinsey, premier American sex scientist, strives to perfect humankind in Boyle's skeptical novel.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3552.O932 I56 2004

Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. New York : Bloomsbury : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2004.
A fantasy, involving a Yorkshire magician (Norrell) who comes to London in 1806 and takes on the handsome Jonathan Strange for a disciple.
Regenstein Stacks
PR6103.L375 J65 2004

De Krester, Michelle. The Hamilton Case. London: Chatto & Windus, 2003.
A beguiling, multilayered novel that spans much of the 20th century.
Regenstein Stacks
PR9619.4.D4H25 2003

Doctorow, E.L. Sweet Land Stories. New York: Random House, 2004.
Like Doctorow's novels, these stories affirm the American theme of self-creation.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3554.O3 F58 2004

Dove, Rita. American Smooth: Poems. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004
In this collection, dance is an implicit parallel to poetry, each an expression of grace performed within limits.
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PS3554.O884 A77 200

Eprile, Tony. The Persistence of Memory. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.
Part fable, part coming-of-age story, Eprile's first novel concerns a burdened South African Jew and his country's endless ''Border War'' in Namibia and Angola.
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PR9369.3.E67 P47 2004

Erdrich, Louise. Four Souls. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004.
A vengeful, partly comical plot that ranges about in time and space, rising in pitch to conclude in gorgeous incantations and poetry.
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Harper Library
PS3555.R42 F68 2004

Fowler, Karen Joy. The Jane Austen Book Club. New York: Putnam, 2004.
A comic novel, set in a California college town, that is more about how to read than about book groups or Jane Austen.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3556.O844 J36 2004

Freed, Lynn. The Curse of the Appropriate Man. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004.
Tough fiction whose theme is women's desire.
Regenstein Stacks
PR9369.3.F68 C87 2004

Hollinghurst, Alan. The Line of Beauty. London: Picador, 2004.
This year's Booker Prize novel concerns a gay intellectual whose heart has room in it to like Margaret Thatcher.
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PR6058.O4467L5 2004

Jin, Ha. War Trash. New York: Pantheon Books 2004.
A moral fable whose suffering hero passes from delusion to clarity as a Chinese P.O.W. in Korea.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3560.I6 W37 2004
Best Book

Just, Ward. An Unfinished Season. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Just's 14th novel captures the ethos of Chicago and its suburbs in the 1950's.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3560.U75 U54 2004

Justice, Donald. Collected Poems. New York: Alfred A. Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 2004.
Justice (1925-2004) spent most of his life around universities, and much of his attention looking behind him, preoccupied with the evocation of nostalgia and the endings of things.
Regenstein Stacks
PS3519.U825 A6 2004

Keneally, Thomas. The Tyrant's Novel. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2004.
In a country very like Iraq, a fiction writer is ordered to produce, in one month, a novel to be published under a tyrant's name.
Regenstein Stacks
PR9619.3.K46 T97 2004

Kunzru, Hari. Transmission. New York: Dutton, 2004.
An Indian programmer, thwarted in his plans to make his fortune in California, unleashes a killer computer virus.
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PR6111.U68 T73 2004

Lee, Chang-rae. Aloft. New York: Riverhead Books, 2004.
The developments of Long Island are the setting for a tale of a self-made American on the rise.
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Harper Library
PS3562.E3347 A79 2004

Lethem, Jonathan. Men and Cartoons.: Stories. New York: Doubleday: 2004. Brooklynite fiction by the author of ''The Fortress of Solitude.''
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PS3562.E8544 M46 2004

Mallon, Thomas. Bandbox. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004.
Two glossy magazines wage a circulation war in the twilight of the pre- Depression era.
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D'Angelo Law Stacks
PS3563.A43157 B36 2004

Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas. London: Sceptre, 2004.
A novel that covers about 1,000 years in narratives involving a New Zealand stowaway, a book editor, a goatherd and others.
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PR6063.I785 C56 2004

Munroe, Alice. Runaway. New York: Knopf, 2004.
Her 11th collection of short stories about people who do what our neighbors do but far more vividly.
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PR9199.3.M8 R86 2004
Best Book

Naipaul, V.S. Magic Seeds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 2004.
A writer's restless world travels lead.him back home to India and into the center of a revolution.
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PR9272.9.N32 M49 2004

Oates, Joyce Carol. The Falls. New York: Ecco, 2004.
The falls are Niagara and the advent of sin as well in this novel of high pressures and ungovernable forces.
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PS3565.A8 F355 2004

Ozick, Cynthia. Heir to the Glimmering World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
A novel of ideas, incarnated in an 18-year-old orphan girl who takes a job in 1935 as secretary to a scholar of an ancient Jewish heresy.
Regenstein Stacks
PS3565.Z5 H45 2004

Pamuk, Orhan. Snow. Knopf,
The line between farce and tragedy is drawn in blood where secular and Islamic Turkey seem to explode on contact.
Regenstein Stacks
PL248.P34K36513 2004
Best Book

Perrotta, Tom. Little Children. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004. Adultery and childraising in a generic suburb.
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PS3566.E6948 L57 2004

Reisman, Nancy. The First Desire. Pantheon
An impressionistic debut novel about the tensions and rivalries within an extended family.
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PS3568.E5135F57 2004

Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead. Farrar, Straus & Giroux,
A demanding, grave and lucid novel in the form of a long letter from an aging preacher to his young son.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3568.O3125G55 2004
Best Book

Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
Charles Lindbergh is elected president in 1940 on a pro- Nazi platform, and a Jewish family in Newark suffers the consequences.
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Harper Library
PS3568.O855 P58 2004
Best Book

Toibin, Colm. The Master. New York: Scribner, 2004.
A deeply considered, crisply delivered novel whose hero is Henry James.
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PR6070.O455 M37 2004
Best Book

Trevor, William. A Bit on the Side. New York: Viking, 2004.
Stories about enduring love without purpose and adultery without passion.
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Harper Library
PR6070.R4 B57 2004

Tyler, Anne. The Amateur Marriage. New York: Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2004.
An ambitious exploration of domestic dislocation, ranging over 60 years of American experience.
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Harper Library
PS3570.Y45 A59 2004

Updike, John. Villages. New York: Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2004.
An old man reflects on his sex life, after the pill and before AIDS, in a sincerely raunchy novel.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3571.P4 V55 2004

Walbert, Kate. Our Kind. New York: Scribner, 2004.
A novel in stories, collectively narrated by women who came of age before 1960.
Regenstein Stacks
PS3573.A42113 O97 2004

Walcott, Derek. The Prodigal. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
A verse memoir by the world wanderer who took the 1992 Nobel Prize.
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PR9272.9.W3 P76 2004

Wallace, David Foster. Oblivion: Stories. New York: Little, Brown, 2004.
Narratives in an exhaustive mode, told by people who notice absolutely everything.
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PS3573.A425635 O35 2004

Wolfe, Tom. I am Charlotte Simmons. Farrar, Straus & Giroux,
Campus debauchery as seen through the oh-so-innocent eyes of a God-fearing young woman.
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
PS3573.O526I13 2004