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Contemporary Fiction | Notable Fiction and Poetry of 2005


Notable Books of 2005: Fiction and Poetry

Selections from the New York Times Book Review

December 4, 2005


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

Aslam, Nadeem. Maps for Lost Lovers. London: Faber and Faber, 2004.
PR9540.9.A83M37 2004
Regenstein Stacks
Unhappy Pakistani exiles in a cold, hard Britain populate this intricate novel.

Bakopoulos, Dean. Please Don't Come Back From the Moon. . Orlando, Fla.: Harcourt, 2005.
PS3602.A593P56 2005
Regenstein Stacks
When the fathers in the Rust Belt town of this novel abandon it en masse, their sons take over.

Banville, John. The Sea. London: Picador, 2005.
PR6052.A57S43 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Banville's new novel, which won this year's Man Booker Prize, concerns an aging art critic mourning his wife's recent death - and his blighted life.

Beattie, Ann. Follies: New Stories.. New York: Scribner, 2005.
PS3552.E177F65 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper
This keen observer of the surface of life now slows down for an occasional epiphany.

Bidart, Frank. Star Dust. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
PS3552.I33S73 2005
Regenstein Stacks
The fastidious and the primal join in poems concerned with man as maker.

Chiasson, Dan. Natural History: Poems. . New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
PS3603.H54N38 2005
Regenstein Stacks
This second collection conjures a postmodern landscape where folk knowledge and superstitions arrange into oddly moving litanies.

Coetzee, J.M. Slow Man. . London: Secker & Warburg, 2005.
PR9369.3.C67S56 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Crippled at 60 in a car-bike accident, instructed willy-nilly by a know-it-all female novelist, Coetzee's hero studies the diminished life.

Doctorow, E.L. The March. . New York: Random House, 2005.
PS3554.O3M37 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
Characters in this absorbing novel are transformed by distress and destruction as Sherman marches to the sea in 1864.

Eggers, Dave. How We Are Hungry: Stories. . San Francisco: McSweeney's Books, 2004.
PS3605.G48H69 2004
Regenstein Stacks
A shining miscellany peopled by characters in close touch with childhood.

Ellis, Bret Easton. Lunar Park. . New York: Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 2005.
PS3555.L5937L86 2005.
Regenstein Stacks
A novel starring a brat named Bret Easton Ellis, who knows everybody and has more fun than ever happens to real people.

Erdrich, Louise. The Painted Drum. New York: HarperCollins, 2005.
PS3555.R42P35 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
A ceremonial drum is magically linked to children and death in Erdrich's latest novel set among the Ojibwa.

Erian, Alica. Towelhead. . New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
PS3555.R4265T69 2005
Regenstein Stacks
A bluntly erotic novel whose narrator's budding sexuality gets her driven from home.

Gaitskill, Mary. Veronica. . New York: Pantheon Books, 2005.
PS3557.A36V47 2005
Regenstein Stacks
A novel that ruminates on beauty and cruelty, told by a former Paris model now sick and poor.
(Best Book)

Garcma Marquez, Garbriel. Memories of My Melancholy Whores. . York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
PQ8180.17.A73M4613 2005
Regenstein Stacks
A strange and luminous novel whose elderly hero pays for sex but finds love.

Graham, Jorie. Overlord: Poems. . New York: Ecco, c2005.
PS3557.R214O94 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Politics and World War II, mediated by a major poet.

Harrison, Kathryn. Envy. . New York: Random House, 2005.
PS3558.A67136E58 2005
Regenstein Stacks
A psychoanalyst is unhappy but distant until Greek-tragedy things start happening in this novel by an ace student of sexual violation.

Kadare, Ismail. The Successor; . translated by David Bellos. New York: Arcade, 2005
On order
A whodunit tragicomedy by Albania's pre-eminent novelist, about a loyal Communist who dies before succeeding to power in that unlucky land.

Kelly, Thomas. Empire Rising. . New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
PS3561.E39717E47 2005
Regenstein Stacks
A muscular historical novel in which the Irish erect the Empire State Building in a cheerfully corrupt New York.

Kirn, Walter. Mission to America. . New York: Doubleday, 2005.
PS3561.I746M57 2005
Regenstein Stacks
In his new novel, Kirn invents a religion whose believers hit the road to recruit.

Kshiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. . New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
PR6059.S5N48 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
This bold novel imagines a school where clones are trained for a terrible destiny.

Kunkel, Benjamin. Indecision. . New York: Random House, 2005.
PS3611.U54I53 2005
Regenstein Stacks
This postmodern, posteverything, fresh and funny novel by a young writer seems to develop a nonironic social conscience.

Leonard, Elmore. The Hot Kid. . New York: William Morrow, 2005.
PS3562.E55H66 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
Many seek fame in this rendering of America's criminal landscape in the 1930's; the title character, a killer lawman, achieves it.

Lipsyte, Sam. Home Land. . New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
PS3562.I648H66 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Lipsyte's antihero, a loser but unbowed, asserts in endless letters to his alumni magazine that all the others are losers too.

Mantel, Hilary. Beyond Black. New York: Henry Holt, 2005.
PR6063.A438B49 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Neurotic, demanding ghosts haunt a British clairvoyant in this darkly comic novel.

Mattison, Alice. In Case We're Separated: Connected Stories. . New York: William Morrow, 2005.
PS3563.A8598I5 2005
Regenstein Stacks
The stories concern a family whose members couldn't lose each other if they tried.

McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. . New York: Knopf, 2005.
PS3563.C337N6 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
Women grieve, men fight in this hard-boiled Texas noir crime novel.

McEwan, Ian. Saturday. . New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2005.
PR6063.C4S27 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
This novel traces a day off in the life of an English neurosurgeon who comes face to face with senseless violence.
(Best Book)

Merwin, W.S. Migration: New and Selected Poems. . Port Townsend, Wash.: Copper Canyon Press, 2005
PS3563.E75M54 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Half a century's work, from archaic allegories to unpointed lyrics to secular prophecy and wisdom verses.

Murakami, Haruki. Kafka on the Shore; . translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 2005.
PL856.U673U48 2005
Harper Library
Two characters alternate in this dreamish novel: a boy fleeing an Oedipal prophecy and a witless old man who can talk to cats.
(Best Book)

Oates, Joyce Carol. Missing Mom. . New York: Ecco, 2005.
PS3565.A8M54 2005
Regenstein Stacks
This novel peers into the void left by a woman's sudden absence.

Perlman, Elliot. Seven Types of Ambiguity. . London: Faber and Faber, 2003.
PR9619.3.P3619S48 2003
Regenstein Stacks
An Australian novel so large in its concept of fiction's grasp on the world it takes seven narrators just to tell it.

Prose, Francine. A Changed Man. . New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005.
PS3566.R68C48 2005
Regenstein Stacks
A neo-Nazi engages a Jewish human rights leader in this morally concerned novel, asking for help in his effort to repent.

Rowling, J.K, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; illustrated by Mary GrandPri. New York Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.
PR6068.O93H393 2005
Regenstein Stacks
D'Angelo Law Stacks
In this sixth volume of the epic series, the Dark Lord, Voldemort, is wreaking havoc throughout England and Harry, now 16, is more isolated than ever.

Rushdie, Salman. Shalimar the Clown. . New York: Random House, 2005.
PR6068.U757S47 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
Beauty loses out as Kashmir and Rushdie's characters who live there turn brutal.

Sittenfeld, Curtis. Prep. . New York: Random House, 2005.
PS3619.I94P74 2005
Regenstein Stacks
A scholarship girl at a nifty prep school is thrust into a world of privilege in this novel.
(Best Book)

Smith, Zadie. On Beauty. . New York: Penguin Press, 2005.
PR6069.M59O6 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
The author of White Teeth pounces on a place like Harvard in a cultural-politics comedy.
(Best Book)

St. Aubyn, Edward. Mother's Milk. . New York: Open City Books, 2005
PR6069.T134 M68 2005
Regenstein Stacks
In this novel an ancient family's sins are visited on its offspring, who repeat them.

Vollmann, William T. Europe Central. . New York: Viking, 2005.
PS3572.O395E97 2005
Regenstein Stacks
Harper Library
A novel, mostly in stories, of Middle European fanaticism and resistance to it in the World War II period.

Wilbur, Richard. Collected Poems, 1943-2004. . Orlando, Fla.: Harcourt, 2004.
PS3545.I32165A6 2004
Regenstein Stacks
This urbane poetry survived the age of Ginsberg, Lowell and Plath.