Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Infidel – My Life, is an autobiography of an extraordinary woman, raised in Somalia, who suffered sexual mutilation and brutal beatings during childhood. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a devout Muslim who ran away from a forced marriage, became a deputy in the Netherlands, cried for Muslim rights, criticized Mohammed and was condemned to death by Islamic fundamentalism.
In 2005, Time magazine considered her among the 100 most influential people in the world.
 

Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Walter and Patty Berglund as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

Diary of the Fall – Michel Laub

‘I often dreamed about the moment of the fall, a silence that lasted a second, possibly two, a room full of sixty people and no one making a sound, as if everyone were waiting for my classmate to cry out … but he lay on the ground with his eyes closed’A schoolboy prank goes horribly wrong, and a thirteen-year-old boy is left injured. Years later, one of the classmates relives the episode as he tries to come to terms with his demons. Diary of the Fall is the story of three generations: a man examining the mistakes of his past, and his struggle for forgiveness; a father with Alzheimer’s, for whom recording every memory has become an obsession; and a grandfather who survived Auschwitz, filling notebook after notebook with the false memories of someone desperate to forget. Beautiful and brave, Michel Laub’s novel asks the most basic – and yet most complex – questions about history and identity, exploring what stories we choose to tell about ourselves and how we become the people we are.

Disgrace – J. M. Coetzee

Set in post-apartheid South Africa, J. M. Coetzee’s searing novel tells the story of David Lurie, a twice divorced, 52-year-old professor of communications and Romantic Poetry at Cape Technical University. Lurie believes he has created a comfortable, if somewhat passionless, life for himself. He lives within his financial and emotional means. Though his position at the university has been reduced, he teaches his classes dutifully; and while age has diminished his attractiveness, weekly visits to a prostitute satisfy his sexual needs. He considers himself happy. But when Lurie seduces one of his students, he sets in motion a chain of events that will shatter his complacency and leave him utterly disgraced.

Death at Intervals – José Saramago

In an unnamed country on the first day of the new year, people stop dying. Amid the general public, there is great celebration: flags are hung out on balconies and people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity – eternal life. Death is on strike.
Soon, though, the residents begin to suffer. For several months undertakers face bankruptcy, the church is forced to reinvent its doctrine, and local ‘maphia’ smuggle those on the brink of death over the border where they can expire naturally.
Death does return eventually, but with a new, courteous approach – delivering violet warning letters to her victims. But what can death do when a letter is unexpectedly returned?

Sagarana – João Guimarães Rosa

With the publication of Sagarana1946), a collection of short stories set in the sertão of Minas Gerais, Guimarães Rosa was hailed as a major force in Brazilian literature.

Persuasion – Jane Austen

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
Jane Austen once compared her writing to painting on a little bit of ivory, 2 inches square. Readers of Persuasion will discover that neither her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals has deserted her in her final finished work

A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway

In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war, to the war to end all wars. He volunteered for ambulance service in Italy, was wounded, and twice decorated. Out of his experiences came A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway’s description of war is unforgettable. He recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteer, and the men and women he meets in Italy with total conviction. But A Farewell to Arms is not only a novel of war. In it, Hemingway has also created a love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion.

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

This stunning and elegiac novel by the author of the internationally acclaimed Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has sold over 4 million copies in Japan and is now available to American audiences for the first time.  It is sure to be a literary event.
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.  Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.  As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.

The Sense of An Ending – Julian Barnes

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A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single setting, The Sense of an Ending has the psychological and emotional depth and sophistication of Henry James at his best, and is a stunning new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre. This intense novel follows Tony Webster, a middle-aged man, as he contends with a past he never thought much about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance: one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony thought he left this all behind as he built a life for himself, and his career has provided him with a secure retirement and an amicable relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, who now has a family of her own. But when he is presented with a mysterious legacy, he is forced to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.