The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

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The Underground RailroadKindle Edition, 306 pages

Published: August 2, 2016 by Doubleday

Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2017), National Book Award for Fiction (2016), The Rooster – The Morning News Tournament of Books (2017), Kirkus Prize Nominee for Fiction (2016), Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction (2016)

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Whitehead’s dark, brilliant novel takes us through the looking glass into an alternative version of the pre-Civil War South — a pastiche of our country’s brutal history of racism, before and after slavery. It is not for the faint of heart. I talked to several people on Facebook who suffered nightmares while reading it. This is, oddly enough, a fitting tribute to this book, which takes you to dark places while enticing you with the beauty of its language.
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March by Geraldine Brooks

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March

Paperback, 280 pages

Published: January 31, 2006 by Penguin (1st published October 10, 2004)

Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2006)

 

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March re-imagines the absent father in Little Women, who went to war and returned to his wife and daughters in a memorable Christmas scene. Although Geraldine Brooks adopted the elegant, rather formal language of the period, in a novel reflecting many of the moral values in Louisa May Alcott’s most famous classic, March is not a children’s story. It is a war story, gorgeous and eloquent but also raw and brutal.

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In a Perfect World by Laura Kasischke

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In a Perfect World

Paperback, 326 pages

Published: October 6, 2009 by Harper Perennial (1st published September 23, 2009)

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Jiselle, a thirty-something flight attendant with an open heart and naive nature, falls for a pilot. Mark seems perfect — he’s handsome, charming, and sexy. Jiselle quickly agrees to marry him, quit her job, and raise his three motherless children. Do you sense trouble coming?

The story of Jiselle’s marriage is one layer of this novel. In the background of her life, the “Phoenix flu” is killing indiscriminately, and no one understands why or how to prevent or treat it. Furthermore, the United States is blamed for this growing worldwide epidemic. We see society change gradually around Jiselle, beginning with occasional electrical blackouts and shortages and ending with a world that is almost unrecognizable.

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Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

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Fingersmithcover

 

Hardcover, 511 pages

Published: February 4, 2002 by Riverhead Books

Setting: London

Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2002), Stonewall Book Award Nominee for Literature (2003), Orange Prize Nominee for Fiction Shortlist (2002), Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Historical Award (2002), Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction (2003), Kono Mystery ga Sugoi for Best Translated Mystery Novel of the Year in Japan (2005)

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Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

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MudboundHardcover, 328 pages

Published: Published March 4, 2008 by Algonquin Books (1st published January 1, 2008)

Setting: Mississippi, 1940s

Literary Awards:  ALA Alex Award (2009), NAIBA Book of the Year for Fiction (2008), PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for Fiction (2006)

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Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep . Any shallower and the corpse was liable to come rising up during the next big flood: Howdy boys! Remember me?

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We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Possible Spoilers)

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817792

Hardcover, Hardcover, 400 pages

Published: March 25, 2003 by Counterpoint (1st published January 1, 2003)

Literary Awards:  Orange Prize for Fiction (2005)

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Eva was a successful businesswoman and author as well as the wife and mother of two children. Now she is estranged from her husband and daughter. Her son Kevin is incarcerated, in the wake of a school shooting, for a series of brutal murders. Eva’s world is cold and narrow. Her only real connection to anyone is through letters she writes to her husband, Franklin.

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American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

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american-psycho-book-cover

Paperback, 399 pages

Published: April 26th 1991 by Picador (1st published 1991)

Setting: New York City

Warning: Disturbing and contains some spoilers.

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Patrick Bateman is in his mid-twenties, son of a wealthy family and a successful Harvard-educated businessman living the “American Dream” in New York City. He’s obsessed with the superficial trappings of wealth and success — who has the finer business card? How can I get a reservation at Dorsia?

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