Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
New Fiction – Dystopian Fiction – 21st Century
Set in a bucolic Long Island vacation home during the chaos, confusion, and uncertainty that comes from an unnamed global crisis (the internet and cellular services are down), Alam’s latest novel feels almost uncanny in its sagacity about the current state of America. The main characters (a white family of four from Brooklyn and an older black couple from Manhattan) are unexpectedly drawn together as they attempt to understand why and how their connection to the outside world has been destroyed. At the same time, they grapple with age-old assumptions about race, class, sex, and intellect in a series of pointed conversations and silent observations. Leave the World Behind is not only a tense page-turner but also a lucid cultural commentary that seems to have come to us at just the right time.
Snow by John Banville
New Fiction– Mystery – Crime Fiction– 21st Century
The singular Irish novelist John Banville has gotten himself into a bit of a pickle recently after making some disparaging comments about the “woke” movement and its political impact on the literary prize racket. None of this, however, changes the fact that his latest novel, Snow, is not only crafted like a fine silk brocade but also almost impossible to put down. The inaugural novel of Banville’s latest criminal investigator St. John Strafford, Snow is set in mid-century Wexford, during an unprecedented snowstorm that, like the snowfall in Joyce’s “The Dead,” somehow carries the weight of all the nation’s troubles in every falling flake. A Catholic priest is brutally mutilated and murdered on a rural estate and protestant DI Strafford must carefully probe the scene and the larger community in order to uncover the local secret that has been festering like an undressed wound for far too long.