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By Vendela Vida. A swift, spare first novel of self-discovery whose heroine is the victim of a terrifying crime but no grave physical damage. She returns to everyday life through a number of low-pressure encounters whose significance is rendered without being raised to the false cosmic.

By Thomas Moran. Moran explores the moral climate of the post-World War II era through characters Anja, a girl from Krakow who was once a Nazi informer; a German engineer; a murderous woman who ran a Chetnik unit who, like their nations, have had experiences so extreme there is no prescription for recovery. By William Boyd. A novel whose hero, a minor British writer and art dealer and secret agent , becomes a sort of stoic Everyman for the 20th century, meeting almost everyone Ian Fleming, Picasso, Hemingway, the Duke of Windsor, Virginia Woolf and traveling to almost everywhere; he has many successes in life, each one closely attended by yet another fall.

By John Burdett. A talky, entertaining novel set in Thailand about two decades after the Vietnam War, full of cops, crooks and prostitutes; its narrator, a Bangkok police detective and son of a respectable prostitute, solves a locked-door murder not through deduction but by meditation and a sensitivity to reincarnation. By Robert Stone. A highly concentrated for this author , wholly unnerving novel whose hero, an unhappy professor of English specializing in literary ''vitalism,'' becomes desperately involved with an exotically attractive woman who thinks she has lost her soul and hopes to retrieve it in a voodoo rite.

By Thomas Berger.

The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner

Contemporary life takes another hit in this, the 22nd novel by the author of ''Little Big Man''; its chief characters, in a variation of the eternal triangle, are two well-off men one much weller than the other and one wife, who appears for a long time to be losing a game she is winning. By Ronit Matalon. A tense, often stormy novel involving two women in Israel; one, a fury on fire over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and its own Arab citizens, destroys her family by her near-to-madness conduct; the other, who must go to France to join relatives in mourning, aimlessly waits out her grief.

By James Wood. Wood, a distinguished British critic interested in the expansive 19th-century novel about big things like literature and faith, has bitten the bullet and written a big-thing novel, his first, which has to do with literature and faith but is also, thank goodness, laden with wit, forceful images and English eccentrics. By Monique Truong. A lush, fascinating, expansive first novel about exile, concerning a gay Vietnamese cook who works for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in Paris; he Frenchifies their apple pie while observing with an aching heart how much better adapted to expatriation they are than he is.

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By Nicholson Baker. Baker employs his specialty as a novelist, the exhibition of life where no life seems to be, to explore the consciousness of a man who rises early, lights a fire and sits around in a mindful state every morning till his matches are all spent. By Ellen Ullman. Nan A. A thrilling, intellectually fearless first novel that reinvents the story of Frankenstein's monster as an allegory of the birth of the computer among engineers in Silicon Valley; a Yale Ph.

By Michael Ignatieff. The costs of bearing witness are explored in this dark, provocative novel when an American television newsman sees a young woman set ablaze by a Serbian officer, who mechanically describes her as ''collateral damage. By Janice Galloway. The virtuoso pianist Clara Schumann wife of the composer Robert, mother of eight left 47 volumes of diaries. Undaunted, Galloway imagines a way into Clara's life in this novel whose up-to-date concerns don't obstruct its heroine's passionate voice.

By David Liss. A historical novel and an economically detailed romance of capitalism, in which a young Jew in 17th-century Amsterdam seeks to evade censure from the Jewish authorities and to build a personal fortune by exploiting the rising popularity of coffee, which he intends to buy cheap and sell dear.

By Ken Kalfus.


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Nobody listens to anyone else or looks anyone in the eye in this novel by an author interested in the force of ideas and the power of images over life; the first half of the book is full of people whose concern is taking some personal advantage from the impending death of Tolstoy. By Neil Gordon. A rousing, cerebral thriller in which Woodstock Nation meets Islamic fundamentalism; the action, most of it set in , concerns a left-wing lawyer from the 60's who kidnaps his daughter to avoid her mother's custody suit, then has to explain in why he abandoned her a decade before.

By Don DeLillo.


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  • An all-day and book-length chauffeured trip across midtown Manhattan exposes DeLillo's cool, New Economy protagonist to an assortment of characters in this critique of hypercapitalism. Grass's lifelong analysis of Germany's past and present centers, in this new novel, on a refugee ship sunk by a Russian submarine with the loss of 9, lives; the story is told through three generations of a family, all marked, one way or another, by the ship's fate.

    By Sara Pritchard. The crackpots in question belong to the Reese family of Ashport, Pa. By Katherine Govier. A wily, intricate, speculative novel about John James Audubon, 48 years old with a wife and a girlfriend; he lives in fear that his eyesight will fail, or he will die before his work is done, or the birds will vanish. Govier depicts him as a man of multiple fidelities, not really able to resolve them all but trying his best to come clean.

    By Jacqueline Carey. A foamy, delightful novel that concerns distinctly sober subjects, like fidelity, responsibility and greed, all evoked in strife between two sisters one a collector of boyfriends, the other a hard-line businesswoman for the orphaned baby of a third. By Mark Haddon. Presented as a detective story, this funny, original first novel stars a sort of autistic savant, 15 years old, whose grasp of social clues is near zero he cannot lie or understand a joke but whose logical faculties are dominant except when overloaded.

    By Louise Welsh.

    Summary: 12: Review and Analysis of Wagner and Harter's Book

    This accomplished first novel's hard-bitten hero is a Glasgow auction house employee who must assess the belongings of a newly dead man, a task that leads him into the city's darkest corners of commercial sex and criminal glamour. By Mary Swan. The first book by a promising Canadian writer who devises and explores different forms with interesting results; the page story at the heart of this volume probes World War I by seeing what it does to a year-old pair of twin sisters who have volunteered to work in France.

    By Caryl Phillips.

    In the sad and ugly modern Britain of this novel by a Caribbean writer who has specialized in the homelessness of the descendants of slaves, nothing redemptive happens in the friendship of Dorothy, an Englishwoman and retired schoolteacher, and Solomon, an illegal refugee from a war-blighted African nation; both are left to drift. By Carolyn Parkhurst. An inventive first novel whose hero and narrator, a linguist whose wife has died in a fall seen only by the family dog, resolves to find out what happened by teaching the dog to talk; ultimately he realizes that the explanation that can sustain him in his love and grief can come only from himself.

    By Ross King. This intricate novel is a meditation on appearance and reality in 18th-century Europe; everybody is dressed up as something else in a narrative that follows a murderer who wants to be a society portraitist and a Venetian castrato pursuing a singing career in England. By Jessica Hagedorn.

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    Hagedorn's intricate novel combines under high pressure the discovery of a Stone Age tribe in the Philippines and a movie in the making that recreates the Vietnam War; thematic characters include a Filipino playboy, his cook's year-old daughter, an ancient child star and a Philippine-American journalist from a Rolling Stone-ish rock magazine. By ZZ Packer. A first collection of short stories about characters who are apt to be struggling, under thick layers of stereotype, to make their presence felt in the world as black women, often engaged with that old-time religion and hemmed in by passivity learned in segregated daily life.

    By John Updike. The stories in this volume, some of them published when Updike was 21, are witnesses to a marvel of prodigious production during the same years he produced seven novels and five books of poetry. Their themes tend to be eros and God that is, women and death but they happen in a generally propitious America, where life is rarely really unbearable.


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    • By Heidi Julavits. A savage, funny novel whose droll heroine can't quite take it seriously when her plane is hijacked; one culprit, a terrorist-anthropologist interested in ''essential human morality,'' rigs perverse ethical situations for his hostages, forcing them to make decisions with one another's lives.

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      A haunting short novel whose author was awarded the Nobel Prize last month; its title character, an aging novelist who travels on the university lecture circuit as Coetzee himself has done , gets into trouble by embracing unpopular positions on animal rights and the suppression of horrible facts. Compassionate in principle, chilly in practice, her character could support an allegorical proposition: people often fail to behave as they know they should. By Frederick Barthelme. The protagonist, an art professor at a small college, falls foul of a midlife crisis that spurs him to leave home, then fall in love with a woman who turns out to be the object of his best student's affections.

      Setting the Scene: Tannhauser

      A suicide follows, as do many events that indicate the wisdom of lowered expectations. By Marianne Wiggins. This panoramic, epically ambitious and erotically original novel follows a heartland American couple from World War I to the atomic bomb project at Oak Ridge; Opal, the practical half, keeps the books and fixes the truck; Fos, the visionary, is attracted by light in all its forms.