Recommended Books 2000

Fiction

Alexie, Sherman.  The Toughest Indian in the World.  Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000.
Alexie, a Spokane Coeur d'Alene Indian, is one of our most interesting and challenging young writers.  These stories deal with contemporary American Indian life,  and Alexie is fearless in exploring stereotypes that have prevailed in our culture. This is his first short story collection since The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

Atwood, Margaret.  The Blind Assassin.  N. A. Talese, 2000.
Three separate though interrelated stories make up the plot of this book  Essentially,  however, it is the story of two sisters, Iris and Laura.  Iris begins the narrative by telling of  her sister Laura's death fifty years prior.  Alternating with Iris' reflections is a novel within a novel also called "The Blind Assassin."  Winner of this year's Booker Prize for Fiction.

Baldacci, David.  Wish You Well.  Warner Books, 2000.
After a tragic accident, twelve-year-old Lou and her younger brother Oz are sent together with their near comatose mother to live with their great-grandmother Louisa in her mountain  home in Virginia A richly textured story beautifully executed and based on Baldacci's own family history and experiences.

Bolger, Dermot.  Ladies' Night at Finbar's Hotel.  Harcourt, 2000.
A charming sequel to Finbar's Hotel.  In this version all the episodes are written by prominent Irish women authors, among them the ever popular Maeve Binchy.  Bolger again challenges the reader to identify the author of each of these short pieces.

Brennan, Maeve.  The Rose Garden.  Counterpoint, 2000.
A posthumous reprint of the popular stories that originally appeared in The New Yorker.

Chevalier, Tracy.  Girl with a Pearl Earring. 
Dutton, 2000. Set in 17th century Delft, this novel is a wonderful blend of history and fiction as the author imagines how a young girl working as a maid in Vermeer's household came to pose for one of his finest paintings. This is the author's first novel.

Earley, Tony.  Jim the Boy.  Little, Brown and Company, 2000.
A nicely written story of a young boy's experiences living with his mother and three spirited uncles on a farm in North Carolina in the 1930s.

Emerson, Gloria.  Loving Graham Greene.  Random House,
2000. Molly Benson, the quixotic heroine, is passionate about Greene and the causes he supported.  To honor his memory, she decides to help Algerian journalists, oblivious to the risks involved. A provocative and  appealing first novel. 

Lightman, Alan. The Diagnosis.  Pantheon Books, 2000.
In the subway on his way to work in Boston, an information specialist suddenly forgets where he is going or who he is. The only thing he can remember is his company's motto.  A nightmarish search for a diagnosis follows.  A chilling and haunting commentary on contemporary society.

McCann, Colum.  Everything in This Country Must.  Henry Holt, 2000.
The novella and two stories in this powerful and lyrical collection all deal with the political turmoil in Northern Ireland and how it impacts people's lives, especially children.

Roth, Philip.  The Human Stain.  Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
Roth explores such issues as racism, identity, family, and the Vietnam War in this novel that begins in 1998 with the familiar narrative voice of Nathan Zuckerman.  This novel completes Roth's perspective on American culture that he began with American Pastoral.   

Salzman, Mark.  Lying Awake.  Knopf, 2000.
A cloistered Carmelite nun in Los Angeles suffers a crisis of faith when she is told that the intense visions she has experienced may be the result of  a medical problem. Salzman once again displays his prose artistry in this meditative novel.

Shand, Rosa.  The Gravity of Sunlight.  Soho, 2000.
Set in Uganda in 1970 this impressive first novel is the story of an unhappy marriage leading to infidelity and betrayal.

Sherwood, Ben.  The Man Who  Ate the 747.   Delacorte Press,  2000.
A delight from start to finish .  J. J. Smith whose job is to verify world records goes to Superior, Nebraska where a farmer is eating a 747, not for a world record, but for love.  What follows is romantic, quirky and wholly enjoyable. A first novel.

Todd, Charles.  Legacy of the Dead.  Bantam, 2000.
The fourth in the series of novels featuring Ian Rutledge, the psychologically fragile Scotland Yard detective who is still haunted by his memories of World War I.   In this story, Rutledge becomes involved in a murder case that challenges his emotional stability.  A superb mystery.

Toibin, Colm. The Blackwater Lightship.   Scribners, 2000.
An  insightful novel of  an unhappy Irish family, focusing in particular on three generations of women who have been estranged and now come together to care for a family member dying of AIDS,

Tremain, Rose.  Music and Silence.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.
A compelling literary historical novel set in seventeenth century Denmark. A young English lutenist arrives to join the royal orchestra and soon finds himself involved in the intrigue of the court.

Trevor, William.  The Hill Bachelors.  Viking, 2000.
With precision and ease, Trevor brilliantly portrays a variety of people and places in this twelve story collection. The stories deal with the missed opportunities and misplaced hopes of ordinary men and women.

Trice, Dawn Turner.  An Eighth of August.  Crown, 2000.
A beautifully written story of the people of  a small Illinois town who come together to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, and the memories, secrets, and revelations that unfold and transform their lives.

Updike, John.  Gertrude and Claudius.  Knopf, 2000.
Updike offers the reader a new perspective on the Danish royal household.  In this innovative novel, Updike speculates on what events preceded Shakespeare's Hamlet. 

Nonfiction

Achebe, Chinua.  Home and Exile.  Oxford University Press, 2000.
The renowned Nigerian poet and novelist speaks frankly about the responsibility of the writer to his homeland as well as pointing out the great misrepresentation of African culture by such writers as Joyce Cary and Elspeth Huxley.  A thought provoking memoir.

Ambrose, Stephen. Nothing Like It in the World.  Simon and Schuster, 2000.
Utilizing diaries, newspaper accounts, and other sources, Ambrose has created an exciting and vivid account of the building of the transcontinental railroad.  He pays particular tribute to the heroic workers, mainly Irish and Chinese immigrants.

Feigen, Richard. Tales from the Art Crypt.  Knopf, 2000
An art  dealer and collector for over half a century, Feigen tells us all about what really is going on in the art world--H providing numerous revealing anecdotes.

Frazier, Ian.  On the Rez.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.
A follow-up to The Great Plains, Frazier recounts what it is like for the Oglala Sioux Indians living on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.

Green, Hannah. Little Saint.  Random House, 2000.
Green and her husband visited Conques, France, in the early 1970s and became fascinated with its traditions and lore, especially the life of Sainte Foy, a young girl who was martyred in the fourth century. This lovely book--part history, biography, and meditation--grew out of return visits to France over a period of twenty years.

Harper, Kenn.  Give Me My Father's Body.  Steerforth Press, 2000.
The incredibly sad story of  Minik, an Eskimo boy brought to New York in 1897 by Robert Peary, the Arctic explorer.  Minik's anguish begins when he accidentally sees his father's remains. on exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.

Hazzard, Shirley.  Greene on Capri.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.
A wonderful tribute to her friendship with Graham Greene that began with a chance encounter in a cafe on Capri when she knew the last line of a Browning poem that the English writer could not remember. 

Heaney, Seamus.  Beowulf.   Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.
A magnificent modern translation of the epic poem by the Irish Nobel Prize laureate.                                                                                                                                                                                                        Klemperer, Victor.  I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years. Random House, 2000.
This is the second volume of Klemperer's extraordinary account of what daily living was like for a Jew living in Nazi Germany. This concluding volume covers the years from 1941 to 1945 when he and his wife fled Dresden after the Allied fire bombing.

Littell, John S.  French Impressions.  New American Library, 2000.
What life was like for an American family living in Montpelier, France in 1950, including serving a swan for their Thanksgiving feast instead of a turkey. 

Loyd, Anthony. My War Gone By, I Miss It So.  Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000.
An informative, engrossing, and harrowing account of the ethnic strife in the Balkans.

Martin, Lee. From Our House.  Dutton, 2000.
The author's father lost both hands in an accident on their farm in Southern Illinois, and this well written memoir details how their family  life was impacted by this tragedy.

O'Brien, Edna.  James Joyce.  Viking, 2000.
A very readable analysis of the literary and personal life of Joyce, Ireland's most famous exile.

Philbrick, Nathaniel Philbrick.  In the Heart of the Sea.  Viking, 2000.
The story of the sinking of the whaleship Essex by a sperm whale in the mid 1800s that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. For this superb work Philbrick has received the National Book Award for Nonfiction.

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