By Washington Post literary critic Ron Charles
The wind blows through the Santa Ana Canyon in Susan Straight’s new novel, “Mecca.” Straight’s characters are people of color who form the backbone of Southern California hospitality, agriculture, and healthcare.
In one storyline, we meet a patrolman haunted by a murder he committed 20 years ago to save a woman’s life. In another story, we follow a young Mexican woman who finds an abandoned baby at a fancy spa – and takes it.
Between these two crimes, Straight draws a terribly fascinating novel about people bound by blood, duty and love.
Read an excerpt: “Mecca” by Susan Straight
“Mecca” by Susan Straight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), in hardcover and eBook format, available via Amazon and Indiebound
by Jennifer Egan “The Candy House” may be the most anticipated novel of the year. It’s a sequel to “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” his dazzlingly creative book that won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Egan is back in a world transformed by a radical development of social media: instead of just sharing photos on Instagram, these characters are uploading the contents of their brains to the web so that they can access all thoughts and all the memories of others.
What’s not to like?
Read an excerpt: “The Candy House” by Jennifer Egan
“The Candy House” by Jennifer Egan (Scribner), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon and Indiebound
Two years ago, Scottish writer Douglas Stuart won the Booker Prize for his debut novel, ‘Shuggie Bain’, which sold over a million copies.
Her new novel, “Young Mungo,” tells the story of a 15-year-old boy who first falls in love in a violently homophobic community. Unable to accept her son’s sexual orientation, Mungo’s alcoholic mother sends him on a fishing trip with two men from her AA meeting who promise to man him.
This devastating novel is written in prose that is as shocking as it is beautiful.
Read an excerpt: “Young Mungo” by Douglas Stuart
“Young Mungo” by Douglas Stuart (Grove), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon and Indiebound
And finally, coming later this month, look for “To find me” a memoir by Viola Davis.
The legendary actress promises to show how she rose from desperate poverty to become one of the world’s most famous performers – winner of an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and two Tony Awards.
“I wrote this,” she says, “for anyone who needs to be reminded that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and ‘be… you.’
“Finding Me” by Viola Davis (HarperCollins), in hardcover, broadsheet, e-book and audio, available April 26 via Amazon and Indiebound
Follow Viola Davis on TwitterInstagram and Facebook
For these and other suggestions on what to read this spring, contact your local librarian or bookseller. That’s it for the book report. I am Ron Charles. Until next time, read on!
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Story produced by Robin Sanders, Roman Feeser and Juan Torres-Falcon.
For more reading recommendations, check out these previous Ron Charles Reading Report features: