The Notable Books Council of the ALA Reference and User Services Association has compiled this list for the general reader. These titles have been selected for their significant contribution to the expansion of knowledge and for the pleasure they can provide to adult readers.
F I C T I O N
Alvarez, Julia. Yo!
Algonquin (320 pp.) $18.95 Jan. 1997
Like a prism held to the sun, the novel reveals various facts of Yolanda Garcia through the stories of those whose lives touch hers.
Atwood, Margaret. Alias Grace
Doubleday (484pp) $24.95
Atwood skillfully blends fact and fiction in her account of a notorious 19th Century crime. Convicted murderess, Grace Marks, emerges as an enigmatic and complex character.
Choy, Wayson. The Jade Peony
Picador USA (238 pp.) May 1997
Inter-generational and cultural tensions are explored in this novel, narrated by three Chinese-Canadian siblings growing up in Vancouver's Chinatown during World War II.
Deane, Seamus. Reading in the Dark
Knopf (272pp.) $23. Apr. 1997
This dark and haunting novel, illuminated by exquisite writing, is a strikingly vivid portrayal of a young boy's childhood in Northern Ireland.
Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain
Atlantic Monthly (368 pp.) $23.00 Jun. 1997
A Confederate deserter walks home to his sweetheart in North Carolina, a woman confronting her own obstacles. This odyssey is filled with memorable characters, period detail and vivid scenery.
Garcia, Cristina. Aguero Sisters
Knopf (288 pp.) $24.00 May 1997
Sisters estranged for 30 years reunite in Miami—one from a life spent in Cuba, one from middle class New York. Magical, exuberant and complex.
Murakami, Haruki. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Knopf (640 pp.) $25.95 Oct.1997
A young man abandons the familiar to embark on a mysterious search that takes him through his collapsing marriage, Japan's history and towards his own identity.
Perota, Tom. The Wishbones
Putnam (304 pp.) $21.95 May 1997
Dave, a 30-year old musician, comes of age in this hilarious novel that has sharply portrayed characters, a fast and funny plot, and a few bittersweet moments.
Smith, Lee. News of the Spirit
Putnam (256 pp.) $23.95 Sept. 1997
Southern grace, spirit, and humor reverberate through this collection of six imaginative short stories populated with eccentric characters.
Stollman, Aryeh Lev. The Far Euphrates
Riverhead/Putnam (224 pp.) $21.95 Sept. 1997
In beautifully understated prose, Sollman tells a haunting coming of age story steeped in Jewish history and mysticism.
Yamanaka, Lois-Ann. Blu's Hanging
Farrar, Straus & Giroux (288 pp.) $22.00 Apr. 1997
N O N F I C T I O N
Alvarez, Walter. T. Rex and the Crater of Doom
Princeton Univ. (152 pp.) $24.95 May 1997
Geologist Alvarez's detective story spans decades and claims to solve the mystery of dinosaur extinction. Good science in a clear and comprehensible style.
Bragg, Rick. All Over But the Shoutin'
Pantheon (352 pp.) $25.00 Sept. 1997
Pulitzer Prize–winner Bragg unleashes his powerful analytical skills and expansive storytelling genius on his own childhood and family in an attempt to explain himself.
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Blood Rites: Origins & History of the Passions of War
Metropolitan/Henry Holt (280 pp.) $25.00 May 28, 1997
Ehrenreich's intriguing and provocative cultural history of the human lust for violence explores the universal need to translate bloodshed into sacred ritual.
Figes, Orlando. A People's Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution
Viking (894 pp.) $34.95 Mar. 1997
In this fascinating account, Figes draws on letters, diaries, and the newly opened archival materials to analyze the roots of this momentous historical event.
Fouts, Roger & with Stephen Tukel Mills.
Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are
Morrow (432 pp.) $25.00 Oct. 1997
Based on his lifelong involvement in teaching sign language to chimpanzees, Fouts challenges both the accepted theories of language development and the morality of animal experimentation.
Fraser, Kennedy. Ornament and Silence: Essays on Women's Lives
Knopf (288pp.) $25. Nov. 1996
The lives and passion of individual women, famous and less known, are explored in this rich tapestry of well-crafted essays.
Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
Norton (256 pp.) $25.00 May 1997
Junger recounts the harrowing tale of the Andrea Gail, her six-man fishing crew, and their disappearance during the most powerful Nor'eastener of this century.
Krakauer, Jon. Iinto Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Villard (256 pp.) $24.00 May 1997
This gripping first-hand account of the 1996 climb argues that the commercialization of Mount Everest has degraded its fragile environment, threatened the Sherpas' survival, and brought death to climbers.
Maier, Pauline. American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence
Knopf (352 pp.) $27.50 Jul. 1997
Maier describes the events that led to the creation of the Declaration and argues that the present veneration distorts the intent of the signers.
Raban, Jonathan. Bad Land: An American Romance
Pantheon (352pp.) $25 Nov.1996
Raban eloquently reveals the power the land holds over the inhabitants of the eastern Montana plains, exploring factors as diverse as early 1900's railroad propaganda, capricious weather, and isolation.
Solomon, Deborah. Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell
Farrar (380pp.) $30 Mar.1997
Solomon unlocks Cornell, she reveals generations of vanguard artists, American pop culture, and New York in its heyday. A life that wonderfully illuminates the art.
Winchester, Simon. The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze and Back in Chinese Time
Holt (448pp) $27.50 Nov. 1996
P O E T R Y
Lindsay, Sarah. Primate Behavior
Grove Atlantic $20 Oct. 1997 ISBN 0-8021-1619-1
This wildly imaginative collection takes readers to places they've never been and perhaps never wanted to go. Eerie and unforgettable.
Piercy, Marge. What Are Big Girls Made Of?
Knopf (160pp.) $25 Feb. 1997
ISBN 0-679-45065-3; paper, $15 ISBN 0-679-76594-8
Piercy provides a portfolio of poignantly evoked poems in this collection of her memories, thoughts, and interaction with life and love.
Walcott, Derek. The Bounty
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (80 pp.) $18 Oct. 1996
Walcott crafts lines that pull the reader across the page in these evocative and eloquent poems. He explores themes of faith, place, and memory.