Part thriller, part philosophical novel, Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker was a finalist for the National Book Award in the US. It is the story of 27-year-old Mark Schluter. On a winter night, on a remote road in Nebraska, US, Mark’s truck turns over in a near-fatal accident. His sister, Karin, returns to their hometown to nurse Mark back to life. But when he emerges from coma, Mark believes that this woman—who he realizes looks and acts like his sister—is an impostor. Shattered by her brother’s inability to recognize her, Karin contacts the cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber. The truth behind the accident changes the lives of all the three characters.
The Echo Maker: By Richard Powers,Random House, 576 pages,Rs330.
Jonathan Raban explores notions of democracy and civil liberties in post-9/11 US in this political novel, Surveillance. His insight into a nation in the grip of its most secretive administration in history is backed by the story of Lucy Bengstrom, a journalist. For Lucy, privacy comes at a price. Her life is changing fast, and securing her home and supporting her daughter come at the cost of a tough assignment. Raban’s humour is dark, but eventually his humane view of the world shines through—Raban shows us how to negotiate a world in which espionage has become the norm. The book has a shocking climax.
Surveillance: By Jonathan Raban, Transworld, 336 pages, Rs520.
Norwegian author Jo Nesbo’s second novel after The Devil’s Star shifts between two worlds —Eastern Europe during WWII and modern day Oslo. Detective Harry Hole, the novel’s witty, laconic hero, is reassigned to his duties after having caused a high profile embarrassment. It isn’t long before he discovers that a rare rifle, favoured by assassins, has been smuggled into the country. When a former WWII Nazi sympathizer is found with his throat slit, Harry suspects a connection. As the number of deaths continues to rise, it is obvious to Harry that the killer is on a path of revenge.
The Redbreast: By Jo Nesbo, Vintage Books, 368 pages,Rs430.
This debut novel is set in rural Tamil Nadu. Adolescents Kumar and Raman are kite-flyers, and their friend Laxmi is a superb burfi maker. They play by the Kaveri river and receive life lessons from the local peanut seller. The idyllic childhood is shattered when a blunder snowballs into a disaster. With the Tamil-Hindi language riots as its backdrop, Paul’s novel shows how a conflict of identities can kill the innocence of childhood. A New Zealand-based doctor of British-Indian descent, Paul writes in lyrical prose, about a milieu that is close to his heart.
Cool Cut: By Sharad P. Paul,Picador India, 160 pages,Rs195.
Another crime thriller that is climbing best-seller lists in the US. Archaeologist Louise Cantor returns home to Sweden from Greece, where she works, to find that her son, Henrik, is dead. Although it is believed to be a suicide, Louise refuses to accept it. Clues lead her to discover that he had contracted HIV and was overpowered by a strange obsession: The theory that JFK’s brain disappeared prior to the autopsy. The only lead is a letter from Henrik’s girlfriend who lives in Mozambique. Louise’s quest takes her to Africa, which changes her life forever.
Kennedy’s Brain: By Henning Mankell, Harvill Secker, 336 pages, Rs478.
Courtesy: Landmark bookstore