Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D
Monica Ali's Untold Story
(Scribner) is an unapologetic hybrid of a novel, a literary examination of identity and a page-turning thriller, complete with car chase. While the heroine is named Lydia Snaresbrook, she's clearly a dark-haired, rhinoplastied Princess Diana, who Ali imagines has faked her own death and come to live in a small American town. Life is uneventful until a British paparazzo shows up and recognizes her. At times Ali seems mocking of Dianaiana—Lydia/Diana lives in a town called Kensington, like the palace—but she is also clearly fascinated by her heroine, a woman both mysterious and knowable, privileged and ordinary. Whether Lydia/Diana will outrun that pesky photographer seems beside the point. What's important, in this unusual book, is that she can never escape herself.
— Sara Nelson