Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

1. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
By Helen Simonson
368 pages; Random House

The shy romance between a retired British officer and a local Pakistani shopkeeper is the main plotline of Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. But this delightful debut novel is as much a gently p.c. look at the British class system tucked inside a sly comedy of manners as it is a love story...Read more

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

2. Making Toast
By Roger Rosenblatt
176 pages; Ecco

Comparing heartbreaks is a zero-sum game. Between the loss of a child and the childhood loss of a parent, there is no determining which hurts more. But as veteran journalist and essayist Roger Rosenblatt reveals in Making Toast, a deeply affecting and unsparing memoir of moving in with his three grandchildren after his daughter's sudden death, sharing grief can double the chance of survival...Read more

How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

3. How to Escape from a Leper Colony
By Tiphanie Yanique
240 pages; Graywolf

To wrap your mind around life on an island, you need to understand insularity, restlessness, the way it feels to have a fluid sense of identity. All this and more is what you get from Tiphanie Yanique's haunting and vibrant debut fiction collection, How to Escape from a Leper Colony. Set in the Caribbean—in places with lilting names like Dominica, Tortola, Gasparee—the stories and novella are told in disparate voices...Read more

Someone Will Be with You Shortly by Lisa Kogan

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

4. Someone Will Be with You Shortly: Notes from a Perfectly Imperfect Life
By Lisa Kogan
208 pages; HarperStudio

Fans of Lisa Kogan's column in this very magazine will revel in the characteristic deadpan wit on display in her first book, Someone Will Be with You Shortly. Like the bit of banter you don't think of until ten minutes after the dinner party has broken up...Read more

The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

5. The Surrendered
By Chang-rae Lee
480 pages; Riverhead

It might not sound like a fun read—467 pages of graphic descriptions of the physical and emotional cruelties inflicted by war—yet Chang-rae Lee's The Surrendered, an exploration of the corrosiveness of survivor guilt, is impossible to put down...Read more

The Hole We're In by Gabrielle Zevin

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

6. The Hole We're In
By Gabrielle Zevin
288 pages; Black Cat

What kind of mother, facing a cash crunch, steals her son's identity and maxes out his credit card? In the provocative novel The Hole We're In, Georgia Pomeroy is a stealth monster, masquerading (even to herself) as a devoted, middle-American mom...Read more

I'm Sorry You Feel That Way by Diana Joseph

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

7. I'm Sorry You Feel That Way
The Astonishing but True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother, and Friend to Man and Dog
By Diana Joseph
224 pages; Amy Einhorn

Diana Joseph is one scrappy, wisecracking memoirist whose brazen sexuality, golden heart, and hard-boiled sense of humor will have readers snorting and shaking their heads. In I'm Sorry You Feel That Way, Joseph pulls no punches in describing her roughneck upbringing, disastrous relationships, and difficulties raising her son as a single mom...Read more


Next Story