Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann

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1. Anthropology of an American Girl
By Hilary Thayer Hamann
624 pages; Spiegel & Grau

When a book is 600 pages long and goes by the rather grandiose name Anthropology of an American Girl, readers can be forgiven for expecting an epic, a sweeping story that defines an era. Hilary Thayer Hamann's debut novel—about a Long Island high school girl in the late 1970s—is, despite some pretentiousness, that kind of book. Remember what it feels like to be 17? Hamann does, and her heroine, Eveline Auerbach, sounds like somebody many of us knew—or were...Read more

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

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2. A Visit from the Goon Squad
By Jennifer Egan
288 pages; Knopf

"Nostalgia was the end," proclaims '90s record producer Bennie Salazar in A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan's wildly ambitious novel about the music business, media technology, and culture. By the 21st century, Bennie is the nostalgic one, bemoaning "digitization, which sucked the life out of everything that got smeared through its microscopic mesh. Film, photography, music: dead. An aesthetic holocaust! " Read more

Lee Kravitz's Unfinished Business and Dominique Browning's Slow Love

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3. Slow Love
By Dominique Browning
250 pages; Atlas

Unfinished Business
By Lee Kravitz
224 pages; Bloomsbury

At a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs, it's hard to drum up much sympathy for a couple of highly paid executives who got kicked off the fast track and into their own (well-tended) backyards. Good thing, then, that neither Dominique Browning, the former editor of the now defunct House & Garden magazine, nor Lee Kravitz, who ran Parade, is asking for your sympathy...Read more

Try to Remember by Iris Gomez

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4. Try to Remember
By Iris Gomez
368 pages; Grand Central

Gabriela, the smart and engaging teenage immigrant at the center of Iris Gomez's Try to Remember, faces more than the usual coming-of-age problems. In this captivating debut novel, she has to deal with an increasingly erratic father, who, as the book begins, enlists the 13-year-old to type yet another stack of the alarmingly disjointed missives he's been sending out to potential employers...Read more

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

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5. The Invisible Bridge
By Julie Orringer
624 pages; Knopf

An old-fashioned romantic drama, Julie Orringer's The Invisible Bridge is as rich in historical detail as it is human in its cast of sympathetic characters. The novel begins in 1937 Budapest, where a discriminatory quota system has forced a 22-year-old Hungarian Jew named Andras Lévi to seek his education abroad...Read more

A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer

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6. A Fierce Radiance
By Lauren Belfer
544 pages; Knopf

Lauren Belfer's panoramic new novel is a love story wrapped around a spy story with a pivotal medical breakthrough at its center. A Fierce Radiance begins days after the attack on Pearl Harbor propels the United States into World War II. Claire Shipley, a savvy Life magazine photographer, has been assigned a photo essay on a young father whose life might be saved by the new miracle antibiotic, penicillin...Read more


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