Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

7 of 17
272 pages
Plenty of novelists have captivated readers with stories of passionate new relationships full of romance, optimism, and hot sex. In Spring, David Szalay pulls off a much harder trick, writing engrossingly about new lovers who manage to go straight to irritation, pessimism, and pain. James and Katherine, the 30-something Londoners at the center of this smart and brave novel, are both floundering in their careers. James eagerly pursues the maddeningly inscrutable Katherine, who, though physically attracted to him, ranges from tepid to cold emotionally. "Does she know what she wants? She does not seem to... That is why she let him leave this morning thinking that everything would just go on." This might be pretty bleak stuff if Szalay were not such a lyrical, precise writer, deftly capturing the hyperawareness that often stands in for real communication between couples. This awkward dance may be anything but dreamy, but it's irresistible to watch.
— Karen Holt