What to Read This Summer
By Monica Ali
Some writers you'll follow anywhere. In Alentejo Blue, Monica Ali, whose Brick Lane probed Bangladeshi subculture in London, zeroes in on an impoverished but picturesque region in Portugal (the writer lived there for a time) where tourists gawk, expatriates try to get lost, and locals drown their boredom in whiskey. Ali's news from nowhere can seem so starkly real, you'll want to scrape the mud from your shoes. But stick with her: This stunningly crafted fiction will knock you off your feet.