In the Stacks: Great satire and a Japanese mystery are among the library's new fiction

Also a novel exploring the lives of those living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan

Posted: Sunday, May 02, 2004

Lots of new fiction is on the shelves at the Juneau Public Libraries!

"Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You," by Laurie Lynn Drummond: This collection of stories set in Baton Rouge focuses on five female police officers and their lives both in and out of uniform. Each officer is in a different stage in her career, facing sets of problems as unique as their personalities, from Sarah, whose morals conflict with her sense of justice, to Cathy, working out what changes come about from dating a fellow officer. Harshly compelling stories, full of emotion and reality.

"Ship Sooner," by Mary Sullivan: In this unusual book, the heroine is a thirteen year-old girl with exceptional hearing and one best friend. Ship can hear everything around her: frost forming on glass and secrets whispered between friends, but this doesn't endear her to anyone. Her feeling of being an outsider intensifies when her older sister begins closing her out and her best friend disappears after Christmas. And then she hears, very distantly, a baby crying in the woods and her whole life changes.

"When Washington was in Vogue," by Edward Christopher Williams: This gem of a book was previously published as a serial in The Messenger between 1925-26: this is its first time in book form. A charming love story recently rediscovered, it tells the story of Davy, a light-skinned black man, who is gradually falling in love with Caroline, a darker-skinned flapper. As readers are gradually introduced to Davy's world through a series of letters he sends home to a friend, we catch a glimpse of the vibrant and hopeful society of the 1920s.

"The Rebellion of the Beasts," by Leigh Hunt: 120 years before George Orwell's "Animal Farm," there was John Sprat, who incited the overthrow of humanity through the injudicious use of a recipe that allowed humans and animals to communicate. After stealing a Cambridge University library book as a prank, Sprat becomes fascinated by the claims of its contents. Following the recipe given, he discovers that it works - he can talk to animals! Like "Animal Farm," this is a great satire that shouldn't be missed.

"Out," by Natsuo Kirino: Winner of the top Japanese mystery award, the Grand Prix, this is the twisted story of co-workers at a box lunch factory who help conceal a murder. When Masako decides to help her friend Yayoi after Yayoi kills her deadbeat husband, she enlists the other members of the night crew at the boxed lunch factory to dispose of the body. But someone slips up, (part of) the body is found, and the yakuza get involved. In their search for the truth, detectives play cat-and-mouse with the determined but inexperienced criminals and the Japanese mafia.

"The Swallows of Kabul," by Yasmina Khadra: Set in modern day Afghanistan, this beautifully written but brutal novel explores the lives of those living under Taliban rule. On one side is Mohsen, whose family has been destroyed by the religious fanatics, and whose wife, once a teacher, is no longer able to leave the house without escort. On the other is Atiq, a prison guard whose conversion to fanaticism is sincere, and yet who struggles to keep his faith in the face of his wife's chronic illness that neither doctor nor prayer can cure. The two couples are brought together as a result of an accident, with horrifying consequences for all.

"Madras on Rainy Days," by Samina Ali: Layla, a nineteen year-old Indian-American college student, grudgingly allows her parents to take her to India to be married. She is surprised to find that instead of feeling exiled from the world she has grown up with, she feels welcomed home, and realizes that by encouraging her to "inhabit America without being inhabited by it," her parents built a wall between Layla and her American peers. But no matter how comfortable her new life is, inescapable surprises lie in wait for her.

"Belshazzar's Daughter," by Barbara Nadel: When an elderly Jewish man is found murdered in his bed, it looks at first as though it is the work of one of Istanbul's neo-Nazi groups. But as Inspector Cetin Ikmen delves deeper, he finds that the threads of cause and effect stretch back to the previous century and through several countries.

If you'd like to place a hold on any of these titles, call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249. If you have internet access, your library card, and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our website ( and looking at our catalog. Placing holds on items featured in In the Stacks is now even easier! The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: simply look up the column, click on the title you want, and you will be ready to place a hold.

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