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Biblio File, NYPL Recommends: New & Noteworthy

NYPL Recommends: New & Notable: Little Gems


There is something special about a 200-250 page book. The story has a tight scope, the writing is often spare and concise, and the experience of reading it is discrete and memorable. Here are a few little gems we recommend. 



Chemistry by Weike Wang

A funny, honest, flawed, and relatable narrative voice from a first time novelist, about a Chinese-American graduate student struggling to understand her feelings about her family, her boyfriend and herself, reads like a really good sitcom.

Literary fiction, Authentic, flawed, relatable characters, Engaging, Lyrical, Spare




Taduno’s Song

Taduno’s Song by Odafe Atogun

A Kafkaesque first novel by a Nigerian author, lightly informed by the life of music superstar Fela Kuti, follows the experiences of musician Taduno, who returns from exile to his homeland only to discover that he has been forgotten and his girlfriend abducted by government agents.

Literary fiction, Love stories, Political fiction, Compelling, Spare





Marlena by Julie Buntin

Cat moves to a rural town in Michigan and meets her enigmatic neighbor Marlena. Within a year Marlena is dead, decades later a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces for Cat.

Literary fiction, Psychological fiction, Introspective, Character-driven, Nonlinear, Leisurely paced, Haunting, Melancholy, Compelling, Lyrical





A Separation

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

An unnamed narrator is recently separated from her husband. She has agreed at her husband's insistence to keep the separation a secret for the time being. She receives a phone call from her mother-in-law panicked because her son, who is working in Greece, has fallen out of touch. She persuades the narrator to travel to a remote region in Southern Greece to find him. What is so special about this novel is the way the narrator's personality (detached, unemotional, rational) matched the writing (steely sharp, precise, and menacing.) 

Psychological fiction, Introspective, Character-driven, Leisurely paced, Compelling, Spare



Human Acts

Human Acts by Han Kang

This one is not for the faint of heart. Translated from Korean, the novel follows the aftermath of a young boy's death during a violent student uprising as told from the perspectives of the event's victims and their loved ones. Difficult story but artfully rendered.

Literary fiction, Multiple perspectives, Political fiction, Character-driven, Disturbing, Heartwrenching, Thought-provoking Compelling, Lyrical, Spare, Stylistically complex




Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!




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