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by Nihad Sirees ; translated from the Arabic by Max Weiss

Publishers Weekly Syrian writer Sirees takes on, with piercing insight, the huge themes of freedom, individuality, integrity, and, yes, love, in this beautiful, funny, and life-affirming novel, his first to be translated into English. On the 20th anniversary of an unnamed despot's rule, in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, Fathi Sheen, a silenced writer, is caught in the frenzy of the crowd that "turns all those individuals into droplets in a raging human flood." He runs afoul of the security forces and his ID is confiscated; he arrives at his mother's house to learn that she is planning to marry a man high up in the regime; and on his way to see his girlfriend Lama, "a liberated woman who owns herself," he has a series of absurd encounters as he confronts the noise of the streets-the "roar"-and indulges in laughter and sex to resist the government that would have him "compose poetry that glorifies the leader and write heroic novels." Originally published in 2004, the novel indisputably connects to current events, but its value as art and political commentary is timeless. Sirees has written a 1984 for the 21st century. Agent: Jane Loudon. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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by Joyce Carol Oates

Publishers Weekly Elegiac and urgent in tone, Oates's wrenching 26th novel (after Zombie) is a profound and darkly realistic chronicle of one family's hubristic heyday and its fall from grace. The wealthy, socially elite Mulvaneys live on historic High Point Farm, near the small upstate town of Mt. Ephraim, N.Y. Before the act of violence that forever destroys it, an idyllic incandescence bathes life on the farm. Hard-working and proud, Michael Mulvaney owns a successful roofing company. His wife, Corinne, who makes a halfhearted attempt at running an antique business, adores her husband and four children, feeling "privileged by God." Narrator Judd looks up to his older brothers, athletic Mike Jr. ("Mule") and intellectual Patrick ("Pinch"), and his sister, radiant Marianne, a popular cheerleader who is 17 in 1976 when she is raped by a classmate after a prom. Though the incident is hushed up, everyone in the family becomes a casualty. Guilty and shamed by his reaction to his daughter's defilement, Mike Sr. can't bear to look at Marianne, and she is banished from her home, sent to live with a distant relative. The family begins to disintegrate. Mike loses his business and, later, the homestead. The boys and Corinne register their frustration and sadness in different, destructive ways. Valiant, tainted Marianne runs from love and commitment. More than a decade later, there is a surprising denouement, in which Oates accommodates a guardedly optimistic vision of the future. Each family member is complexly rendered and seen against the background of social and cultural conditioning. As with much of Oates's work, the prose is sometimes prolix, but the very rush of narrative, in which flashbacks capture the same urgency of tone as the present, gives this moving tale its emotional power. 75,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.)

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Everyone knows the Mulvaneys: Dad the successful businessman, Mike the football star, Marianne the cheerleader, Patrick the brain, Judd the runt, and Mom dedicated to running the family. But after what sometime narrator Judd calls the events of Valentine's Day 1976, this ideal family falls apart and is not reunited until 1993. Oates's (Will You Always Love Me, LJ 2/1/96) 26th novel explores this disintegration with an eye to the nature of changing relationships and recovering from the fractures that occur. Through vivid imagery of a calm upstate New York landscape that any moment can be transformed by a blinding blizzard into a near-death experience, Oates demonstrates how faith and hope can help us endure. At another level, the process of becoming the Mulvaneys again investigates the philosophical and spiritual aspects of a family's survival and restoration. Highly recommended.?Joshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. System, Poughkeepsie, NY

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Oates limns a dysfunctional family.

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by Lisa McMann

Publishers Weekly The trick to getting hooked on this highly satisfying first novel is to look past its disjointed opening. The initial chapters consist of flashbacks into which are woven a series of repetitive scenes wherein Janie Hannagan is unwillingly sucked into others' dreams and nightmares, and suffers debilitating side effects. But as soon as McMann establishes Janie's strange skill, she throws just the right teen-centric ingredients into the story to propel it forward and grab readers. Tough and strong Janie, now 17, seems totally independent, charting a future that will lead away from her welfare mother's alcoholism. Her turbulent relationship with Cabel, the unwashed stoner boy-turned-handsome, pulsates with sexual tension--problematized by Janie's knowledge of his insistent dreams about killing a man. But then Cabel learns to communicate his desires to Janie through lucid dreaming at just about the same time that Janie finds out that she can influence the dreams she enters. The plot twists keep coming, even if one or two are shopworn, and the writing has a Caroline Cooney--like snap that's hard to resist. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-This clever novel opens with Janie Hannagan, 17, inside the star quarterback's dream-she knows it's his dream because he's the only one naked on the football field. Janie dreams along with her fellow students when they fall asleep near her-on the bus, in study hall, in boring classes, etc. She begins to dream with loner Cabel Sturmheller and discovers both his horrific childhood abuse and longstanding feelings for her. The third-person omniscient narration sets a perfect mood; readers are, like Janie, observers. Janie and Cabel's friendship is sweetly drawn, their conversations are smooth, and their romantic tension builds naturally. The language is realistically gritty. Unfortunately, McMann uses a plot twist right out of Law and Order to doom their relationship, and an even cheaper twist to reconcile them. Still, an economy of language, swift character development, and mysterious circumstances drive the narrative to a fast and mostly satisfying conclusion. McMann also gives useful attention to the science of dreaming. This book is ideal for reluctant readers, especially girls.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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