Marilynne Robinson’s “Housekeeping.” Winner of the Pen/Hemingway Award and current NEA Big Read title.
“A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, the eccentric and remote sister of their dead mother. The family house is in the small town of Fingerbone on a glacial lake in the Far West, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town “chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere.” Ruth and Lucille’s struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transcience.” – Publisher’s blurb.
Other titles added:
The White King: a Novel, by Hungarian author György Dragomán. “Djata is an 11-year-old boy coming to grips with his father’s abduction and internment at a forced labor camp. His mother, preyed upon by secret police officers and venal dignitaries, is powerless to save her husband, and Djata’s paternal grandfather, an unrepentant Party man, blames the internment on Djata’s mother as he spirals into alcoholism and madness. Meanwhile, Djata’s excursions in school, among his friends, at sports and in the countryside, almost without fail, are exercises in nihilism and cruelty. Beaten and threatened by coaches, teachers, construction workers and even complete strangers, children absorb the violence and terror and re-enact it on one another. An unremitting terror drives most of Djata’s life, even when authority figures are not present.” (From Amazon). The New York Times called it “darkly beautiful,” and a “scathing portrait of life in a totalitarian society.”
Fatelessness, and Fiasco, two books in a trilogy by Hungarian author Imre Kertész. He is the first Hungarian to win a Nobel Prize winner in Literature (2002). Fatelessness is the story of a boy growing up in the Auschwitz concentration camp. In Fiasco, a young man returns from a Nazi concentration camp to a homeland taken over by Soviets. Review of Fiasco from the New Republic and review of Fateless from the Guardian newspaper.