article

04.29.113:34 PM ET

3 Must-Read Novels

Three great new novels not to be missed: A coming-of-age story about a teen connecting with his father, a sweeping tale of stranded émigrés, and a mad Russian satire.

Luke Prescott, the 17-year-old protagonist of former dancer Meg Howrey’s gently humorous, smoothly written first novel, Blind Sight, is the anti-Holden Caulfield: polite, mature, upbeat, thoughtful. After finding out that his mystery father is a famous TV actor, Luke flies out to Los Angeles to pal around with him at red-carpet premieres, on TV shoots, and on dates with beautiful girlfriends. Raised by his mother and sisters, Luke has never had a man in his life, and his cool, handsome father fits the role perfectly. Soon enough Luke learns that not all is as it seems. 

The Free World: A Novel. By David Bezmozgis. 368 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $26. ()

A hefty, funny portrait of a family of Soviet Jewish èmigrès stranded in Rome in 1978. Family duty is The Free World’s warming theme: despite their near-constant quarreling—about where to live, what train to take, who should carry the luggage—the Krasnanskys show a piercing faithfulness to each other. So much so that the novel occasionally feels like a too-careful act of homage, the novel-as-family-tree (author David Bezmozgis’s own family emigrated from Latvia in the ’70s). But humor and a tense, illicit love affair move this novel swiftly to its sad end. 

Day of the Oprichnik: A Novel By Vladimir Sorokin. Translated by Jamey Gambrell. 208 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $23. ()

This take-no-prisoners satire from one of Russia’s literary stars depicts a futuristic, ultra-autocratic Moscow through the eyes of one of its deadliest state thugs. Over the course of a busy day he will intimidate, murder, beat, and rape anyone who poses a threat to Mother Russia and its new tsar. Vladimir Sorokin’s lurid, wildly inventive Day of the Oprichnik is a rowdy critique of Russia’s drift toward authoritarianism.

Taylor Antrim is fiction critic for The Daily Beast and the author of the novel The Headmaster Ritual.

how do i comment?
Get The Daily Beast In Your Inbox
By clicking "Subscribe", you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason
Follow The Daily Beast