Maryland Almanac

December 23, 2007

Notes

Best 2007 Fiction: Here is a selection from the best of the fiction books reviewed by The Sun in 2007.

Bridge of Sighs / by Richard Russo / Knopf / 544 pages / $26.95. Russo's splendid chronicle of life in the hollowed-out town of Thomaston, N.Y., where a tannery's runoff is slowly spreading carcinogenic ruin.

On Chesil Beach / by Ian McEwan / Nan A. Talese / 208 pages / $22. An artful short tale by the master of the defining moment. It is 1962 when Edward, 23, and Florence, 22, marry and repair to a hotel on the Dorset coast for their honeymoon. They are both virgins, both apprehensive about what's next. It does not go well and nothing will ever be the same after.

Away / by Amy Bloom / Random House / 256 pages / $23.95. The story of a young Jewish immigrant, this book is a sweeping saga of endurance and rebirth. Encompassing prison, prostitution and poetry, Yiddish humor and Yukon settings, Bloom's tale offers linguistic twists, startling imagery, sharp wit and a compelling vision of the past. Bloom has created an extraordinary range of characters, settings and emotions. Absolutely stunning.

Best 2007 Non-Fiction: Here is a selection from the best of the non-fiction books reviewed by The Sun in 2007.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story / by Diane Ackerman / Norton / 288 pages / $23.95. Ackerman tells the remarkable World War II story of Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, who, with courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds. Using Antonina's diaries, other contemporary sources and her own research in Poland, Ackerman takes us into the Warsaw ghetto and the 1943 Jewish uprising and describes the Poles' revolt against the Nazi occupiers in 1944.

FDR / by Jean Edward Smith / Random House / 880 pages / $35. Independent biographer Smith crafts a magisterial biography of our most important modern president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The author's eloquent synthesis of FDR's complex and compelling life is remarkably executed and a joy to read.

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA / by Tim Weiner / Doubleday / 702 pages / $27.95 Weiner musters extensive archival research and interviews with top-ranking insiders, including former CIA chiefs Richard Helms and Stansfield Turner, to present the agency's saga as an exercise in trying to change the world without bothering to understand it.

Calendar

Today

RAFAEL ALVAREZ, MIMI ZANNINO and AIRIN MILLER -- Three authors with deep roots in Southeast Baltimore will read from their works. Zannino has written two poetry collections, Miller writes fiction and Alvarez writes fiction, essays and screenplays. / 2 p.m. / Pratt Library - Southeast Anchor Library / 3601 Eastern Ave.

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