1) The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño (FSG): Roberto Bolaño may well be the most influential novelist to come out of Latin America in the past 30 years. This novel, which wasoriginally published in Spanish in 1998, is the book that made him famous. By turns hilarious and harrowing, it combines a coming-of-age novel with a detective story and a dry-eyed examination of the way age undoes us all.
2) The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu (Riverhead): The immigrant stories we like to tell ourselves here in America are all about success, but what happens to the those immigrants who can't leave their bad memories behind? My friend Dinaw Mengestu, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, gives us one answer in this poignant novel.
3) Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee. (Knopf): Hermione Lee wrote the best biography I've ever read about Virginia Woolf. I can't wait to find out what she says about Edith Wharton, who wrote a novel I've read a least six times. Its ending is like a Rorschach blot; it can be read a least three different ways.
4) Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis (FSG): As far as I'm concerned, Lydia Davis is the best short story writer alive. She puts out a collection. I read it. It's as simple as that.
5) Falling Man by Don DeLillo (Scribner): I suppose this is technically a summer book (it comes out in June), but I'm hoping to read the galley in the spring. Falling Man is DeLillo's novel about 9/11 and its aftermath. Since DeLillo knows a lot about New York (I heard his son lived near the Towers) and since he's a tremendous writer, I'm expecting this book will take over my life for a weekend. I can't wait.
–Marcela Valdes, NBCC Board Member