Fiction – Focus on: The 1970s

Focus on: The 1970s
A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James

Inspired by the attempted assassination of musician Bob Marley on December 3, 1976, this Man Booker Prize-winning novel explores Jamaica’s turbulent history through multiple intersecting narratives that introduce more than a dozen characters. Framed as an oral history, A Brief History of Seven Killings features a diverse cast, an evocative and richly detailed setting, and a sprawling story told by a chorus of distinct voices in pitch-perfect dialogue.

The Flamethrowers: A Novel
by Rachel Kushner

This complex tale, which weaves together themes of art, oppression, politics, and creativity, follows Reno, a young woman who loves making art and racing her motorcycle — usually at the same time. More naive than she at first appears, Reno moves from Nevada to New York in 1975 to join the thriving avant garde art scene, where she gets involved with a successful older artist, Sandro Valera. The Valera family is responsible for the Moto Valera, a popular motorcycle, and Reno wins the chance to race with the company in Italy. It is there, with a reluctant Sandro, that Reno falls in with the radical movement. For a realistic depiction of the turbulent ’70s, you won’t go wrong with The Flamethrowers.

Everything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng

It is easy enough to identify the biggest problem the Chinese-American Lee family has in this moving tale of tragedies big and small — their lack of communication is evident even in the title. Though there is more than enough love, their expectations for each other and for themselves stifle their relationships. And the fallout — especially after the death of favorite daughter Lydia — is shattering. Their complex dynamic (incorporating an interracial marriage, which sticks out in their 1970s Ohio town, and dreams long deferred) is told in a devastating, and mesmerizing, manner.

Man at the Helm: A Novel
by Nina Stibbe

Her charmed life thrown into chaos when her father abandons their family, Lizzie takes it upon herself to find a new man for her mother when their new home — a tiny, gossipy English village — shuns them for not having a “man at the helm.” Charismatic nine-year-old Lizzie makes this a good read for fans of the admittedly all-American, modern-day Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, while the dry English wit and eccentric characters (along with Lizzie herself) will engage fans of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries. (Also, look for Lizzie’s on-going adventures in Paradise Lodge, newly published this month!)

The Silver Star: A Novel
by Jeannette Walls

In 1970, when their mother abandons them (and not for the first time), 12-year-old Bean and her older sister, Liz, flee the threat of California’s foster system and make their way across the country to relatives they’ve never met. In Virginia they find a home with a reluctant uncle, as well as a community struggling with desegregation and the effects of the Vietnam War. Their haphazard childhood has made them both resilient and remarkably naive, and while Bean assimilates relatively easily, it’s not quite the same for smart, quirky Liz. Their story, narrated by Bean, is a “captivating, read-in-one-sitting, coming-of-age adventure” (Booklist).

List created 7/18/16 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

Posted in Adult Staff Picks, Reading Lists and tagged , , , .