Cynthia Ozick (Houghton Mifflin)
Stephen Amidon (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux)
Judged by Kate Schlegel
Rose Meadows, the narrator of Ozick’s latest book, Heir to the Glimmering World, is an outsider with an inside seat to the story of the Mitwisser family, mid-1930s German-Jewish immigrants to New York. The seven Mitwissers are dealing not only with the memories of their better life in Europe but also with the silent fallout of family secrets, and Rose, hired as Herr Mitwisser’s secretary, becomes the entire family’s amanuensis.
Human Capital also is set in the New York City area, but in the spring of 2001, as the stock markets are crumbling. The Connecticut town of Totten Crossing, home to hedge-fund manager Quint Manning, is putting on a brave face, but stories of financial brinksmanship are behind nearly every door. Money’s corrupting power is at the center of the book’s interlocking plotlines.
Amidon’s story is fascinating, in a gory-accident-on-the-berm kind of way, but just as you can tell when an accident is fatal, you know where this book’s going early on. Ozick’s book lays out its secrets more deftly, as Rose filters bits of the past from episodes of daily life, so Heir to the Glimmering World is continuing to the next round.
Judge: Kate Schlegel
Types of books you tend to read frequently:
Historical fact or fiction
Types of books you rarely read:
Romance novels, car-repair manuals (unless desperate)
Favorite book of all time:
Atonement by Ian McEwan