The Bridgetower Sonata: Sonata Mulattica by Emmanuel Dongala; translated by Marjolijn de JagerWhat it's about: The life and times of 18th century violin prodigy George Bridgetower, the mixed-race son of a Polish mother and a Barbadian father who captivated European high society in the days leading up to the French Revolution.
Appearances by: the Marquis de Lafayette; then-ambassador Thomas Jefferson; and Ludwig von Beethoven, who dedicated a sonata to Bridgetower.
About the author: Congolese chemist and Guggenheim fellow Emmanuel Dongala has published works of poetry and fiction in his native French and is best known in the English-speaking world for his 2004 novel Johnny Mad Dog.
The Parted Earth by Anjali EnjetiWhat it is: an atmospheric and thought-provoking story of cultural and familial estrangement in the shadow of the 1947 Partition of India.
Read it for: the parallel narratives, which offer an intergenerational perspective; the reflective tone and engaging writing style.
Try this next: Namwali Serpell's The Old Drift, which follows another Indian family across borders and decades as they navigate displacement and cross-cultural dynamics.
All the Children Are Home by Patry FrancisWhat it's about: In a small Massachusetts town in the late 1950s, a couple with three foster children take in a fourth -- a young indigenous girl whose sudden arrival brings this chosen family closer together.
Is it for you? The four foster children are survivors of traumatic abuse and neglect, and author Patry Francis does not shy away from the heartwrenching truth of their experiences.
Reviewers say: This "beautifully drawn saga" is a "powerful and deeply moving story" (Publishers Weekly).
The Paris Hours by Alex GeorgeParis, 1927: During a single remarkable day in the City of Lights, 4 strangers with 4 separate struggles have experiences that will change their lives forever.
Starring: puppeteer Souren, a refugee from the Armenian Genocide; journalist Jean-Paul, who dreams of moving to America to escape his wartime memories; painter Guillaume, whose debt to a loan shark has come due; and maid Camille, who carries the only copy of a manuscript by her late employer, Marcel Proust.
Read it for: the evocative portrait of Paris between the wars; the unexpected unifying thread connecting each of the 4 stories.
Voices in the Evening by Natalia GinzburgWhat it is: the compelling and incisive tale of two young star-crossed lovers in a small Italian town still recovering from World War II.
Read it for: the interplay between personal conflicts and those of the wider society -- as much as the couple at the center of the story are divided by the gulf between their families, their families and the town itself are divided by the legacy of fascism and events that took place during the war.
About the author: Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg was an anti-fascist activist who published under the pseudonym Alessandra Tornimparte during the anti-Semitic Mussolini years. Her other novels include Sagittarius and The Dry Heart.
When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-BrownWhat it's about: in 1930s Georgia during the hottest summer in living memory, this thought-provoking and richly detailed coming-of-age story follows Opal Pruitt, a Black girl on the cusp of adulthood, and the brutal acts of racist violence that will change her life and her community forever.
Read it for: the richly detailed writing and authentic, well-rendered characters.
Reviewers say: When Stars Rain Down is a "powerful Own Voices contribution to the historical fiction genre" (Kirkus Reviews).
White Shadow by Roy JacobsenSeries alert: This descriptive and lyrical follow-up to The Unseen is the second entry in a planned trilogy by Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen.
What it's about: Except for a short time 10 years ago working for a wealthy mainland family, Ingrid has spent her whole life on the tiny, isolated island where she grew up. Now she lives there alone, but the Nazi invasion of Norway is going to change everything about the life she has known.
For fans of: The Mercies by Kiran Hargrave; Evie Wyld's The Bass Rock.
The Kew Gardens Girls by Posy LovellWhat it's about: Hired on in 1916 at the Royal Botanical Garden to fill the positions of men away fighting in the war, two very different women form an unlikely friendship after bonding over their shared dedication to the suffragette cause.
Read it for: the atmospheric and bittersweet tone; the nuanced look at the motivations of conscientious objectors and the backlash they faced.
You might also like: A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier; Rhys Bowen's The Victory Garden.
The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena RossnerWhat it is: a lyrical, genre-bending blend of Hungarian folk tales, Jewish mysticism, and historical fiction
The setup: Rabbi Isaac and his three gifted daughters live in a tiny village deep in the woods, where they guard and preserve knowledge handed down through descendants of King Solomon. When a tragedy strikes they are forced to flee, but leaving their old identities behind is going to be much harder than they anticipated.
Reviewers say: Rena Rossner's second novel (following The Sisters of the Winter Wood) "offers a complex meditation on tragedy and tradition" (Publishers Weekly).
The Hidden Palace by Helene WeckerWhat it's about: Set in early 20th century New York, Polish golem Chava and Syrian jinni Ahmad reunite and try to build a life together, hidden among humans and in the shadow of major historical events.
Read it for: the large cast of well-developed characters; the intricate plotting and stylistic complexity, which will keep readers on their toes.
Series alert: The Hidden Palace is the long-awaited sequel to The Golem and the Jinni.
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