June Publications

Edited by novelist Amit Chaudhuri (A New World), The Vintage Book of Modern Indian Literature gives a broad sense of the subcontinent's literary traditions from the mid-19th century to the present day, including works translated from Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and other Indian languages. Colonial-era writers like Rabindranath Tagore are featured beside 20th-century figures such as R.K. Narayan, Salman Rushdie and Vikram Seth as well as upstarts like Pankaj Mishra. The anthology includes not only fiction but also autobiographical writing and the occasional essay. (Vintage, $16 paper 672p ISBN 0-375-71300-X)

Great Granny Webster, Caroline Blackwood's grimly hilarious and semi-autobiographical 1977 tale of boozy, oddball aristocrats is back in print, and its title character—an impossibly dour and correct old woman—is just one of the chilly, eccentric relatives that the teenage narrator has to endure. Other loved ones include a deranged grandmother and a cheerfully suicidal aunt. The novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize when first released. Blackwood, an Irish heiress and one-time wife of Lucian Freud and Robert Lowell, is the subject of the recent biography Dangerous Muse. (NYRB Classics, $12.95 paper 120p ISBN 1-59017-007-5)

Three sisters both lose and find themselves in the political and social upheavals of 1960s and '70s Philadelphia in Shawne Johnson's impressionistic, earnest debut novel, Getting Our Breath Back. Oldest sister Violet has nearly made herself ill trying to be a proper wife, but it hasn't stopped her husband from chasing skirts. Middle sister Lilly was once a college student, an aspiring writer and a Black Panther, but is now majoring in heroin, while baby sister Rose is a sculptor and single mother who can't seem to settle on a husband. All three women witness the erosion of their formerly middle-class old neighborhood and participate in the other cataclysmic social changes of their day. (Dutton, $22.95 272p ISBN 0-525-94654-3)

No sooner are criminal defense aces Sheldon Gold and Mairead O'Clare successful at getting Boston gangster Big Ben Friedman acquitted of murder than the eponymous Juror Number Eleven is found dead in her home—just after she places an urgent call for help to O'Clare. Terry Devane's sophomore legal thriller brings back O'Clare and Gold and their support staff—not to mention a host of colorful witnesses and suspects, from an elderly doctor who looks like Yoda and has a penchant for 20th-century Russian composers to a once-blind hardware store owner who miraculously regained his sight—for another round of sleuthing, courtroom drama, rapid-fire dialogue and wry humor. (Putnam, $24.95 320p ISBN 0-399-14886-8)

Every year, Amanda Kincaid vacations on Long Island with her extended family. She's there again this year at the start of Maryanne Stahl's thoughtful if belabored novel Forgive the Moon, but things are different: her mother is dead, her husband has stayed at home in Atlanta and her college-age daughter is living with her boyfriend in Boston. Only her 10-year-old son, Damien, is still by her side as she mulls over her rocky relationship with her husband and her memories of her schizophrenic mother. A romance with a local doctor provides a bit of relief, but Stahl doesn't let her protagonist slip into an easy happy ending. (NAL Accent, $12.95 paper 304p ISBN 0-451-20633-9)

Due to their homeland's ominous political past (and present), editor Martin Chalmers notes that many modern Austrian writers feel "like émigrés in their own country"; hence the stories that make up Beneath Black Stars tend to be as dark as the title suggests. Margit Schreiner takes a swipe at outdated pastoral representations of Austrian culture in "The Kargeralm Shepherd," which details a man's coupling with a sheep. Alfred Kolleritsch's stunning "A Platonic Meal" is an indictment of class systems and a study of "the transformation of desire into appetite and gluttony." Adventurous readers will be intrigued by such formally innovative pieces as "A Place for Coincidences," Ingeborg Bachman's disjointed, hallucinatory vision of Berlin. (Serpent's Tail, $14 paper 241p ISBN 1-85242-379-X)

Cross Roads contains two short story collections by beloved Czech author Karel Capek (1890—1938). The former, the previously untranslated Wayside Crosses, is more metaphysical in tone: its tropes include a lone footprint in the snow and a single word etched onto the nightstand of a sick man. Characters utter lines like "How external everything is!" and two of the stranded travelers in "The Lost Way" sound like rejects from Beckett. The second collection, Painful Tales, is more satisfying in its excavation of its characters' inner lives—a cuckolded husband, a grieving father and a frustrated governess. Even translator Norma Comrada admits that "these are neither Capek's best nor his most enjoyable stories," but completists might show some interest. (Catbird, $23 256p ISBN 0-945774-55-9; paper $14 -54-0)

Of the six novels that Jules Verne left unpublished at the time of his death, five were heavily revised and rewritten by his son, Michel. In recent years, two of the original manuscripts have been published as they were left by Verne. Magellania, which is setamong the islands at the southern tip of South America, is the third. In it, Verne follows the exploits of Kaw-djer, a European whose rallying cry is "Neither God nor master!" When Chile takes possession of the remaining free islands, he contemplates suicide, but is deterred by the need to save a large group of shipwrecked pioneers. Verne sketches out theories of politics and self-government in this condensed tale; it is clearly half-finished, but still powerful in its portrayal of a man seeking the last unsettled corner of the earth. (Welcome Rain, $26.95 208p ISBN 1-55649-179-7)

Correction:PW's review of Michael Redhill's Martin Sloane (Forecasts, May 20) listed the agent for the book incorrectly. The agent for Martin Sloane is Ellen Levine.