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The title story, about a woman who got herself painted by Sargent, is an elusive Jamesian affair; there's also a coming-out story, a ditsy ramble from a preservationist journal and ''Saint Monster,'' about a boy who unwillingly destroys his father. By Helen Schulman. In this novel a lonely year-old woman is reunited with a high school boyfriend who is dead and reincarnated.

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Through this invention, Schulman makes room for a charming exploration of personal rediscovery. By Thomas Kelly. A well-paced, violent thriller by a veteran of the construction trades who ably gathers Mafiosi, union officials and the feds in a large, engaging portrait of street-level New York that captures the lives of hard men, made so by hard work.

By John Wray. An extraordinary first novel, set in rural Austria in the 's; Wray, an American of Austrian descent, extracts from the Nazi-era eclipse of reason a kind of fictional meditation on the fate of the individual confronted by fascism. By Douglas Galbraith.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas Final Scene

Galbraith's first novel, set in the late 17th century, offers a perfectly convincing version of what now seems one of history's nuttier schemes: the attempt by a Scottish expedition to colonize the isthmus of Darien now called Panama. By Per Olov Enquist. A fast-paced historical novel ringing with the clash of ideas, set in the Danish court in the 's, when the young King Christian VII was dominated by his German physician, a fan of the French Enlightenment who tried to transform Denmark into a land of liberty, equality and fraternity; by a veteran Swedish novelist and playwright.

By Billy Collins. Clean, suburban, antiseptic, humorous poems by the new poet laureate of the United States. Death, longing and regret figure in his work, but only at the margins; the heart remains funny. By Amos Oz. A lucid, transparently playful novel about sexual hanky-panky involving a man and his son and several women in contemporary Tel Aviv and Katmandu; the author himself steps in, perhaps to flirt with us.

And most of the book is in verse. The author collaborated on Nicholas de Lange's translation. By Alex Shakar. A wild first novel about a young woman who has moved to Middle City and taken a job with a trend-spotting visionary who sees a perfect product in diet water. By Louis Begley. Begley's adroit novel of manners boldly renders Schmidt, his unlikable, rich, bigoted, defiant, aging protagonist whom we have seen before in ''About Schmidt'' , with the same humanizing fullness other authors save up for nice people.

Translated by John Felstiner. Felstiner, author of the biography ''Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew,'' has worked for more than two decades on these respectful translations, gathered from all periods of the poet's life. By Dennis McFarland. The mystery that follows the murder at the beginning of this novel lies not in the crime but in the struggles of the victim's survivors -- wife, son and best friend -- to find ways to go on living, resolutions of heart and mind that will let them find words for themselves and for one another.

By Peggy Payne.

Capsule Reviews

Estelle, the ferocious pound protagonist of this unsettling novel, lives in what isolation she can find in teeming Varanasi, India, with an awful sin in her past that she tries to keep out of her mind; once it is released, a kind of deliverance -- but no easy out -- becomes possible. Di Piero.


Di Piero, a translator and critic as well as poet, speaks conversationally but with concentration of loss, displacement and ordinary life, whether in personal relationships or in a kind of celebration of the run-down South Philadelphia of his childhood. By Emma Donoghue. A colorful, romping novel based on the real life of an 18th-century Englishwoman, a London prostitute at 14, who so loved pretty clothes that she did terrible deeds to get them. By Elizabeth Spencer. Stories whose heroines -- girls and women, wives and spinsters, usually belonging to the families who run affairs in Southern small towns -- seem to have been born worldly, shrewd and resourcefully witty.

By Haruki Murakami. Murakami's seventh novel to be translated into English concerns a beguiling, bohemian young woman, a male narrator who pines for her, and the woman she secretly, desperately loves; a sexual approach leads to a disappearance that defies rational explanation, but maybe not irrational. Ruthlessly unsentimental shorter fiction written from to ; most of it is set in the Muslim world, where Bowles lived, and inspects Muslim experience and sensibility along with the Western fascination with exotic people.

By David Lodge.

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The action in Lodge's most structurally complex novel so far is an affair between a swaggering, jet-setting academic star and a professor of creative writing who is trying to get over her husband's untimely death. By Micheline Aharonian Marcom. A vivid first novel depicts the sufferings of the Armenians during World War I; one character, an American consul, wonders, as the reader is meant to do, why such cruelties are so little noted by the world.

By Malcolm Bradbury. This posthumous novel addresses the question of posterity's treatment of writers; on an academic junket to St. Petersburg, a Bradburyish character proposes that authors never really die and their works continue, as a remarkable discovery in Russia confirms. By Jay Wright.

By Ivan Turgenev

Virtually all the works of this brilliant, original poet whose verse is charged with both learning and reflection, considering both roots and voyages born in New Mexico, Wright has lived in New England for 25 years now. By Jan Morris. An account both personal and historical of the heterogeneous corner of Italy that attracted James Joyce, Italo Svevo and Morris herself, partly because of the pleasurable melancholy she calls ''the Trieste effect. By Arthur Japin. A rich, spacious and humane first novel, set in the 19th century, by a Dutch writer whose protagonist, an Ashanti prince from the Gold Coast, is more or less taken hostage in the 's and compelled to live out his life in an exile that places no value on a black man.

By Walter Kirn. This novel concerns a year-old career transition counselor -- that is, he tells people they are fired -- whose obsession it is to acquire one million frequent flier miles and who cheerfully inhabits an alien universe he calls Airworld. By Nicholas Delbanco. A tender novel composed of the memories of a single family, Jewish escapees from Hitler's Germany to Britain and then America; with little plot or narrative, the book deploys interlinked lives the reader may enter into, and returns repeatedly to particular memories and accumulated family lore.

By Mark Kurlansky. A sophisticated novella and some wicked, merry stories set in the Caribbean basin and concerning the misunderstandings, misjudgments and missed connections between people separated by race, culture or anything else; the author's first book of fiction he's a newspaper person. By Mary Robison.

In Robison's first novel for a decade, Monica Breton known as Money has three ex-husbands she can't quite remember and two children she loves immensely but can't figure out how to help; she defends herself, painfully, with wit and irony, Ritalin and lots of rules for living.

By Isabel Colgate. With a sneaky humor and a frank delight in her characters, the English novelist depicts a sexagenarian brother and sister who meet for a few days in the country. By Jonathan Carroll. This intellectually diverting novel by an American expatriate based in Vienna crosses from fantasy to science fiction to psychological thriller as it confronts its hero with a dead but teleporting dog, doubles of himself at various ages and other alarming things.

By Sue Miller. The grasp of this ambitious novel stretches to seven generations; the narrator, an up-to-date twice-divorced mother, hears in her grandmother's journals the voice of a simpler time, and recognizes the weight and power of the pastoral impulse, valuable however much it is recognized as a simplification. By Geraldine Brooks. Authentic, affecting calamities misery, murder, torture, suicide, mass death, like that multiply in this historical novel set in a microcosm of society in extremis, an English town that quarantines itself in By Bobbie Ann Mason.

The characters in these stories tend toward detachment and excessive simplicity, but they regret their limitations and sense both the opportunities and the perils of the world beyond the sprawl of the mid-South; the craftsmanship of Mason's minimal observations is as diamond-sharp as ever.

Poetry & Prose — Light: Poems, Prose, Essay & Idea

Jean-Claude Romand was a pathological impostor, a liar about facts large and small. It was only a matter of time before his family smelled a rat. But he found a way to deal with that problem too. By Peter Raby. A well-researched, graceful biography of an English naturalist, a titan of self-effacement, who just missed being a household word because Charles Darwin was ready before he was with a book proposing ''the origin of species by means of natural selection. By Adam Nossiter.

The rationalizations that let the French dispose of the past are the subject of this sensitive book, which covers the trial of a former cabinet minister, the Vichy memory hole and the interpretation of a Nazi atrocity. By Ved Mehta. Mehta's latest autobiographical work steps out of chronological order into the 's, when the author was looking for love and not quite finding it; his recollections of four women, and his correspondence with them, poignant and occasionally hilarious, reveal a lot about the era and the man.

By Marie Arana. The child of a Peruvian father and an American mother, the author regards her girlhood from a vantage point at once intimately domestic and sweepingly allegorical, concluding finally that she has no need, and no desire, to reconcile the vastly separated longitudinal end points that define her family.

The First Three Generations. By George F.