The Round House, by Louise Erdrich, HarperCollins Publishers
Louise Erdrich must have a fantastically rich inner life, because she sees stories everywhere. Not only in the lives of ordinary people, both native and non-native, not only in history and mythology (which often turn out to be the same), not only in human passions, on which subject she is a wild and masterful expert. But also in the wind, the water, the buds of spring and the ice of winter, hope and despair, greed, starvation, and, on occasion, exultation.
Astray, by Emma Donoghue, HarperCollins Publishers
It is a measure of the strength of Emma Donoghue’s reputation — much enhanced by her previous book, the bestselling novel Room — that she has been allowed to publish a collection of short stories, although conventional wisdom decrees it a financially risky proposition for publishers. This is good news for readers who enjoy this form of storytelling, which requires the writer to pack a narrative punch into a limited space.