Tinkers by Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press, 192 pages, $15). The alternating stories of a dying clockmaker and his tinker father crackle with a quiet intensity. The entire book is written in the elegaic mood of Virginia Woolf's "Time Passes" section of "To the Lighthouse." - Brigitte Frase
I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (Hyperion, 416 pages, $15.99). A rich, lively novel about a young Nigerian man who gets entangled in the world of the "419ers" -- the con artists behind e-mail scams. In Nwaubani's capable hands the characters are complex, and the backdrop of Nigeria is vivid and colorful. - Laurie Hertzel
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin Books, 291 pages, $23.95) It is eternally winter in this novel, set in Wisconsin in the early 1900s, and with the snow and cold come isolation and danger. Ralph Truitt has sent away for a mail-order bride, but when she steps off the train she is not the person he had expected. A haunting read about obsession and love. - L.H.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Amy Einhorn Books, 444 pages, $24.95). Narrated by three unlikely heroes -- two black maids who never set out to rock the boat, and a white aristocrat -- it's a tale of brutality and betrayal as well as courage as the three set out to publish anonymous stories that will expose how the town's elite treat "the help." - Jackie Crosby
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada, translated by Michael Hofmann (Melville House, 544 pages, $27). This World War II novel is so powerful that it almost hums with electricity. It is the story of Otto and Anna Quangel, a working-class Berlin couple whose world crashes down when they receive word that their only son has been killed during the invasion of France. - Michael J. Bonafield
The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys (Delacorte, 183 pages, $22). Forty vignettes -- fiction, but based on fact -- about the 40 times in history that the Thames River has frozen over. Beautifully illustrated, beautifully written, it is a testament to how nature can change everything, if only briefly. - L.H.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (Scribner, 256 pages, $25). Out of small details Toibin creates an enormous interior life of his protagonist, a young Irish woman who emigrates to the United States in the 1950s. The book lulls you into quietude and a sense of security that is ultimately shattered. - John Freeman
Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti, translated by Sarah Death (Penguin Paperback, 209 pages, $14). The unlikeliness of the pairing of farmer Benny and librarian Shrimp is evident from the unlikeliness of their meeting: on a bench in a cemetery. A bestseller in Sweden, this bittersweet tale looks at how love opens doors -- even while other factors conspire to slam those same doors shut. - L.H.
Once the Shore by Paul Yoon (Sarabande Books, 224 pages, $15.95). This astonishing debut collection creates the impression of simultaneous opposites -- intimacy and infinity, near and far. After reading each one you will experience the same silent gasp that comes after seeing a magic trick, minus the tiny bit of wounded pride that comes with being conned. - Emily Carter
Love and Summer by William Trevor (Viking, 224 pages, $25.95). On a summer day in Ireland in the 1950s, a stranger comes to town and wins the heart of a farmer's young wife. This is vintage Trevor, unfolding deliberately and inevitably, with great insight into the lives of unhappy people on life's fringe. - L.H.
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (Norton, 247 pages, $23.95). Eight brilliant and evocative short stories set in Mueenuddin's native Pakistan. A finalist for the National Book Award. - L.H.
The Truth About Love by Josephine Hart (Knopf, 224 pages, $24). The opening of Irish writer Josephine Hart's sixth novel, "The Truth About Love," is disorienting -- stream of consciousness from the mind of a 17-year-old boy who has been gruesomely and fatally injured by his own homemade bomb. Although the story of his family coming to terms with his loss is riveting, it is Hart's superb, elliptical writing that readers will relish most. - Katherine Bailey
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro (Knopf, 320 pages, $25.95). More than virtually anyone else's, Alice Munro's stories unfold in surprising ways that nonetheless seem perfectly right. They are marvels of unhurried compression in which precision looks casual, in which everything is clearly in its place, though no one else might think to put it exactly thus. -- Ellen Akins
New York by Edward Rutherfurd (Doubleday, 880 pages, $30). After conquering the histories of Ireland, London and Russia, Rutherfurd turns his sights to the United States, tracing the growth of New York City through the overlapping lives of several generations. As with all of his massive books, geography and scope take precedence over plot, but it's an engrossing page-turner nonetheless. - L.H.
The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins, 512 pages, $27.95). These fabulous stories of sex, passion, romance and mystery reveal the beginnings of Erdrich's novels. But they are much more than that, standing on their own as wonderful and surprising stories in their own right. - J.F.