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Light and Lively Reading?

My new project, which I’m now about 8,000 words into, is something different from anything I’ve done before. It’s a light (and I hope smart) novel. I won’t say anything more about it for now, but I need some book recommendations. I’ve been reading serious literary fiction and my non-fiction has consisted of an immersion in the Stalin era, except for the current book I’m reading, a memoir about a family’s history with depression. It’s time for a change.

I have a craving for some light and lively fiction. By that I don’t necessarily mean genre: I don’t want to read crime fiction, for example. On the other hand, I would consider Momo by Emile Ajar, which is poignant and hilarious, as well as brilliant (it’s about an Arab boy raised by an elderly Jewish woman who is a holocaust survivor and ex-prostitute), quite right for the moment, except that I’ve read it. Similarly The Finkler Question, which I also found hilarious and brilliant. I’m looking for humour, truth, and if possible beauty. But I’ll do without the beauty if sufficiently engaged and amused.

Any suggestions?



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

14 thoughts on “Light and Lively Reading?

  1. Oh, now there’s a challenge! I’m not sure I’ve read anything lately that fits your requirements, my tastes tend to run towards lighter reading in genres such as mystery and fantasy, and then more depressing literary / nonfiction.

  2. Can’t think of anything at the moment. But I’ll be interested to hear what you do find. Humour, truth and beauty you say? I just googled those terms and some interesting reads popped up – but I don’t know them so can’t recommend that you read them.

    1. Thanks, Pete. I’ve got a few on my list, Russia and ballet focused coincidentally, based on recommendations: The Dancer and Russian Winter, 2 novels, and Bloomsbury Ballerina, which is biography.

  3. The book I’ve just finished would fit your requirements, except it isn’t fictional. The Mango Orchard by Robin Bayley – gorgeous Mexican landscapes and a very sweet story.

  4. Ooh recommendations. I like Alison Lurie and Anne Tyler for the mix of humour, grace and truth. And I adored The Orchard by Drusilla Modjeska for truth and beauty. Oh and I love Barbara Pym for clever humour (though she is quite dark in a way, despite her lightness). Richard Russo is probably the funniest writer I know of – try That Old Cape Magic. Good luck with the new project!

  5. Lilian, I am enjoying Web of Angels! Some favs: BROOKLYN by C. Toibin. HAPPY ALL THE TIME by Laurie Colwin is an old fav. TILT, a delightful YA by Alan Cumyn, , OLIVE KITTERAGE byStrout…Of all these, I would go with TILT!

    1. Thanks so much Sandra! Both for your comment about Web of Angels and the recommendations. I read Olive Kitterage and did like it very much–the others I’m looking forward to having a look at.

  6. Try The Housemail, by Amma Darko about women in Ghana. I am just finshing a review of it which I will have on my blog in a day or two.

    Glad to have found your blog. I liked your comments about historical fiction on litlov and now want to find some of your books. Your perspective in writing them sounds great.

      1. I just posted this review in case you missed it. It’s Housemaid, not Housemail. You might also like Nalo Hopkinson’s novels. I reviewed one, but have enjoyed others.
        Thanks for asking this question. I love light non-genre reading.

      2. I have posted the review now, in case you missed it. It’s HousemaiD, no housemail. Enjoy. You might also like the novels of Nalo Hopkinson. I also reviewed her new Moon’s Arms.
        I have found and ordered your Polish village book and look forward to reading it.
        Thanks for posting your question. I love light non-genre books.

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