What to read: The best of February fiction

Amy Tan is back in "Joy Luck" territory, Don DeLillo gets metaphysical, Julian Barnes tackles the eternal triangle and more.

Published February 21, 2001 7:20PM (EST)

Though it may be short on days, this February is a month ripe with terrific fiction, from the latest Chinese-American epic from bestselling author Amy Tan to a first novel that kicks in the door of Southern literature. Julian Barnes, author of "Flaubert's Parrot," is back with a story of love's eternal vexations, and "Underworld" author and literary poobah Don DeLillo delivers a surprisingly slim meditation on the existential aspects of grief. We've also made a (very rare) exception to our policy of only reviewing brand-new books by recommending Matthew Kneale's "English Passengers," a novel we loved too much to let it pass without a rousing cheer.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Love, etc. by Julian Barnes
The eternal triangle returns in this story of a woman who has left her stolid, successful husband for a charming wastrel.
Reviewed by Amy Benfer

The Body Artist by Don DeLillo
A grieving woman, an almost empty house and a very strange visitor add up to a metaphysical puzzle by this American master.
Reviewed by Maria Russo

A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore
In this Gothic wonder of a novel, madness, incest and even worse follow a mother's ruthless desertion.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen

Rides of the Midway by Lee Durkee
With this full-tilt novel of youthful catastrophe and hellbent debauchery, a bartender kicks in the door of Southern literature.
Reviewed by Jonathan Miles

The Lecturer's Tale by James Hynes
In this academic satire with a supernatural twist, a beleaguered adjunct lecturer acquires the power to fulfill his dreams -- for good and evil.
Reviewed by Amy Reiter

English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
This tale of a misbegotten quest to find the Garden of Eden in Tasmania effortlessly blends the hilarious and the heartbreaking.
Reviewed by Laura Miller

Everyday People by Stewart O'Nan
In a neighborhood on the brink of exile, the author of "Prayer for the Dying" sets a family of criminals, converts, adulterers and saints.
Reviewed by Amy Benfer

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
The bestselling author returns to the epic, cross-generational storytelling that made "The Joy Luck Club" an international hit.
Reviewed by Maria Russo

Crooked River Burning by Mark Winegardner
This unexpected but moving fictional tribute to Cleveland teems with real-life figures like Eliot Ness and Alan Freed.
Reviewed by Amy Reiter

By Salon's critics

MORE FROM Salon's critics

Related Topics ------------------------------------------