What to read: The best of April fiction

Louise Erdrich's tale of a Catholic priest who's secretly a woman, Haruki Murakami's story of a vanished lover, a hilarious debut novel about a fake feng shui master who cons New York society and more.

By Salon's critics
Published April 19, 2001 7:07PM (EDT)

We were tempted. But to prepare you for our favorite fiction this month, we won't trot out that well-worn T.S. Eliot line about April. Instead, consider the opening line of George Orwell's "1984": "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." That's the kind of mood we were in -- ready for something a little bit wild and unexpected -- as we looked over the April fiction offerings.

Publishers traditionally release some of their most adventurous fiction in April, and -- hallelujah -- this year is no exception. The fiction that captivated us shared a boundary-crossing spirit. Call it novelistic wanderlust: This group of authors took us on rousing, even breathtaking journeys to places we'd never been. Some of these trips were geographical -- to colonial Ceylon in one novel, to South Africa in another -- and some were more metaphorical trips, such as one "experimental" novel that left us almost dizzy with readerly satisfaction.

If you, too, are feeling a little restless, check out these offerings. We're recommending a sparkling, surreal new work by the Japanese cult favorite Haruki Murakami; a hilarious, wildly inventive first novel about a con artist who fakes his way into New York society by pretending to be a feng shui master; a May-December romance set in a post-apartheid South Africa where violence is always just barely held at bay; the latest from National Book Award winner Louise Erdrich, which tells the story of a mysterious Catholic priest on an Ojibwe reservation, who's actually a woman; and more.

Our first pick: A cult-favorite novelist's seductive, eerie tale of a vanished lover

To check out our fiction picks from previous months, click below:

The best of March fiction
Allegra Goodman's hilarious tale of promiscuous spiritual seeking, Pat Barker's tough-minded look at a child who murders, Nuala O'Faolain's searing novel of middle-aged sexuality and more.
By Salon's critics [03/15/01]

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.
By Salon's critics [02/21/01]

The best of January fiction
Juicy new novels by A.S. Byatt and Peter Carey, love and death in a Bombay apartment house, impolite stories from a young literary light and more.
By Salon's critics [01/11/01]

The best winter novels
Run away to the circus, to a haunted Indian village, to a secret-filled Scottish island and more with the season's best fiction.
By Salon's critics [11/22/00]

Salon's critics

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