What to read in December

From a delicious satire of literary ambition to a futuristic mystery by a Nobel laureate, we pick the month's best new books.

By Salon's critics
Published December 5, 2002 11:11PM (EST)

You might think the deep midwinter is prime reading season, when most people would love nothing more than to dive under a warm blanket with a good book. But publishers figure we're too busy with holiday activities, and so the December pickings are usually very sparse indeed. Nevertheless, we've managed to ferret out a handful of gems chosen from both the November and the December offerings, novels to make the long nights seem short, or at least to make you glad they're long! (And for the really long ones, we also recommend Donna Tartt's "The Little Friend.")

From a page turner penned by a Nobel laureate to Alice McDermott's pristine tale of girlhood innocence lost, to a wicked satire of literary ambitions run amok, there's a book here for every taste. A.S. Byatt continues her intellectual investigation of the heady 1960s with a story of utopian dreams gone terribly wrong, a new novelist charts the heart-rending aftermath of World War II, and a venerable British voice chronicles the disintegration of contemporary London. We think this batch'll get us through the winter.

Our first pick: A potter faces off against an all-encompassing commercial monolith with a secret in this futuristic tale by a Nobel laureate

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