Little, Brown & Company
Yes, this is the highly-praised, massively advanced (financially and otherwise) Big Lit Novel of 2011. It's been called a baseball book, a campus novel, a post-Franzen mirror-to-society - and this overlapping story of five characters at tiny Westish College in Wisconsin is all of the above in eloquent, wonderful ways. Mostly, though, it's a bittersweet analysis of paradox and perception: contrasting college kids who can't wait to escape the bonds of Youth, while those in late middle-age would give anything to go back and seize Time Lost. "The students' mistakes lay ahead of them," one older college adminstrator muses, "(and) were prospective and therefore glorious. His own lay in the past."
- RICK KOSTER