1950s -- fiction

The Death of Mr. Love

By Indra Sinha

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This novel was inspired by a true story where the victim became a villain and the killer became a hero, offers a rare and fascinating insight into the psychosexual undercurrents of Indian life. The reverberations from the notorious Nanavati society murder in 1950s Bombay -- the fatal consequence of an affair between an Indian playboy and his married English lover -- were so great that they reached the offices of Prime Minister Nehru and changed the face of the Indian justice system irrevocably. What is not known -- has never been known -- is that a second, connected crime, so cruel that it destroyed the lives of two women, went unreported and has remained unpunished. Until now.
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Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet

By Xinran

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"Shu Wen and her husband had been married for only a few months in the 1950s when he joined the Chinese army and was sent to Tibet for the purpose of unification of the two countries. Shortly after he left she was notified that he had been killed, although no details were given. Determined to find the truth, Shu Wen joined a militia unit going to the Tibetan north, where she soon was separated from the regiment.

"Without supplies and knowledge of the language, she wandered, trying to find her way until, on the brink of death, she was rescued by a family of nomads under whose protection she moved from place to place with the seasons and eventually came to discover the details of her husband’s death. … Xinran has recreated Shu Wen’s journey, writing beautifully and simply of the silence and the emptiness in which Shu Wen was enveloped. The book is an extraordinary portrait of a woman and a land, each at the mercy of fate and politics. It is an unforgettable, ultimately uplifting tale of love loss, loyalty, and survival."

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Giovanni's Room

By James Baldwin

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"Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart."
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The Orchard on Fire

By Shena Mackay

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“Set in the small English village of Stonebridge in the Fifties, this is the story of eight-year-old April Harlency's coming of age in a place where the charm of the local landscape contrasts sharply with the prejudices, vicious gossip, and vagaries of what we would now call child abuse. As the Harlency family moves from their rented rooms to run the Copper Kettle Tearoom (poorly), their ex-landlord hangs a notice on the window: 'No Blacks. No Irish. No Pets.'

"April befriends the red-headed, energetic Ruby who lives above her parents' butcher shop where, as April says, 'I learned the fate of Pansy Pig and all her pink litter and burst into tears.' The two girls form an immediate and fast friendship. April also befriends the lonely Mr. Greenridge who presses his unwanted sexual advances on her. To escape the pressures of daily life, April and Ruby find a hideaway in the middle of an orchard where, together, they build the 'camp of our dreams.'"

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A Suitable Boy

By Vikram Seth

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Set in the post-colonial India of the 1950s, this sprawling saga involves four families--the Mehras, the Kapoors, the Chatterjis and the Khans--whose domestic crises illuminate the historical and social events of the era. Like an old-fashioned soap opera (or a Bombay talkie), the multi-charactered plot pits mothers against daughters, fathers against sons, Hindus against Muslims and small farmers against greedy landowners facing government-ordered dispossession. The story revolves around independent-minded Lata Mehra: Will she defy the stern order of her widowed upper-caste Hindu mother by marrying the Muslim youth she loves? The search for Lata's husband expands into a richly detailed and exotically vivid narrative that crisscrosses the fabric of India
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The Rum Diary: A Novel

By Hunter S. Thompson

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As a young reporter in the 1950's, Paul Kemp works for a newspaper in Puerto Rico and through his eyes are portrayed colorful characters in the days when newspapers flourished.

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The Shadow of the Wind

By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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"Barcelona, 1945--just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work.

"To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love."

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Behind the Scenes at the Museum

By Kate Atkinson

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A family saga chronicles a century of life as four generations of Yorkshire women move through two World Wars, coronations, secrets, heartbreak, and happiness, all seen through the eyes of an inimitable narrator named Ruby Lennox.

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Fearless Jones

By Walter Mosley

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"Paris Minton is minding his own business--a small used bookstore of which he is the proud proprietor--when a beautiful woman named Elana Love walks in and asks a few questions. Within the next twenty-four hours, Paris has been beaten up, made love to, shot at, and robbed, and his bookstore has been burned to the ground. He's in so much trouble he has no choice but to get his friend Fearless Jones out of jail to help. Fearless Jones is an army veteran, a man who is proud of his accomplishments during World War II, and refuses to step into the background now that the war is over. Violence dogs Fearless's every step, and Paris has tried to keep his distance. But there's no friend like the one you need. The two set out to find the elusive Elana Love, and every step leads them deeper into a bewildering vortex of money and betrayal."

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She Flew the Coop: Life, Death, Sex and Recipes in Limoges, Louisiana

By Michael Lee West

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Vangie Nepper and her husband search for love outside the home and gossip about their neighbors in a sharp, humorous portrayal of life in a friendly but strait-laced Louisiana town in the fifties.

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