Be careful what you wish for. When a Cairo-based boy hopes his father disappears, he actually does and lives are shattered in the wake of his vanishing. (The Dial Press, $22)

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Once again, the extraordinary Patchett takes us to a faraway land (the Amazon) and bewitches us with her prose. (Harper, $26.99)

"Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories" by Edith Pearlman

A complicated and intriguing set of stories that transverse the globe--and time. (Lookout Books, $18.95)

"The Devil All the Time" by Donald Ray Pollock

If you've been looking for a collection of brutal, oddball characters set loose in the southern Midwest, stop here. This chilling novel will go well with warm eggnog. (Doubleday, $26.95)

"Stone Arabia" by Dana Spiotta

Need a gift for a difficult sibling? Perhaps you can bond a bit over this poignant examination of a tight brother-and-sister pair who weather the world and passage of time together. (Scribner, $24)

"The Submission" by Amy Waldman

All heck breaks loose in Manhattan when the anonymous winner of contest to design a memorial for a terrorist attack turns out to be an American Muslim. Waldman masterfully captures the tensions and moral quandaries of the post-9/11 era. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26)

"Salvage the Bones" by Jesmyn Ward

Set against a hurricane bearing down on the Gulf of Mexico, this novel follows the lives of some residents of Bois Savage, Miss. Though hard to swallow at times because of the realistic descriptions of rural poverty, the story reminds readers of the unbreakable bonds of familial love. (Bloomsbury, $24)

"11/22/63" by Stephan King

The master of horror tackles JFK's assassination. (Scribner, $35)

"The Grief of Others" by Leah Hagar Cohen

A secret slowly emerges to threaten the unity of a family already struggling with the death of a new baby. (Riverhead, $26.95)

"Gryphon: New and Selected Stories" by Charles Baxter

Whether comic or austere, these skillful stories are all heartbreaking. (Pantheon, $27.95)

"My American Unhappiness" by Dean Bakopoulos