This ambitious first novel by David Whitehouse features a humongous protagonist at its comic center. Mal Ede, world's fattest man and bed-bound grotesque, finds his reluctant Boswell in his put-upon younger brother. Part parable of contemporary excess, part portrait of a dysfunctional family, the outrageous narrative evokes comparisons to Junot Díaz and John Kennedy Toole.

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…