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.

July 27: The American novelist and critic Elizabeth Hardwick was born on this day in 1916.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.