This Week's Best New Books

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The Wind That Lays Waste

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The Wind That Lays Waste

by Selva Almada, trans. by Chris Andrews

The Wind That Lays Waste

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A broken-down car on a rural Argentinian road brings together two unlikely father-and-teen pairs. Reverend Pearson should have listened to daughter Leni's warnings about their overused jalopy, but its failure lands them in the garage of El Gringo Brauer and his assistant, Tapioca. Pearson considers the unplanned stopover yet another opportunity to preach, but after an initial offer of cold drinks, Brauer quickly withdraws to resurrect Pearson's stalled car. While Leni watches warily, Tapioca just ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 25
Whisper Network

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Whisper Network

by Chandler Baker

Whisper Network

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Chandler Baker's Whisper Network starts with eyewitnesses saying what looked like "a giant bird" fell out of the sky. It wasn't a bird but a man, who wasn't super at all. Instead of leaping a tall building in a single bound, he appeared to have just leapt to his death.

The story backtracks to two months earlier, to the day the CEO of Truviv Inc. dies of a heart attack. All indicators point to the man's successor being Ames Garrett, the company's general counsel. Sloane, Ardie and Grace, all lawyers ... [ Read More » ]

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The Triumph of the Spider Monkey

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The Triumph of the Spider Monkey

by Joyce Carol Oates

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey

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Originally published in 1976, Joyce Carol Oates's The Triumph of the Spider Monkey reveals the mind of a serial killer in the aftermath of his capture. Bobbie Gotteson, abandoned in a bus station as an infant, grew up in foster care, persistently and systematically abused by almost everyone he encountered. Now, after having been convicted of hacking to death nine stewardesses, Gotteson retraces the steps of his miserable life as a wannabe entertainer and ladies' man, up through his final attack. ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 25
The Saturday Night Ghost Club

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The Saturday Night Ghost Club

by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

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Craig Davidson (Rust and Bone) harnesses the appeal of campfire tales in his coming-of-age story The Saturday Night Ghost Club. Jake Baker remembers the summer he was 12, when he believed in monsters and adult benevolence--and discovered both were purely imaginary. 

Jake lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where the magnificent Falls loom over seedy tourist traps. His Uncle Calvin owns the Occultorium, a store that attracts tourists as well as local kids eager to be a little scared. Jake himself ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 25
The Reunion

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The Reunion

by Guillaume Musso, trans. by Frank Wynne

The Reunion

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On the surface, Thomas Degalais is a success. He's an author with several respected novels, enough to support a comfortable life in Manhattan. He is the product of the Saint Ex, an elite French school on the Côte d'Azur. When Thomas receives an invitation to attend the school's 50th anniversary and celebrate the groundbreaking of a new building, he accepts without question--but not to catch up with old classmates. Saint Ex was "far from being a lost paradise"; instead, it was "the setting of ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 25
Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction

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Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction

by Chuck Klosterman

Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction

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In Raised in Captivity, beloved essayist Chuck Klosterman offers a collection of stories that may not be true but feel genuine all the same. As the book's playful subtitle--"fictional nonfiction"--suggests, these short works are at once utterly absurd and eerily familiar. Whether it's two airplane passengers discussing their obligation to disclose the presence of a wild puma in the lavatory, or an assassin who requires four years to kill his targets, Klosterman's characters are arguably at their ... [ Read More » ]

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The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

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The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

by Mo Willems

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

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Yes, that's the "Hallelujah Chorus" you hear. You're hearing it because there's a new Pigeon book from Mo Willems.

As The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! begins, the bird is tearing out its feathers. The Pigeon believes that school is totally unnecessary ("I already know EVERYTHING!"). The Pigeon worries about getting a pigeon hater for a teacher. The Pigeon--and here both the bird and the accompanying text grow tiny--is "scared." Following some bloodletting ("What if there is MATH? Or numbers?"; "Why ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 25
Moth

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Moth

by Isabel Thomas, illus. by Daniel Egnéus

Moth

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Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egnéus's Moth, about the transformation of the peppered moth (Biston betularia), is endowed with such a sense of wonder, the evolution story is almost elevated to the realm of myth.

It all begins "with a little moth... waking up from a long winter's sleep." "Hungry predators" lurk nearby--the moth flies away, joining other moths trying "not to get eaten." Most have "speckled, freckled wings," although there are a small number born with "wings as dark as charcoal." ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 25
Small World

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Small World

by Ishta Mercurio, illus. by Jen Corace

Small World

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When Nanda is young, "the whole" of her world is composed of comforting circles. Just after she's born, this means being "wrapped in the circle of her mother's arms"; as a toddler, the meaning expands to include "the circle of her loving family." It's not long before Nanda's world encompasses other shapes as well. Nanda gets "bigger and bigger," and her world grows with her. It opens up to include "a sway of branches" and "scaffolds of steel." It continues to increase in size as she rides a train ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 25
Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker

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Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker

by Kathleen Hale

Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker

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Some autobiographical writers can get by on voice alone. Others may get away with unspectacular prose if they have scintillating content. Then there's Kathleen Hale: each piece in her six-essay collection Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker succeeds as both a paragon of writerly execution and a crackerjack story.

In "Catfish," which has sparked considerable controversy since it ran in the Guardian in 2014, Hale goes in search of the true identity of a blogger who has been writing vicious things about ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 25
Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World

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Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World

by Jeff Gordinier

Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World

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Amidst the disintegration of his marriage, at the edge of the Caribbean and nearing exhaustion, Jeff Gordinier awoke with a mouthful of sand. This is the unlikely first taste in Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World.

Gordinier was on that beach at the behest of René Redzepi--perhaps the best chef in the world. Hungry chronicles what follows, as Gordinier spends the next four years orbiting Redzepi's world-class inner circle in this biographical ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 25
Death in a Desert Land

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Death in a Desert Land

by Andrew Wilson

Death in a Desert Land

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On the heels of her divorce, Agatha Christie is in need of a change. An old British Intelligence Officer friend asks for her help in determining whether the death of Gertrude Bell, famed archeologist and explorer, was a suicide, an accident or murder, sending Christie off to Iran and an archeological excavation that could be under a terrible curse. Going undercover, infiltrating the motley crew at the dig site while keeping her real reason for being there a secret, Christie attempts to make sense ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 25
Window on the Bay

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Window on the Bay

by Debbie Macomber

Window on the Bay

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Two Seattle friends--divorcées--are faced with empty nest syndrome in Debbie Macomber's Window on the Bay.

Jenna and Maureen met as college freshman while taking a French class and became best friends. They vowed that after graduation, they would take a trip to Paris where they would "walk in the moonlight along the Seine, tour the Louvre, and see the view of the city from the Eiffel Tower." Maureen's unplanned pregnancy, however, forced the friends to defer their plans to "someday."

Over ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 25
Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination

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Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination

by Alexandra Minna Stern

Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination

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Alexandra Minna Stern (Eugenic Nation) meets the rising wave of white nationalism head-on in her important and timely work, Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination.

Stern, American Culture and History professor at the University of Michigan, dispenses with any pretense of neutrality in her reportage, instead referring to herself as a "scholar-activist." She sets out to understand the intellectual underpinnings of the so-called alt-right movement ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 25
On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane

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On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane

by Emily Guendelsberger

On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane

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On the Clock is a study of modern service work as told through the author's experience working in an Amazon fulfillment center, a Convergys call center and a busy McDonald's. In a voice that is as down-to-earth as it is scholarly, journalist Emily Guendelsberger combines her experience at these service jobs with citations from primary and secondary sources to form a narrative that is both educational and entertaining.

Guendelsberger explores the science and consequences of repetitive physical and ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 25
The Nickel Boys

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The Nickel Boys

by Colson Whitehead

The Nickel Boys

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The Nickel Boys forgoes the fantastical touches of Colson Whitehead's previous book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad, for a no-less-harrowing account of a vicious reform school in the Jim Crow-era South.

Whitehead's protagonist is Elwood Curtis, a black boy living in Tallahassee, Fla., in the early 1960s. Elwood is something of an idealist, listening repeatedly to a recording of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches and taking to heart his moral vision. Elwood clings ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 25
The Singing Rock & Other Brand-New Fairy Tales

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The Singing Rock & Other Brand-New Fairy Tales

by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, illus. by Simini Blocker

The Singing Rock & Other Brand-New Fairy Tales

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In his first graphic novel for children, writer Nathaniel Lachenmeyer (Octopus Escapes) offers four original, offbeat fairy tales, whimsically illustrated by artist Simini Blocker (My So-Called Superpowers).

In "Hip Hop Wish," a riff on The Arabian Nights, a carefree frog accidentally hops onto a magic lamp. The fiery orange-and-yellow genie who emerges finds granting wishes difficult since his amphibious summoner has none. A traveling minstrel with far more motivation than talent bedevils a grumpy ... [ Read More » ]

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Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love

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Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love

by Elsie Chapman, Caroline Tung Richmond, editors

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love

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In Elsie Chapman (A Thousand Beginnings and Endings) and Caroline T. Richmond's (The Darkest Hour) Hungry Hearts, 13 stories of how people show "love through food" unfold and intertwine in the neighborhood of Hungry Heart Row. Featuring tales told from diverse points of view that discuss loss, love, family and how food can bring people of all cultures together, this collection of connected short stories combines a number of different genres--fantasy, crime, mystery, magical realism, romance--to create ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 25
Hot Comb

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Hot Comb

by Ebony Flowers

Hot Comb

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In chunky lines and charmingly chaotic frames, debut author Ebony Flowers uses the comic format to explore the vital and myriad ways that the experience of young black women is tied to their relationship with their hair. Across the eight short stories that make up Hot Comb, Flowers illustrates the profusion of cultural forces young black girls must contend with: peer pressure, white beauty standards, well-meaning strangers, not-so-well-meaning strangers and, perhaps most interestingly, advertisements. ... [ Read More » ]

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Growing Things and Other Stories

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Growing Things and Other Stories

by Paul Tremblay

Growing Things and Other Stories

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Of the recent horror writers to have made their mark, Paul Tremblay belongs the most to a tradition of psychological terror. Stories in Growing Things such as "Something About Birds" and "Notes from 'The Barn in the Wild' " have themes of cosmic horror, but his best work derives its power from the ordinary and domestic gone mysteriously wrong. Two other stories connect directly to Tremblay's earlier novel A Head Full of Ghosts, a wrenching tragedy that left what happened to the central character ... [ Read More » ]

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Everything Below the Waist: Why Health Care Needs a Feminist Revolution

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Everything Below the Waist: Why Health Care Needs a Feminist Revolution

by Jennifer Block

Everything Below the Waist: Why Health Care Needs a Feminist Revolution

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In her well-received first book, Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, feminist journalist Jennifer Block exposed the concerning aspects of maternity care in the United States. With Everything Below the Waist, she sounds an alarm about the condition of women's health care in America, where women run greater risks of reproductive system surgery than in any other developed nation. Partly supported by a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant, Block's chilling exposé ... [ Read More » ]

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Escalante's Dream: On the Trail of the Spanish Discovery of the Southwest

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Escalante's Dream: On the Trail of the Spanish Discovery of the Southwest

by David Roberts

Escalante's Dream: On the Trail of the Spanish Discovery of the Southwest

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In Escalante's Dream: On the Trail of the Spanish Discovery of the Southwest, adventure writer David Roberts (Limits of the Known) takes the reader on a journey that is part road trip, part historical exploration and part love story.

In 1776, two Franciscan friars, Francisco Atansio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, led an expedition across the Southwest in search of a land route from Santa Fe to the new mission at Monterey. In 2017, Roberts and his wife, Sharon, re-created ... [ Read More » ]

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Deep River

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Deep River

by Karl Marlantes

Deep River

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In this sweeping saga set against early-1900s Finland, occupied and oppressed by Tsarist Russia, and the untamed old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn, What It Is Like to Go to War) tells the story of the Koski siblings as they leave their homeland for a raw, new place on the other side of the world.

Fleeing political persecution, 17-year-old Aino joins her brothers on Deep River, just north of the mighty Columbia. What greets her is an unimaginable world of 300-foot ... [ Read More » ]

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