10 New Books We Recommend This Week

0


WEATHER, by Jenny Offill. (Knopf, $23.95.) Like “Dept. of Speculation,” Offill’s widely praised last novel, “Weather” unfolds in fragments: witty distillations of absurdity, mundanity, empathy and despair. Here, a young Ph.D. dropout negotiates the daily trials of motherhood and marriage against the overwhelming knowledge of planetary crisis. “Offill’s writing is shrewd on the question of whether intense psychic suffering heightens your awareness of the pain of others, or makes you blind to it. The answer, of course, is that it can do both,” Leslie Jamison writes in her review. “Offill’s fragmentary structure evokes an unbearable emotional intensity: something at the core of the story that cannot be narrated directly, by straight chronology, because to do so would be like looking at the sun.”

RUN ME TO EARTH, by Paul Yoon. (Simon & Schuster, $26.) Yoon’s luminous new novel, a meditation on the devastating nature of war and displacement, begins under a hail of American firepower in war-torn 1960s Laos and follows a trio of children through their postwar lives abroad, tracing the ongoing effects of their trauma. Our reviewer, Tash Aw, calls it a “richly layered novel” in which “simple explanations give way to deep nuance, and the single, obvious threat of American bombs is replaced by a more complex set of dangers that imperil the three friends’ safety: the unreliability of allies, the specter of betrayal and, above all, a past that continues to entangle them, confusing their sense of the future.”

THE CACTUS LEAGUE, by Emily Nemens. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Nemens’s debut novel offers a panoramic view of Phoenix during spring training — encompassing the game of baseball, its infrastructure and various lives touched by the sport. The focus is on the unraveling of a star outfielder, but the broader view offers a microcosm of life today. “Nemens’s real subject here is less the game of baseball itself, though she’s quite good at describing it, than its infrastructure, all the lives that professional baseball embraces,” Charles McGrath writes in his review. “She provides her readers with what amounts to a miniature, self-enclosed world that is funny and poignant and lovingly observed.”

MENGELE: Unmasking the “Angel of Death,” by David G. Marwell. (Norton, $30.) What distinguishes this latest account of the man who was the embodiment of Auschwitz is the fact that the author was personally involved in the search for Mengele and can offer a detailed report on how this unrepentant Nazi escaped punishment. “Astonishingly, Mengele was in American captivity in 1945 and the Israelis found him in 1960; for different reasons both ventures were simply dropped,” our reviewer, Steven Aschheim, writes. “Marwell comprehensively recounts this case of justice denied, and how — helped by his wealthy family, loyal friends and Nazi sympathizers — Mengele succeeded in evading his would-be captors.”

FIGHT OF THE CENTURY: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases, edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. (Avid Reader, $27.) An all-star list of authors, including Marlon James, Victor LaValle and Jesmyn Ward, revisits key lawsuits in which the A.C.L.U. has been involved. The resulting anthology, animated by stylish prose, brings these cases to life. “It’s enlightening to watch some of our most masterly literary portraitists restore the warts and wardrobes, the motivations and machinations to those whose stories have been stripped down to surnames or pseudonyms,” Monica Youn writes in her review. “These accounts illuminate how lawyers, as well as authors, must be skillful narrative crafters, pruning and stretching the unruly features of real life to fit the law’s Procrustean parameters.”



The article was originally published by Newyorktimes

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/books/review/10-new-books-we-recommend-this-week.html

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.