10 New Books We Recommend This Week

Aamina Ahmad’s debut novel, “The Return of Faraz Ali,” has a murder case at its heart. Sara Novic’s novel, “True Biz,” is set in a school for the deaf and tells the story of a missing student. Jane Pek’s first book, “The Verifiers,” is an unusual detective story. The crime columnist for the Book Review, Sarah Weinman, wrote “Scoundrel,” which is about a convicted killer who was freed from prison in the 1960s after becoming a big deal on the right. She tells the true story of the man.

Jeremy W. Peters, the New York Times reporter, has written a book about the Republican Party’s recent history. Monica Guzmán, a journalist for the Times, has written a book about how to get along with people on the other side of the aisle. In fiction, we like Jennifer Egan’s “The Candy House,” which is a kind of sequel to “A Visit from the Goon Squad.” We also like Eloghosa Osunde’s “Vagabonds!” and Joseph Roth’s “Rebellion,” which is a reissue of a 1924 book. Happy reading, everyone.

I read THE CANDY HOUSE by Jennifer Egan, and it was good. (Scribner, $28.) A Visit from the Goon Squad, Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2010 novel, is the sequel to that book. It tells more than a dozen stories that are all connected and hard to sum up in a single sentence. New York’s East Village and magazine journalism are two topics. It also talks about Gen-X nostalgia and the digitalization of everything, as well as Gen-search X’s for ways to be real in the face of that digitalization, “Dwarf-star density,” says our critic Dwight Garner. It’s a short 334 pages, but it has a lot of “star density.” 15 or 20 other books that are inside are trying to get out as well. If you’ve ever read Tom Wolfe, you know that he has a great eye for cultural and social detail. This is “minimalism with a twist.” It looks like Egan put a big 19th-century three-decker novel on a flash drive.

Natalie Hodges wrote a book called UNCOMMON MEASURE: A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time. At $17.99, the Bellevue Literary Press has this book. Hodges, a long-time violinist, talks about giving up on becoming a professional soloist in this memoir, which was written by him. She looks back on the years of her childhood that she spent studying music over and over again. In our review, Alexandra Jacobs says this is “a truly unique and genre-defying work.” “It can make you feel like you’re sitting in a lecture or concert hall and someone else’s emotions and knowledge are washing over you. This isn’t a bad thing.”

REBELLION, a book by Joseph Roth. In this case, it was done by Michael Hofmann and translated. Everything in the Everyman’s Library costs $24. It happened to Andreas Pum, the main character of Roth’s recently reissued 1924 novel. He lost a leg during World War I. Because he doesn’t really care, He believes in a fair God, one who gave shrapnel, amputations, and medals to people who were good enough. The short book shows how he lost faith in that God and the government he used to believe in. Reviewer John Williams says that Andreas could have been made into a cartoon by someone who wasn’t as clever and wise as Roth. “Instead, he is both sympathetic and funny, and his last rant against God is one for the ages.”

The book that Aamina Ahmad wrote is called THE RETURN OF FARAZ ALI. Riverhead costs $27. In this debut novel, a middle-ranking police officer in Lahore, Pakistan, is sent to cover up the murder of a girl in the red-light district where he was born. The author did a great job of keeping the story quiet. There is a violent clash between their scheming and their resigned, as well as the depths of what they want, that makes the characters seem real. It doesn’t matter how “monstrous or selfish or defeated” her characters become, “Ahmad’s compassion and deep care for the psychological and emotional nuances of her characters never falters,” Omar El Akkad writes in his review of the book. People are still fully human, no matter how big their wounds are or how strong the people who hurt them are. “It goes through generations and changes in places, all the way to a devastating last chapter,” says the author.

SPELLBOUND BY MARCEL: Duchamp, Love, and Artby Ruth Brandon, is a book about these things. ($27.95 for Pegasus) It is full of juicy details about Marcel Duchamp’s love triangle with Beatrice Wood and Henri-Pierre Roché, the author of “Jules and Jim.” Brandon’s book is a detailed picture of its time, and it takes the reader into the heart of the avant-garde, where art was changed forever and society was shocked. If Brandon’s account of Wood is what makes this book so great, Lauren Elkin writes in her review: “She comes across with novelistic flair, a young woman who is still figuring out who she is and how to make art.”

By Sara Novic. ($27.) Random House has a lot of different books. Second novel: “TRUE BIZ” is a phrase used in the American Sign Language (A.S.L.) that means “seriously.” Novic’s book takes readers inside the classrooms and families of a group of students and teachers at a school for the deaf, where a 15-year-old girl with a faulty cochlear implant and an unstable home life has gone missing. Book: Maile Meloy says the book is “fast-paced and spirited, but also very well-written and well-thought-out” Storytelling is better at making people feel and think than facts are, and this important book should change people’s minds and change the way people talk about things.

By Silvia Ferrara, THE GREATEST INVENTION: A History of the World in Nine Mysterious Scripts is about how the world came to be. Tod Portnowitz did the translation of the text. There is a $29. fee for the book. As she was having dinner with friends, Ferrara wrote this book in the same way she talks to them. Instead of telling a chronological history of writing, she moves freely from script to script, island to island, and gives a dizzying but very interesting story about how written language came to be. “She is always by our side, asking us questions, giving us ideas, and reporting on new and exciting things,” Martin Puchner writes in his review. People who work with Ferrara have come up with some of her most important ideas, like the idea that writing changes the brains of people who learn to write.

THE VERIFIERS, by Jane Pek. It was written by Jane Pek. It costs $17 for vintage paper, and it’s worth it. Pek’s first book, which is very interesting, is a modern twist on classic detective fiction. To expose online dating fraud at a shady company, the unlikely detective Claudia Lin goes to work. Instead, she comes across a murder mystery and must solve it. A bigger one is coming. “Am I giving up control over my life to an algorithm that knows me better than I know myself?” During his review, David Gordon asks about this subject. “Are we giving up our freedom of choice, though, and even desire in exchange for convenience and fantasy?” Are we becoming less and less able to tell, or even care, what’s real?

VAGABONDS! is a book by Eloghosa Osunde. Riverhead costs $28. A novel-in-stories set in Lagos, Nigeria, where there are 21 million people and everyone is watching and being watched. The book focuses on people who live in the “cracks,” people who feel like outsiders in a society where same-sex romance is illegal and often punished with violence. Chelsea Leu, one of our reviewers, says that some of the most memorable characters show up again and again in different stories. A city-wide coming-out party that is both apocalyptic and bewildering, but also joyful, comes at the end of the two things.

Scoundrel: How a Convicted Murderer Got Women Who Loved Him, The Conservative Party, and the Courts To Let Him Go. This book was written by Sarah Weinman. When I went to Ecco, it was only $28.99. The crime columnist for the Book Review does a lot of research to tell the true story of a murderer who was freed from prison thanks to a right-wing support network led by William F. Buckley, only to attack another woman. The review by Katherine Dykstra says that “instead of wondering what will happen, the reader is asked to think about the more important question: how did it happen?” “Weinman painstakingly and chronologically retells the judicial hearings, literary lunches, letter exchanges, prison visits, stays of execution, and romances (there were many!) that led from incarceration to exoneration and back again,” says the author of the book.


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