Posted December 24, 2017 12:11 a.m. EST
A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:
TRANSIT, by Rachel Cusk. (Picador, $16.) The second volume of a planned trilogy, “Transit” follows Faye, a writer settling in London after her divorce. A series of what Times reviewer Monica Ali called “beautifully precise micro-fictions” form the grist of the novel, based on Faye’s interactions with others. “Cusk has torn up the rule book,” Ali wrote, “and in the process created a work of stunning beauty.”
CHAIN OF TITLE: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, by David Dayen. (New Press, $19.95.) A story of the Florida homeowners who helped expose the 2008 mortgage crisis, and their moral crusade to hold banks to account. Dayen “and his characters find the banks’ behavior not just indefensible but criminal,” Times reviewer Frank Partnoy wrote. “Prepare to be surprised, and angry.”
THE INHERITANCE, by Charles Finch. (Minotaur, $16.99.) In this installment of the Charles Lenox mystery series, Lenox discovers that a childhood friend, Gerald Leigh, has disappeared under sketchy circumstances. The case harks back to Lenox’s inspiration for detective work: the anonymous benefactor who helped Leigh after his father died. As Lenox investigates the case, he must determine the motives of the shadowy donor.
THE PEOPLE AND THE BOOKS: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature, by Adam Kirsch. (Norton, $17.95.) Books have been central to Jewish culture for centuries, Kirsch, a literary critic, writes, calling them “the binding force that sustained a civilization.” In this whirlwind tour, he showcases the diversity of Jewish experience and expression, drawing on texts from over 2,500 years. His selection includes books written in seven languages and ranges from religious texts to philosophical treatises, fables, history and fiction.
THUS BAD BEGINS, by Javier Marías. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa. (Vintage, $16.95.) In 1980 in Madrid, as Spain recovers from Franco’s reign, Juan begins working for an aging filmmaker, Eduardo Muriel. He asks Juan to investigate a friend accused of carrying out heinous crimes. Muriel’s toxic marriage, along with the betrayal and heartbreak that underpin it, is the novel’s true emotional center.
THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH, by Tom Wolfe. (Back Bay/Little, Brown, $15.99.) With his signature wit, Wolfe takes aim at evolution — or, as he sees it, “a messy guess — baggy, boggy, soggy and leaking all over the place.” Language, in his view, is not a logical byproduct of evolution but a tool that humans invented. The book also serves as a searing dismissal of academia and of the linguistics professor Noam Chomsky.