Posted December 30, 2017 9:00 p.m. EST
A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:
THE PERFECT NANNY, by Leila Slimani. Translated by Sam Taylor. (Penguin, $16.) A bourgeois Parisian family and its caretaker depend on one another in insidious ways, with a tragic, and violent, outcome. This domestic thriller touches on racial and economic tensions, women’s ambitions and souring family dynamics. Slimani won the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, for the novel in 2016.
SOUTH AND WEST: From a Notebook, by Joan Didion. (Vintage, $15.) Didion’s observations from a road trip with her husband through the South — including Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — were for an assignment (never finished) that her editors called “The Mind of the White South.” In this slim volume, composed of writings from the 1970s, she contrasted California’s resolute gaze to the future with the South’s fixation on the past.
THE DRY, by Jane Harper. (Flatiron, $15.99) In this debut novel, Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns home to Australia’s parched farmlands for the first time in years. The circumstances are grisly — Falk’s best friend shot his wife and child before killing himself — and the surroundings are desperate; Falk’s visit takes on a new urgency as he investigates his friend’s death while guarding a childhood secret.
YOURS IN TRUTH: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee, Legendary Editor of The Washington Post, by Jeff Himmelman. (Random House, $18.) As the editor at the helm of The Post during a transformative era, a friend to the Kennedy family and a linchpin of Washington social circles, Bradlee attained a near-mythological status. Himmelman, who was Bob Woodward’s assistant and later a friend of Bradlee’s, investigates his life, including a look at the editor’s relationship with Post publisher Katharine Graham.
THE HEARTS OF MEN, by Nickolas Butler. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $16.99) Starting at a Wisconsin Boy Scout camp in 1962, an unlikely and fraught friendship unfolds over six decades. The story — which Times reviewer Darin Strauss called a “gut-punch of a novel” — is propelled along by moral choice and consequence, and holds up “the Scouts, or rather the few who live up to the Scout’s code, as paragons of what we’ve lost.”
LETTERS TO A YOUNG MUSLIM, by Omar Saif Ghobash. (Picador, $16.) The author, the Emirati ambassador to France, addresses his sons, urging them toward a worldview that synthesizes faith and logic. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar put it in The Times: Ghobash “encourages the reader to accept a modern, enlightened path that embraces diversity, not just within Islam but among all religions.”