Posted February 4, 2018 12:08 a.m. EST
A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:
THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE-CLASS CONSTITUTION: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic, by Ganesh Sitaraman. (Vintage, $17.) The Constitution was predicated on having a thriving middle class, and today’s widening inequality poses an existential threat. In this call to arms, Sitaraman excels in “helping understand how our forebears handled it and building a platform to think about it today,” Angus Deaton wrote in the Times.
LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, by George Saunders. (Random House, $17.) In 1862, Abraham Lincoln visits the grave of his young son Willie, where he encounters a chorus of ghosts in limbo. Their voices — of slaves and slavers, doomed soldiers, priests — narrate the country’s descent into war; as Lincoln mourns he becomes a steward of the nation’s tragedies. The novel won the 2017 Man Booker Prize.
BLEAKER HOUSE: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World, by Nell Stevens. (Anchor, $17.) As part of her MFA program, Stevens is awarded a fellowship to travel virtually anywhere; she chooses the remote Falkland Islands to complete a book. Her memoir traces the fits and starts of the writing process and shares some hard-won insight. “Surrounded by people, it is easy to feel alone,” she writes. “Surrounded by penguins, less so.”
A SEPARATION, by Katie Kitamura. (Riverhead, $16.) An unnamed, 30-ish British narrator tracks down her estranged husband, Christopher, in Greece after her mother-in-law intervenes; Christopher is traced to the southern Peloponnese, where he’s supposedly studying mourning rites — and where marital deception proliferates. Times reviewer Fernanda Eberstadt praised the novel’s “radical disbelief — a disbelief, it appears, even in the power of art — that makes Kitamura’s accomplished novel such a coolly unsettling work.”
THE VANQUISHED: Why the First World War Failed to End, by Robert Gerwarth. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.) In the years between 1918 and 1923, crumbling empires, economic depression (along with the lure of Communism) and flawed peace negotiations helped set the stage for another global conflict. Gerwarth’s fine history examines the legacy of World War I, with a focus on the “mobilizing power” of defeat.
THE HEIRS, by Susan Rieger. (Broadway, $16.) A cryptic final wish sets off a knotty family drama; as the Falkeses mourn their patriarch, Rupert, a woman emerges and claims he was the father of her two sons. The evidence is plausible enough, and his family struggles to interpret the news. “Rieger convinces us that knowing the truth — believe it or not — doesn’t necessarily settle everything,” Caroline Leavitt wrote in The Times.