Posted April 1, 2018 4:14 p.m. EDT
A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:
SPACEMAN OF BOHEMIA, by Jaroslav Kalfar. (Back Bay/Little, Brown, $15.99.) A Czech astronaut is shot into space to investigate a mysterious cloud, and leaves behind a trove of earthly baggage. As Times reviewer Hari Kunzru put it: “But for all the strangeness of outer space, it is the writing about his home village, the place to which he longs to return and perhaps never can, that beats strongest in this wry, melancholy book.”
LOCKING UP OUR OWN: Crime and Punishment in Black America, by James Forman Jr. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.) Forman offers a masterly account of how black elected officials grappled with the drug crises and violence of the 1970s. The book, one of the Book Review’s 10 best of 2017, argues that prison reform requires a new understanding of justice, one that emphasizes accountability instead of vengeance.
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, by Elizabeth Strout. (Random House, $17.) Nine linked stories complement Strout’s earlier novel “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” and follow a cast of interconnected characters who negotiate their desires and pain, and move past traumas. Times reviewer Andrea Barrett praised the book, which she described as “thick with details and even more profound in its rendering of the ways we save, or fail to save, one another.”
THE GIVERS: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age, by David Callahan. (Vintage, $17.) A new crop of billionaires is quietly shaping society through their philanthropic ventures — including school choice, climate change and even marriage rights — with little oversight. Callahan knows the field, and can explain the preferences of tech billionaires versus Wall Street donors, for example. He sheds light on these donors’ goals, their choices and how they’re different from their forebears.
THE KINGDOM, by Emmanuel Carrère. Translated by John Lambert. (Picador, $17.) Carrère takes on the subject of early Christians in the religion’s founding days, imagining Paul and Luke after Christ’s death. Along the way, he weaves in reflections on his own faith: Driven by despair more than 20 years ago, he became a devout Christian, praying and undertaking a rigorous study of the Bible, until the fervor faded a few years later.
HOURGLASS: Time, Memory, Marriage, by Dani Shapiro. (Anchor, $15.) In this midlife appraisal, Shapiro explores the subtle transformations of her life, examining her hopes and exposing the fissures in her marriage, along with her belief that the relationship will prevail. Looking back on the origins of her relationship, Shapiro enters an eloquent dialogue with her earlier, younger selves.