A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:Posted — Updated
A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:
BLACK DETROIT: A People’s History of Self-Determination, by Herb Boyd. (Amistad/HarperCollins, $16.99.) Boyd weaves the lives of standout African-American figures into this history of the city, tracing its evolution from a French trading post to a symbol of decline. From the country’s first black auto dealer to Michigan’s first black obstetrician, characters who might have otherwise remained on history’s sidelines are the heart of Boyd’s history.
GOODBYE, VITAMIN, by Rachel Khong. (Picador, $16.) In the wake of a breakup, Ruth — 30, adrift and heartbroken — returns home to care for her father, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The novel takes the form of Ruth’s diary over that year, resulting in a poignant and even darkly comic exploration of adulthood, relationships and memory.
THE WRITTEN WORLD: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, and Civilization, by Martin Puchner. (Random House, $20.) Puchner, an English professor at Harvard, makes the case for literature’s all-importance to societies and the shape of humanity’s history. His research has taken him to every continent, in the search for sacred and foundational texts, and spans centuries, from Mesopotamia to Cervantes to Harry Potter.
SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, by Sarah Schmidt. (Grove, $16.) Schmidt revisits the unsolved Fall River murders at the center of Lizzie Borden’s life: In Massachusetts in 1892, Lizzie’s father and stepmother were hacked to death. Schmidt imagines the lead-up to the grisly crime, and Lizzie’s possible madness. Times reviewer Patrick McGrath called the novel “a lurid and original work of horror,” which evokes “the disintegrating character of this sweltering, unhygienic and claustrophobic household of locked doors and repressed emotions.”
HUNGER: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay. (Harper Perennial, $16.99.) Reflecting on her life through the lens of her body, Gay engages with questions about desire, nourishment and protection. As Carina Chocano wrote in The Times, the memoir reads like Gay’s “victorious, if not frictionless, journey back to herself, back into her body, from the splitting off of trauma. Is the responsibility for her body really hers alone?”
THE MISFORTUNE OF MARION PALM, by Emily Culliton. (Vintage, $15.95.) In this debut novel, a Brooklyn mother has embezzled a modest amount from her children’s private school. When it faces an audit, she leaves her family behind and goes on the lam. As she tries to carve out a new place in the world, Marion turns out to be a delightful antiheroine and defies expectation at every turn.
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