This Week's Best New Books

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The Unspoken Name

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The Unspoken Name

by A.K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name

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The Unspoken Name, the debut novel from A.K. Larkwood, is a satisfying epic fantasy with several interesting wrinkles. Csorwe is an orc priestess who spends her life preparing to be sacrificed to a god known as the "Unspoken One." She decides to abandon her fate to serve a mysterious wizard who arrives and offers her another path. Much of Csorwe's story is about the weight of obligation and debts that can never be paid--the wizard Belthandros Sethennai helps convince her to abandon one form of servitude ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 25
The Regrets

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The Regrets

by Amy Bonnaffons

The Regrets

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In this poignant story, Rachel is in love with a dead man. He was dead when they met. Maybe it's the strange glow that Thomas seems to have about him, or the otherworldly heat of his skin, but Rachel believes him when he shares some of his story. Due to an error when he died, Thomas must wait another three months on Earth before crossing over, following instructions meant to avoid incurring any additional regrets. Starting relationships in this condition is not recommended, but after several weeks ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 25
Real Life

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Real Life

by Brandon Taylor

Real Life

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Real Life, the debut novel by Electric Literature's Recommended Reading senior editor Brandon Taylor, has all the notes of a classic "campus novel." It's got academic in-fighting; it's got complex hierarchies--and an associated web of alliances and betrayals--that link friends, lovers and rivals. And, most importantly to qualify for the genre, it's got a vaguely threatening undercurrent roiling beneath a placid collegiate surface. But Real Life tells a story that the others don't, ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 25
A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home

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A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home

by Nicole Chung, Mensah Demary, editors

A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home

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The title originates in poet Jamila Osman's essay, "A Map of Lost Things": "A map is only one story," writes the Canadian-born daughter of Somali immigrants who now lives in Portland, Ore. "It is not the most important story. The most important story is the one a people tell about themselves." Osman is one of 20 writers--some already award-winning, others just beginning their careers--whose intimate essays share distinctive, diasporic stories traversing borders and cultures. Curated by Catapult ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 25
Little Constructions

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Little Constructions

by Anna Burns

Little Constructions

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Little Constructions by Man Booker Prize-winner Anna Burns tells the frenetic story of a family on the brink of annihilation. Jetty Doe enters a gun shop one day, blindly determined to buy a weapon with which to seek revenge. From there, an enigmatic, first-person narrator takes readers on speeding taxi rides, through abuse-strewn homes, and across generations as the Doe family sows a legacy of violence, betrayal and hatred. The female members of the Doe clan rage and combust around their brutal ... [ Read More » ]

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The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid

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The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid

by Kate Hattemer

The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid

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Driving Kate Hattemer's The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid is one of the best kinds of righteous indignation: the kind served with gallons of humor.

It's April of narrator Jemima Kincaid's senior year of high school, and as one-third of the Chawton School's Senior Triumvirate, she's partly responsible for organizing the prom. Not a fan of the sexist tradition of guys asking girls, Jemima comes up with the idea of the Last Chance Dance: using a match-making website set up for the purpose, students ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 25
Village of Scoundrels

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Village of Scoundrels

by Margi Preus

Village of Scoundrels

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Based on events that took place in several southeastern French villages during World War II, this breathtaking novel follows a group of teens as they carry out covert operations to shelter and transport Jews who would otherwise be deported to internment camps.

Drawing on their individual strengths and skills, 16- and 17-year-old Gentiles and Jews join an extensive secret network of sympathizers working against the Nazis and the collaborationist Vichy regime. Philippe, a passionate, youthful-looking ... [ Read More » ]

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Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot

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Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot

by Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot

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In Hood Feminism, Mikki Kendall persuasively argues that, given the ways in which race and class, disability and sexual orientation are interwoven with gender, feminists must reckon with oppression within their ranks and focus on the needs of the many, rather than a privileged few: "Instead of a framework that focuses on helping women get basic needs met, all too often the focus is not on survival but on increasing privilege. For a movement that is meant to represent all women, it often centers on ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 25
The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird

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The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird

by Joshua Hammer

The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird

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In this enthralling true story, a man enters the shower at the Emirates Lounge at Britain's Birmingham International Airport with several bags and stays for 20 minutes. After he leaves, a suspicious janitor discovers the shower is dry, virtually untouched save for a discarded egg carton holding a single egg. Unsure of what to make of this, police are called and interview the man. He's ordered to strip, and they discover 14 eggs wrapped in socks and tied around his abdomen.

The man, Jeffrey Lendrum, ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 25
Big Black: Stand at Attica

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Big Black: Stand at Attica

by Frank "Big Black" Smith, Jared Reinmuth, illus. by Améziane

Big Black: Stand at Attica

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Big Black: Stand at Attica is an unflinching graphic memoir from Frank "Big Black" Smith, providing a firsthand account of the 1971 Attica State Prison uprising in New York. Big Black's nickname derives from his impressive physical stature, which, along with the respect he earned as the prison's football coach, inspired his position in charge of security among the rebelling prisoners. Big Black is clear about what the prisoners wanted--broadly speaking, improvements to the dehumanizing living conditions--but ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 25
Apeirogon

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Apeirogon

by Colum McCann

Apeirogon

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In a 2010 e-mail conversation in The Believer with Bosnian writer Aleksandar Hemon, Colum McCann observed, "I happen to think that an ounce of empathy is worth a boatload of judgment." That's the principle animating his magnificent novel Apeirogon, an unforgettable encounter with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from both sides of the chasm separating the antagonists, that's audacious in both substance and form.

McCann (Thirteen Ways of Looking; Let the Great World Spin) anchors Apeirogon ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 25
Amnesty

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Amnesty

by Aravind Adiga

Amnesty

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"A man without rights in this world is not freed from his responsibilities." So thinks Danny, an undocumented worker in Sydney, Australia, upon realizing that he has information about a murder that by all rights should be reported to the police. Amnesty by Aravind Adiga (Last Man in TowerThe White Tiger) follows Danny, a Sri Lankan national, over the course of a day as he bargains with himself and conducts imaginary negotiations for asylum in exchange for helping the police with ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 25
Second Sister

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Second Sister

by Chan Ho-Kei, trans. by Jeremy Tiang

Second Sister

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Yes, it's almost two inches thick and more than 400 pages, but Chan Ho-Kei's second thriller available in the U.S., Second Sister, is virtually irresistible, with twisty-turny manipulations guaranteed to keep readers wide awake into the wee hours.

Nga-Yee and Siu-Man are sisters who have only each other left in the world: their father died in a construction work-related accident when Nga-Yee was almost 13 and Siu-Man was four; their mother succumbed to cancer a decade later, leaving Nga-Yee ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 25
A Woman Like Her: The Story Behind the Honor Killing of a Social Media Star

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A Woman Like Her: The Story Behind the Honor Killing of a Social Media Star

by Sanam Maher

A Woman Like Her: The Story Behind the Honor Killing of a Social Media Star

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A Woman Like Her by Sanam Maher is a remarkable feat of investigative journalism that illuminates the controversial life and shocking death of a young Pakistani woman known as Qandeel Baloch.

Baloch loved to sing and dance. A natural performer, she sought social media stardom as a way to escape the restrictions imposed on women in her Southern Punjab community. Through her Facebook posts, she flaunted her idealized self: a sultry, free-spirited beauty willing to shock audiences with sexually explicit ... [ Read More » ]

15 of 25
White Feathers: The Nesting Lives of Tree Swallows

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White Feathers: The Nesting Lives of Tree Swallows

by Bernd Heinrich

White Feathers: The Nesting Lives of Tree Swallows

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Bernd Heinrich (Mind of the RavenLife Everlasting) is a celebrated naturalist and birdwatcher. In White Feathers: The Nesting Lives of Tree Swallows, he turns his attention to a little-understood feature of a much-studied species. Tree swallows are considered a "model" bird for research, but Heinrich finds nothing in the literature to explain the phenomenon that intrigues him: Why does the pair nesting outside his door line its nest with white feathers--the hardest kind to find in the ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 25
Nobody Does It Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond

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Nobody Does It Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond

by Mark A. Altman, Edward Gross

Nobody Does It Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond

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Fans of Ian Fleming's 007 novels and the James Bond movie franchise could not ask for a more exhaustive or sublimely entertaining book on their favorite spy than Nobody Does It Better. This massive oral history runs more than 700 pages and there's not a dull page among them. Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross (The Fifty-Year Mission) have done an outstanding job of collecting and organizing firsthand memories from more than 150 cast and crew members, as well as critics, of the wildly successful film ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 25
Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour

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Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour

by Ross Mathews

Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour

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Comedian Ross Mathews (Man Up!) loves celebrities and, as a red-carpet reporter for nearly two decades, he's interviewed a lot of them. He compiles his favorite encounters in Name Drop. As he notes in the subtitle, these are tales he usually tells friends only at happy hour after being plied with cheap two-for-one cocktails and appetizers. So he helpfully begins each chapter with a witty, related recipe (or "Rossipe") for a cocktail and appetizer. His cocktail recipe for "Barbara Walters Old Fashioned ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 25
Molly Bit

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Molly Bit

by Dan Bevacqua

Molly Bit

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Dan Bevacqua's Molly Bit is the stunning portrait of a young artist who has "it," and the price she pays to triumph and the personal sacrifices of her success. Everyone at her college wants to be famous, including Molly Bit. At 19, she sees signs from the universe that she's one of the chosen and makes a promise to herself to "chop off the old, dead parts and come out new, to burn them off, if need be, like she was a house fire."

Told through third-person narrative installments that leapfrog through ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 25
With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

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With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

by Margarita Engle

With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

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Former Young People's Poet Laureate Margarita Engle (Dreams from Many Rivers) writes a compelling first-person historical novel in free verse that presents Rubén Darío (1867-1916), "the Father of modernismo," to young readers.

In With a Star in My Hand, Engle sticks closely to the facts of the poet's life, concentrating on his childhood and adolescence in Nicaragua. She writes of his abandonment by his parents and his upbringing by other relatives, including his great-uncle, a wonderful ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 25
The Paper Kingdom

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The Paper Kingdom

by Helena Ku Rhee, illus. by Pascal Campion

The Paper Kingdom

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Inspired by her own upbringing, Helena Ku Rhee (The Turtle Ship) crafts a layered, loving picture book tribute to family and the sacrifices that parents make for their children's future. In The Paper Kingdom, Daniel's mother and father work overnight in a big glass building downtown; when the babysitter cancels, Daniel has to go with them. The tired boy witnesses how they are the only ones cleaning the large office filled with paper, and complains about the injustice of it all. In order to divert ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 25
Of Curses and Kisses

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Of Curses and Kisses

by Sandhya Menon

Of Curses and Kisses

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In this dreamy, sassy confection of a romance, Sandhya Menon (From Twinkle, with Love) sweeps readers into a modern-day fairy tale set among blue bloods in an exclusive boarding school.

Indian Princess Jaya Rao of the Imperial House of Mysuru enrolls for her senior year at St. Rosetta's International Academy in Colorado with a plan: win classmate and English noble Grey Emerson's heart, then shatter it. Not only do their families have a longstanding feud over a stolen ruby, Jaya is furious that Grey ... [ Read More » ]

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Heart of Maleness: An Exploration

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Heart of Maleness: An Exploration

by Raphaël Liogier, trans. by Antony Shugaar

Heart of Maleness: An Exploration

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Are there two words in an author's biography more intimidating to a reader than "French philosopher"? While philosopher Raphaël Liogier, a professor at Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence, does make reference to the likes of Aristotle and Plato in Heart of Maleness, his first title to be translated into English, the book is something pleasantly unexpected: eminently readable.

Liogier was inspired to write his long-form essay by his awareness of men's (including his own) difficulty "accepting the collapse ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 25
The Coldest Warrior

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The Coldest Warrior

by Paul Vidich

The Coldest Warrior

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Paul Vidich's The Coldest Warrior begins with a murder. It's 1953, and Dr. Charles Wilson, who had been hired by the government to complete top-secret work, has been killed, pushed out a ninth-floor window. Though the incident has been ruled a suicide, CIA agent Jack Gabriel is ordered by his director to investigate. Gabriel was on the brink of retirement, but he's determined to solve the case--Wilson was an old friend of his. But as Gabriel falls deeper into the suspicious circumstances of the case, ... [ Read More » ]

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The Aosawa Murders

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The Aosawa Murders

by Riku Onda, trans. by Alison Watts

The Aosawa Murders

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What should have been a serendipitous event--a lavish birthday celebration for three generations in 1973--turns horrific, leaving 17 family and friends dead. Decades after the tragedy, The Aosawa Murders might be a closed case, but Japanese novelist Riku Onda has plenty more scintillating details to reveal. Onda's English debut is seamlessly translated by Alison Watts.

The Aosawas are a prominent family--professionally respected for running the town's medical clinic and personally admired ... [ Read More » ]

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The Janes

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The Janes

by Louisa Luna

The Janes

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Private investigator Alice Vega returns (after Two Girls Down) in Louisa Luna's gritty The Janes, in which she's hired to find the killer of two underage girls whose bodies were dumped. The trail leads Vega and her partner, Max "Cap" Caplan, to San Diego, Calif., where they discover the girls had been sex trafficked from Mexico, and more minors are likely being held as sex slaves where the dead girls came from.  

As Vega gets closer to unearthing the killer and sex trafficking ring, however, ... [ Read More » ]

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