10 New Books We Recommend This Week
The natural world and its intersections with human culture lie at the heart of a few books we recommend this week. In “Owls of the Eastern Ice,” the wildlife biologist Jonathan Slaght writes about his mission to document and preserve the world’s largest owls in the Russian Far East. In “Fathoms,” the Australian environmental writer Rebecca Giggs considers whales and their hold on the human imagination. And in “Soul Full of Coal Dust,” Chris Hamby looks at the vexing collision of geology and industry and politics, through the story of Appalachian coal miners and the terrible health problems they face.
We also recommend a welcome new selection of work from the influential writer Audre Lorde, who died in 1992, along with an exploration of the immigrant experience in Texas and a history of conflicts between American presidents and the press. In fiction, there are new books from Emma Cline, Peter Lovesey, Sue Miller and Walter Mosley.
Senior Editor, Books
THE SELECTED WORKS OF AUDRE LORDE, edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay. (Norton, $16.95.) Lorde, who died in 1992 at 58, was a poet, essayist, genre-defining memoirist and activist. This book brings together a vast selection of her poetry, 12 pieces of prose, mostly essays, and a long excerpt from her memoir “The Cancer Journals.” “Any opportunity to contemplate Lorde would be a cause for celebration,” our critic Parul Sehgal writes, but this collection “arrives at an especially interesting moment. Lorde’s writing has rarely been more influential — or more misunderstood.”
MONOGAMY, by Sue Miller. (Harper/HarperCollins, $28.99.) A gregarious bookstore owner dies suddenly, leaving his widow, children and ex-wife to make sense of the messy and colorful life they shared together. Sue Miller’s engrossing novel is infused with generosity and the complicated kind of love readers will recognize from real life: “an old-fashioned, slow burn of a novel that allows readers to dream deeply,” Richard Russo writes in his review.
THE FINISHER, by Peter Lovesey. (Soho Crime, $27.95.) In a peerlessly plotted mystery, Lovesey brings back his prickly, rule-abhoring detective, Peter Diamond of the Bath police, who’s investigating a murder at a half-marathon. As readers who love the Diamond series know, the picture-perfect old British city, honeycombed with sluices, drains and sewers, offers unrivaled facilities for disposing of bodies. “The light and dark imagery is a fixture of Lovesey’s Bath novels,” Marilyn Stasio writes in her crime column, “in which life is lived on many levels, some in full sunshine and others buried in shadow.”
DADDY: Stories, by Emma Cline. (Random House, $27.) The 10 stories that constitute this debut collection (by the author of the novel “The Girls”) have the clean, bright lines of modernist architecture; with an earnestness punctuated by millennial cool, Cline proves herself an astute observer of the social rhythms of the upper middle class. “There’s a riffing playfulness to her prose as it turns back on itself to interrupt, comment or elaborate,” Brandon Taylor writes in his review. “This self-aware tone appears here or there in the collection, cluing us in that the author, or at least the narrating intelligence, knows something these characters do not, covering the stories in a patina of wisdom or insight.”
SOUL FULL OF COAL DUST: A Fight for Breath and Justice in Appalachia, by Chris Hamby. (Little, Brown, $30.) Hamby powerfully recounts two stories, both miserable: the effect that working in coal mines has had on the health of miners, and the decades-long battle for federal help to force companies to pay for their medical care. “In the mountain towns of Appalachia, as elsewhere, ordinary people battle corporate power reluctantly,” Héctor Tobar writes in his review. “Hamby, a journalist at The Times, employs dogged investigative work and a deep well of empathy for his subjects to painstakingly bring this private pathos to life.”
THE PRESIDENTS VS. THE PRESS: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media — From the Founding Fathers to Fake News, by Harold Holzer. (Dutton, $30.) As Holzer shows in this revealing historical survey, Donald Trump’s hostile relationship to journalists is part and parcel of a long tradition of conflict between presidents and the press corps. “For all of Trump’s transgressions against the press — and they are many — Holzer’s book offers evidence that he’s not the greatest enemy of the First Amendment to have occupied the White House,” Jack Shafer writes in his review. “He might not even rank in the top five.”
OWLS OF THE EASTERN ICE: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl, by Jonathan C. Slaght. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) Slaght is a wildlife biologist with a singular mission, to conserve an elusive and enormous raptor in the eastern wilds of Russia. The book is an ode to the rigors and pleasures of fieldwork in hard conditions. “We discover what it feels like to become aware of every little thing, to fully inhabit a living landscape,” Tucker Malarkey writes in her review. “For this reason and others, this is an unusual (and welcome) book for our times.”
AFTER THE LAST BORDER: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America, by Jessica Goudeau. (Viking, $27.) Goudeau spent years working with refugees in Texas, including two women (from Myanmar and Syria) whose stories give vivid, wrenching shape to her eloquent meditation on America’s attitudes toward aspiring immigrants. Our reviewer, Mimi Swartz, writes: “Reading ‘After the Last Border’ will make you wish that more Americans would take a critical look at themselves and ask whether we are who we want to be, or whether we have lost our allegiance to the dreams that still inspire so many to try to reach our shores.”
FATHOMS: The World in the Whale, by Rebecca Giggs. (Simon & Schuster, $27.) Giggs’s delving, haunted and poetic debut was spurred by her encounter with a doomed humpback. She questions the conventional wisdom that all is well with whales now that conservation campaigns have helped their populations rebound. “Giggs is worth reading for her spotlight observations and lyricism alone, but she also has an important message to deliver,” Doug Bock Clark writes in his review. “Her journey is intellectual; she relentlessly follows lines of questioning for marathon distances.”
THE AWKWARD BLACK MAN: Stories, by Walter Mosley. (Grove, $26.) Mosley’s collection features Black men who seem simple, even shallow on the surface, but who unfurl into breathtaking complexity as each story progresses. “Reading these stories, you feel as if you’re sitting with a gifted storyteller while he spins yarns about the strange people living in his mind,” Rion Amilcar Scott writes, reviewing the book alongside two other story collections. “The prolific Mosley delights in the wonderfully bizarre.”
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