Recent books of interest:
HOW TO WALK ON WATER: And Other Stories, by Rachel Swearingen. (New American Press, paper, $14.95.) The stories in Swearingen’s disconcerting and promising debut explore themes of violence, chance and the consolations of imagination.
FORGOTTEN WORK, by Jason Guriel. (Biblioasis, paper, $14.95.) A futuristic dystopian rock novel in rhymed couplets, this rollicking book is as unlikely, audacious and ingenious as the premise suggests: “And then he plays some chords that sound both odd / and somehow right, as if unlocked by God.”
THE BOOK COLLECTORS: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War, by Delphine Minoui. Translated by Lara Vergnaud. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) A French journalist describes how a group of young men compiled a secret library outside Damascus as a refuge from Syria’s civil war.
JOE BIDEN: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos. (Scribner, $23.) Based on Osnos’s reporting for The New Yorker, this biography covers the candidate’s career as a senator and vice president as well as his life on the campaign trail.
THE LUCKIEST MAN: Life With John McCain, by Mark Salter. (Simon & Schuster, $35.) As a friend and adviser, the author was close to McCain; this book combines a conventional biography with the story of their bond.
What we’re reading:
Reading LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND has convinced me of Rumaan Alam’s clairvoyance — he so perfectly captures the uneasy dread and horror of this pandemic. In his novel, flamingos cavort in a swimming pool and thousands of deer gather in a mass migration on Long Island, mirroring reports of mountain goats reclaiming city streets. An older Black man returns to his own home that a white family has been renting, holding up his hands “in a gesture that was either conciliatory or said Don’t shoot”; protesters masked up and marched because the latter is not a given, not for Breonna Taylor or Trayvon Martin or so many others. Two families, brought together by Airbnb and circumstance, bunker down at that home, scared, lacking information about something mysterious and terrible that has already sickened one of them. As we trudge through this year, I think of this line, imbued with fear, and maybe — am I foolish? — a little promise: “However much had happened, so much more would happen.”
—Liriel Higa, senior staff editor, Opinion
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