10 New Books We Recommend This Week

10 New Books We Recommend This Week

August is the height of escape season. But bear with us through some worthy serious stuff before we get to that. This week’s list includes a complex and empathetic report on life in South Africa after apartheid, a memoir about growing up gay in oil country, a Los Angeles Times reporter’s account of taking on a powerful university and a biography of George Michael that delves into the singer’s troubled life.

The rest might not be traditional beach material, but they all offer delights: Digital life is represented in both nonfiction and fiction — a deep dive into internet fandom and a sweeping novel about video game designers. Plus, short stories from Hilary Mantel, an epic new novel by Alice Elliott Dark and a beautifully structured poetry debut by Paul Tran. And perhaps the perfect escape: The fourth novel in a detective series offers up character studies alongside its central murder plot.

—John Williams

Fairbanks writes about South Africa in the years after apartheid mainly through the experiences of three people: Malaika, born a few years before the end of apartheid, who lived in Soweto, a Black township on the outskirts of Johannesburg; her mother, Dipuo; and Christo, a white lawyer who worked as a soldier for the apartheid regime before it collapsed.

Simon & Schuster | $27.99

In this fictional love letter to the pleasures of collaboration, students at MIT and Harvard enter the arena of literary game-building, with hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking results.

The fourth mystery to feature Jing-nan — who owns a stand in Taipei’s Shilin Night Market — is an immersive, thrilling read, not because of the murders that drive the plot but because of the way Lin emphasizes his characters’ inner struggles.

Soho Crime | $27.95

The singer emerges as a gifted but infuriating figure in this engrossing biography, a man whose tortured relationship to his sexuality steered him into artistic confusion and self-sabotage.

AbramsPress | $32.50

In this sweeping, all-encompassing novel, a pair of lifelong friends (now in their 80s) struggle to determine the future of the peninsula in Maine that has been in their families for generations. The decision becomes a referendum on their different choices and their loyalty to each other.

Marysue Rucci/Scribner | $28.99

This elegantly structured debut poetry collection is full of writing about writing, about poetry as a way to make meaning. The result, an ambivalent dance with beauty, resists aestheticizing trauma, since Tran (like Randall Jarrell) questions the possibility of turning pain into art.

Penguin Poets | Paper, $18

Mantel’s short-story collection (originally published in Britain in 2003) is all about growing up — and in the Booker-winning author’s universe, there’s nothing sweet about childhood. All the young people we meet are trapped by forces larger than themselves; yet Mantel’s writing makes even the bleakest narrative propulsive and urgent.

A journalist at The Los Angeles Times details a 16-month-long reporting saga that eventually produced an LA noir-style account of exploitation, depravity and greed.

Celadon | $29.99

Following internecine fandom battles (“vicious and exhilarating, like college football except interesting”), Tiffany, a technology reporter, traces the shifting status of fangirls in the culture at large.

MCD x FSG Originals | Paper, $18

Brorby’s memoir recounts his coming-of-age in rural North Dakota, where being gay brought the threat of ostracism and violence. He also examines his family’s history in the coal industry, and the damage being done to the landscape he grew to love.

#Books #Recommend #Week

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