Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum. (Anchor) In her Pulitzer Prize-winning “Gulag” (2003), Applebaum documented the horror of Stalin’s Soviet terror machine. Now this remarkable sequel, drawn from newly opened archives and survivor interviews, shows how the Soviet Union imposed its totalitarian will upon Eastern European nations ravaged by World War II.
Ancient Light by John Banville. (Vintage International) Alexander Cleave, an aging actor and the hero of Banville’s slyly constructed novel, finds his career inexplicably revived by a film role playing a man who may not be who he claims. As life and art become intertwined, Alexander is dogged by memories of two traumatic events: an underage love affair with his best friend’s mother, and the suicide, decades later, of his own troubled daughter.
Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream by Neil Young. (Plume, $18.) The singer and songwriter provides a road map to his quizzically off-center life – from his Canadian childhood to his part in the 1960s rock explosion with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, through his late career with Crazy Horse.
The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos. (Simon & Schuster) Opening in Athens in 1967, the year a military junta seized power in Greece, Bakopoulos’ first novel follows one family over seven years as each member negotiates a balance between conscience and caution, private life and political protest.
No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems by Liu Xiaobo. Edited by Perry Link, Tienchi Martin-Liao and Liu Xia. (Belknap/Harvard University) In 2009, the Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “incitement of subversion of state power”; the following year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In these essays he confronts myriad issues, from the plight of the Chinese farmer to the eroding spirituality of Chinese youth.
Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro. (Vintage International) Munro is one of the foremost short-story writers of her generation, and many of the stories in this collection - set in her signature territory around Lake Huron - pinpoint moments when people are forever altered by chance encounters, actions not taken, or simple twists of fate. “Dear Life” also includes four semi-autobiographical stories that give a glimpse into Munro’s own childhood.
Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession by Craig Childs. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Is an archaeologist who excavates a tomb a hero or a villain? From the canyons of the American Southwest to art galleries, museums and smuggling rings, Childs explores the pursuit of artifacts and the moral ambiguities that come from exposing a long-hidden world.
This Bright River by Patrick Somerville. (Reagan Arthur/Back Bay/Little, Brown) Past misdeeds afflict generations of a Midwestern family in Somerville’s second novel, a potboiler that’s also an affecting love story about rebuilding broken lives.
New York Times