Noteworthy paperbacks

November 9, 2013 

“There Was A Country: A Memoir” by Chinua Achebe.

There Was A Country: A Memoir by Chinua Achebe. (Penguin) Achebe, the Nigerian author and internationally acclaimed man of letters who died in March at age 82, caught the world’s attention with his first novel, “Things Fall Apart” (1958). In “There Was a Country,” he recalls coming of age as a writer alongside a fragile new nation – the Republic of Biafra – whose succession from Nigeria in 1967 led to a bloody civil war.

Of Africa by Wole Soyinka. (Yale University) Soyinka, the Nigerian playwright and Nobel laureate, offers a wide-ranging inquiry into Africa’s cultures, religions, history and identity.

Harvest by Jim Crace. (Vintage) Set in an insular English village, Crace’s haunting novel is a parable about threatened agrarian life. It begins with two curious twists of smoke on the morning after harvest; both are harbingers of trouble, and irruptive forces soon bring suspicion and upheaval.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham. (Random House) “American Lion,” Meacham’s Pulitzer–winning biography of Andrew Jackson, juxtaposed the bellicose and strategic sides of Jackson’s personality. Now, Meacham celebrates Thomas Jefferson’s life and skills as a practical politician: unafraid to wield power even when it conflicted with his small-government ideology.

The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days by Ian Frazier. (Picador) Structured as a daybook and based on Frazier’s comic essays in The New Yorker, this novel follows the Cursing Mommy – a foul-mouthed homemaker and advice columnist – as she chronicles a year in the life of her appalling family.

The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age by Martha C. Nussbaum. (Belknap/Harvard University) Why are European communities imposing regulations on the Muslim head scarf? How did a proposed Muslim cultural center in Lower Manhattan provoke a fevered political debate? Drawing inspiration from philosophy, history and literature, Nussbaum deconstructs the rise of anti-Muslim zealotry since Sept. 11.

Boleto by Alyson Hagy. (Graywolf) In 23-year-old Will Testerman, Hagy’s third novel presents a satisfyingly complex character: a Wyoming ranchman, both idealistic and self-serving, who dreams of training a bay filly for a life in polo.

The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America by Joe Nick Patoski. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) “America’s Team” has had its share of outsize characters, and this raucous history places the franchise against the political and socioeconomic backdrop of its sprawling hometown.

New York Times

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