The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson. (Bloomsbury) Told in chapters that alternate between mother and son, Jackson’s raw, autobiographical novel describes a black family in Portland, Oregon, struggling with the cycles of poverty and addiction. Grace, just out of rehab, is determined to get her kids back. Her eldest, Champ, is in college but deals crack, convinced it’s the only way to achieve his dream.
Anatomies: A Cultural History Of The Human Body by Hugh Aldersey-Williams. (Norton) From Shakespeare and Rembrandt to tattoos, X-rays and shrunken heads, this loose-limbed multidisciplinary dissection shows how attitudes toward the human body are as varied as human history.
MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. (Anchor) The Waterless Flood has wiped out most of the population in the third volume of Atwood’s apocalyptic trilogy. As Toby, part of a small band of survivors, explains the origin of things to the Children of Crake – the gentle, bioengineered species who will inherit this new Earth – her tales cohere into an oral history that sets down humanity’s past and points toward its future.
The Telling Room: A Tale Of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, And The World’s Greatest Piece Of Cheese by Michael Paterniti. (Dial) A part-time job at a Michigan deli led to a life-altering obsession for Paterniti, who fell hard for the story of a “sublime” cave-aged Spanish cheese, its Old World Castilian maker and the feud over control of his business.
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Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography Of My Appetites by Kate Christensen. (Anchor) Culled from her blog, Christensen’s memoir is a paean to cooking and food, beginning with her childhood in 1960s Berkeley and taking her through marriage, divorce and a new life in Maine.
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls by Anton DiSclafani. (Riverhead) Thea Atwell, the strong-willed but self-destructive heroine of DiSclafani’s Depression-era novel, is 15 when she’s sent away to Yonahlossee, a boarding school for Southern debutantes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. As America teeters on a financial cliff, Thea navigates Yonahlossee’s complex social strata, ordered by money, beauty, equestrian prowess and girls-school rituals.
Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, And Compromise, 1848-1877 by Brenda Wineapple. (Harper Perennial) Wineapple’s masterly record of the decades surrounding the Civil War brings alive the vibrant, imperfect people behind the issues: not just the leaders in Washington and on the battlefield but the pro-slavery champions, the fervent abolitionists, the poets, the showmen and the quixotic adventurers who tried to seize Cuba and Nicaragua.
Identical by Scott Turow. (Grand Central) Inspired by the myth of Castor and Pollux, the twin brothers born to Leda after she was raped by Zeus, Turow’s latest Kindle County thriller focuses on twin brothers embroiled in a reopened murder case: State Sen. Paul Gianis, a candidate for mayor; and Cass Gianis, newly released from prison after serving 25 years for the crime.
New York Times