Kinder Than Solitude, by Yiyun Li. (Random House) Li’s intricate mystery spans the two decades after the Tiananmen crackdown of 1989. Shaoai, a brash student protester in Beijing, is poisoned, and three members of her circle are implicated: Ruyu, her orphaned teenage cousin, and their friends Moran and Boyang. As Shaoai lingers for years, brain-damaged and uncommunicative, the three become separated by distance and estrangement, haunted by what happened in their youth.
Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America, by Annie Jacobsen. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) In the aftermath of World War II, Germany’s scientists – including those who had been Nazi Party members, SS officers and war criminals – were seen as vital to American national security. Jacobsen details the covert operation that brought them, and their weapons research, to work in the United States.
The Days of Anna Madrigal, by Armistead Maupin. (Harper Perennial) The elegiac ninth and final novel of Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series spotlights one of its most beloved characters: Anna Madrigal, the wisecracking transgender landlady who presided over 28 Barbary Lane. While her bohemian acquaintances are bound for the Burning Man festival, Anna, now 92, journeys into the troubled heart of her Depression-era childhood in Winnemucca, Nev., to unearth a lifetime of secrets and attend to unfinished business.
Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality, by Edward Frenkel. (Basic) This memoir, by a renowned mathematician, makes an impassioned case for math’s relevance and beauty, and introduces readers to modern developments in the field like the Langlands Program, “considered by many as the Grand Unified Theory of mathematics.”
Rhett Butler’s People, by Donald McCaig. (St. Martin’s Griffin) McCaig sets out to rehabilitate Scarlett O’Hara’s romantic hero in this authorized sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s novel of the Old South, “Gone With the Wind.” McCaig’s “parallel” story moves from Rhett’s childhood on a Charleston rice plantation to duels and his adventures as a blockade runner and Confederate soldier.
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, by Jennifer Senior. (Ecco/HarperCollins) In a series of interviews with families who are neither typical nor extraordinary, Senior analyzes the many ways children reshape parents’ lives: marriages, jobs, habits, hobbies, friendships and internal senses of self. “Salted with insights and epigrams, the book is argued with bracing honesty and flashes of authentic wisdom,” Andrew Solomon wrote in the New York Times Book Review.
At the Bottom of Everything, by Ben Dolnick. (Vintage Contemporaries) Adam, an appealing yet somewhat callow Ivy League graduate and the narrator of Dolnick’s third novel, has spent years trying not to think about his former best friend, Thomas. But at the request of Thomas’ terrified parents, Adam embarks on a strange journey to India, where Thomas has gone to ground.
New York Times