All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women And The Rise Of An Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister. (Simon & Schuster) For millions of U.S. women, marriage is no longer a defining life event: In 2009, for the first time, single women outnumbered those who were married. Traister delves into the history of unmarried women, including their power as voters and agents of social change, and traces cultural shifts as more women forge independent lives.
Beatlebone by Kevin Barry. (Anchor) Built around an imagined conversation between John Lennon and an Irish driver-for-hire, this novel follows Lennon as he seeks solitude on an island he owned off Ireland’s coast. Times reviewer Steve Earle praised Barry’s ambitious prose and the novel’s conceit. “Books like this come along once in a generation,” he wrote.
The Only Street In Paris: Life On The Rue Des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino. (Norton) A street spanning the Ninth and 18th Arrondissements was once a haunt of Cézanne and Van Gogh, but Sciolino, a former Paris bureau chief for The New York Times, brings to life the neighborhood’s local residents, past and present: a beloved fishmonger who was forced to shutter his store; a 19th-century medium who roused ghosts; and an unofficial local historian.
She Loves Me Not: New And Selected Stories by Ron Hansen. (Scribner) Hansen’s stories examine a wide range of subjects, but their particular focus is on Nebraskan life. Omaha especially “is both rendered and reappropriated, registered and riffed on through a range of tonalities,” Times reviewer Sven Birkerts wrote. This edition also includes an excerpt from Hansen’s new novel, “The Kid,” which was published in October.
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The Fall Of The Ottomans: The Great War In The Middle East by Eugene Rogan. (Basic Books) Three historically Christian powers – Britain, France and Russia – launched the World War I offensive against the Ottomans, who had built the world’s largest Muslim empire, setting in motion the state’s demise in 1922. Rogan’s account touches upon the interplay of religion and ethnicity in international conflicts.
In The Language Of Miracles by Rajia Hassib. (Penguin) An Egyptian-American family grapples with the ramifications of an unspeakable tragedy in this debut novel. A year after their son, Hosaam, killed himself and a neighbor’s daughter, the Menshawys work to repair their place in a post-9/11 society.
Lafayette In The Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. (Riverhead) Vowell revisits the American Revolutionary War and its aftermath through the lens of the Marquis de Lafayette, a Frenchman inspired by a “great zeal to the cause of liberty” to join the fight. At 19, he became a Continental Army general and was hailed across the country for his efforts; his own attempts to influence the revolution in France floundered.
New York Times