Reporting Always: Writings From The New Yorker, by Lillian Ross. (Scribner) This collection of dispatches for the magazine spans nearly 60 years of Ross’ career, including profiles of Ernest Hemingway, Agnes Martin and Robin Williams. Her “work remains fresh and vibrant despite the passage of decades, a model of what patient observation, deep listening and stringent craft can achieve,” Pamela Erens wrote in The Times.
A Wild Swan: And Other Tales, by Michael Cunningham. Illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. (Picador) Cunningham, who won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for “The Hours,” revisits 10 classic fables, imbuing well-known characters with motives, humanity and depth; in the title story, a young man has a wing in place of an arm, a remnant of a resentful stepmother’s curse.
The Fly Trap, by Fredrik Sjoberg. Translated by Thomas Teal. (Vintage) “No sensible person is interested in flies, or anyway no woman,” Sjoberg, a Swedish entomologist, notes early on in his memoir. He muses on the pleasures of collecting and the natural world, and has a sharp eye for describing the residents of the remote island where he lives and works.
The Expatriates, by Janice Y.K. Lee. (Penguin) Three U.S. women navigate the tribulations of life in Hong Kong and the status that maternity confers there. For each woman in Lee’s social satire, the implications of motherhood are nearly as bewildering as living abroad. Hilary’s marriage is stagnating; Mercy, a recent college graduate, orbits without attachment to the community’s various social groups; and Margaret grapples with a tragedy from her past.
Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, by Kate Clifford Larson. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Complications during her delivery left Rosemary Kennedy with intellectual disabilities. Her parents, wary of the stigmas of mental illness, shielded her from view to protect their other children’s futures, and her father’s decision to arrange a lobotomy left her debilitated. Larson traces Rosemary’s life and how her family responded to her; some eventually championed rights for people with disabilities.
Death by Water, by Kenzaburo Oe. Translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm. (Grove) An aging writer – who appears across other novels and resembles an avatar of Oe himself – struggling against a creative block seeks inspiration. Reviewer Janice P. Nimura called Oe “an eloquent spokesman for a generation that can remember, vividly and viscerally, all sides of Japan’s ambiguities.”
1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History, by Jay Winik. (Simon & Schuster) Before 1944, intervening to save European Jews from massacre during World War II was not Roosevelt’s top priority. However, he agreed that year to form a federal agency, the War Refugee Board, that was eventually credited with rescuing more than 200,000 people from the Holocaust. That decision transformed America’s role in the conflict.
New York Times