The Impulse Society: America In The Age Of Instant Gratification by Paul Roberts. (Bloomsbury) The wealth of choices allowing people to hyper-personalize their lives has deteriorated society’s shared sense of the common good, Roberts argues here. As he puts it: “An economy reoriented to give us what we want, it turns out, isn’t the best for delivering what we need.”
The Seventh Day by Yu Hua. Translated by Allan H. Barr. (Anchor) In Yu’s fictional Chinese necropolis, poor citizens who can’t pay for their burials roam a “hazy, indistinct” afterlife, where they reminisce about their life paths and encounter long-dead friends and relatives. The story’s central character, a young tutor who died unexpectedly, reunites with his ex-wife and adoptive father over the course of a week.
Crossing The Bay Of Bengal: The Furies Of Nature And The Fortunes Of Migrants by Sunil S. Amrith. (Harvard University) Centuries of migration and commerce have shaped this region’s cosmopolitan history and identity: As a central thoroughfare between India and China, it was once the thriving heart of an imperial trading economy. Understanding its history offers a key to understanding Asia’s future.
All Involved by Ryan Gattis. (Ecco/HarperCollins) In 1992, after three white police officers were acquitted of using excessive force on Rodney King, Los Angeles erupted in deadly citywide protests. Gattis’ novel unfolds in the days after the jury’s decision and shifts between the perspectives of 17 narrators, who form a chorus of the city’s voices.
The Girl From Human Street: A Jewish Family Odyssey by Roger Cohen. (Vintage) Cohen, a New York Times columnist and former foreign correspondent, places his extended family’s displacement in a broad historical context. As he retraces the family’s history (with stops in Lithuania, South Africa, Israel and England), he also delves into the psychological impact of those upheavals on his mother, who suffered from depression for much of her adult life.
A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) In her previous novel, “Life After Life,” Atkinson’s characters were granted chances to experience multiple alternate lives and narrative trajectories amid the turbulence of early-20th-century Europe. This “companion” novel examines the costs of war through the multigenerational story of one family, headed by a World War II pilot, as it settles into a foreclosed, postwar future.
Breaking In: The Rise Of Sonia Sotomayor And The Politics Of Justice by Joan Biskupic. (Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Sonia Sotomayor’s 2009 appointment to the Supreme Court was the culmination of what reviewer Kimberlé Crenshaw called a “remarkable up-by-the-bootstraps performance that propelled her to the front of the competition.” Biskupic’s book examines the political and cultural shifts that helped create the conditions for Sotomayor’s ascent.
New York Times