The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight For Justice And Freedom In China by Chen Guangcheng. (Picador/Holt) The author, a human-rights activist whose improbable escape from China in 2012 captured worldwide attention, reflects on his lifetime of overcoming adversity: After teaching himself law and growing into a leading political dissident, he evaded house arrest, making his way to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. His eventual release to the United States was negotiated by Hillary Clinton.
Career Of Evil by Robert Galbraith. (Mulholland/Little, Brown.) The third novel by J.K. Rowling under her crime-writer pseudonym finds Detective Cormoran Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacott, pondering a mysterious severed leg sent to their office. The story delves deeper into Robin’s history, and “achieves a new candor about the gap between solving crimes and repairing their damages,” Times reviewer Charles Finch wrote.
Becoming Freud: The Making Of A Psychoanalyst by Adam Phillips. (Yale University) Phillips, a pre-eminent scholar of psychoanalysis, guides readers through the beliefs and theories that underpin Sigmund Freud’s contributions to the field. As Phillips puts it, our thirst for knowledge about him “has to be tempered with a certain irony. Because it was precisely the stories we tell ourselves about our lives, and about other people’s lives, that Freud put into question, that Freud taught us to read differently.”
Re Jane by Patricia Park. (Penguin) Park’s breezy retelling of “Jane Eyre” features a half-American, half-Korean woman trying to strike out on her own in New York City. The novel’s heroine takes a nanny job with a progressive couple, academics in Brooklyn, and flourishes, until a family obligation calls her back to Seoul.
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The Triumph Of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses And Pips Conquered The Plant Kingdom And Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson. (Basic Books) Hanson admires seeds’ tremendous might, and zeros in on their vast capacities: to nourish, to defend, even to fly. Their ubiquity has often meant that their evolutionary solutions are overlooked, but the author appraises them with a keen and appreciative eye.
The Tusk That Did The Damage by Tania James. (Vintage) In James’ novel, set in southern India’s forestlands, the ivory trade is thriving and a rogue elephant has been mauling villagers. The narrative assumes the perspectives of the area’s residents – including the elephant itself. James “offers a captivating rendering of an animal’s point of view, estranging but also legible,” Randy Boyagoda wrote here.
One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History by Peter Manseau. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Manseau uncovers the multiplicity of faiths whose traces can be found in early American society, including Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, and shows how the country’s multicultural identity can be extended to its religious foundations, too.
New York Times