What The Eye Hears: A History Of Tap Dancing by Brian Seibert. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Tap’s origins can be traced to the jig from the British Isles and dances brought to this continent from Africa by slaves, and that hybrid profoundly shaped American dance for years to come. Seibert, a dance critic for The New York Times, demonstrates an “admirable commitment to underlining the centrality of blackness to good tap,” reviewer John McWhorter wrote.
What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell. (Picador) An American teacher in Sofia, Bulgaria, is racked with desire for a man he meets while cruising for sex, and the pair begin a frenzied relationship. Greenwell’s masterly debut novel sketches out in fine detail the destabilizing experience of gay shame, both in rural Kentucky, where the central character grew up, and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Dark Money: The Hidden History Of The Billionaires Behind The Rise Of The Radical Right by Jane Mayer. (Anchor) For nearly 40 years, Charles and David Koch have been wielding their wealth to drown their political opponents, lifting conservatives to all levels of government. Mayer, a staff writer at The New Yorker, investigated how they accumulated their tremendous clout and all that their strategy has entailed. This was one of the Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2016.
The Blue Line by Ingrid Betancourt. (Penguin) Julia and Theo meet and fall in love in Argentina in the 1970s, when the country was in the throes of its Dirty War. Julia has an unusual ability to view tragedies from other people’s eyes and foretell disasters, but she’s powerless to prevent herself and Theo from being seized. In this novel, Betancourt, who was herself held hostage for six years in Colombia, traces ramifications of fascism that reverberate for decades.
In A Different Key: The Story Of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker. (Broadway) The authors offer a biography of the condition, told through the stories of individuals who had it; their families; and the doctors who worked to define and treat it. Cultural representations of autism, particularly the film “Rain Man,” helped broaden awareness of the condition and alleviate many of the stigmas surrounding it.
Georgia: A Novel Of Georgia O’keeffe by Dawn Tripp. (Random House, $17.) Telling the story from the painter’s own perspective, Tripp “conveys O’Keeffe’s joys and disappointments, rendering both the woman and the artist with keenness and consideration,” Maxwell Carter wrote in The Times.
The Road Taken: The History And Future Of America’s Infrastructure by Henry Petroski. (Bloomsbury) Bridges, highways and rail lines, for all their ubiquity, are deeply entwined with politics, and the state of our infrastructure can be a useful barometer for the country’s overall economic health. Petroski’s prescriptions to improve infrastructure are sprinkled throughout his account.
new york times