Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Edited by Larry Siems. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Ten years ago, as an inmate in Guantánamo (where he is still held), Slahi began writing an exhaustive record of his detainment, starting with his 2001 arrest in Mauritania and including the dehumanizing torture and humiliating interrogations he has been subjected to. The resulting book was edited twice: Siems began his work only after the American government left the text rife with redactions.
A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor. (Vintage) When the stifled daughter of a traditional Indian family moves to Delhi after her mother’s death, she meets an older, cosmopolitan man (whom she describes as a “wild animal dressed in human clothes”) and is introduced to the city’s gritty undercurrents. Kapoor’s debut novel deals with thwarted female desire and cycles of life and death.
How About Never – Is Never Good For You? My Life In Cartoons, by Bob Mankoff. (Picador) The New Yorker’s cartoon editor reflects on the roots of his “Queens wise guy” humor (which he traces to his relationship with his mother), early artistic forays as a fledgling cartoonist and his approach to the craft in a time when magazine cartoons have nearly gone extinct. Mankoff’s memoir also touches on the cultural legacy of New Yorker cartoons (including their famous “ungettability”).
The Country Of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman. (Ecco/HarperCollins) Written in a post-apocalyptic patois, Newman’s novel follows Ice Cream Star, a teenage heroine racing to find a cure for the plague that kills all the members of her tribe before they reach the age of 20. Her haunting story “makes us confront the undeniable fact that the citizens of the future will be forced to repeat the history we’re making today,” Andrew Ervin said here.
The Birth Of The Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex And Launched A Revolution by Jonathan Eig. (Norton) Margaret Sanger dedicated her life to improving sex for women, but it wasn’t until she was in her 70s that she found Gregory Pincus, a scientist who believed a pill that prevented pregnancy was possible. Eig recounts here how they – with financial backing from Katharine McCormick, a wealthy widow, and support from John Rock, a Roman Catholic physician – found an option that radically changed the dynamics of sex.
Man V. Nature: Stories by Diane Cook. (Harper Perennial) Cook’s masterly collection depicts a series of battles, literal and philosophical, that pit humans against forces greater than themselves. In the title story, three longtime friends stranded on a boat imagine their predicament as fodder for a television show.
Living The Secular Life: New Answers To Old Questions by Phil Zuckerman. (Penguin) Zuckerman offers a sensitive exploration of atheism and the moral principles that guide the growing number of Americans who are nonreligious.
New York Times