The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Line of Beauty and The Swimming-Pool Library returns with an astonishing novel that traces the evolution of English society through the life and (ever fluctuating) legacy of a poet modeled after Rupert Brooke. It's a high-wire act that jumps between perspectives and generations as minor characters are catapulted into prominence, offering a rich education in literary and queer history. Still, according to National Book Critics Circle President Eric Banks, it all feels effortless. Banks praises the book, calling it a "masterpiece of exacting irony and sinuous prose."
How did the economic collapse of 2008 and 2009 give birth to a conservative populist revolt? That's the question Thomas Frank tries to answer in his sharp-tongued liberal polemic, Pity The Billionaire. In it, Frank — whose previous books include What's the Matter With Kansas? — writes that the recent revival of the right is just as extraordinary as "if the public had demanded dozens of new nuclear power plants in the days after the Three Mile Island disaster." He writes, "Before 2009, the man in the bread line did not ordinarily weep for the man lounging on his yacht." And yet, Frank says, that's become the central paradox of our time.
Years after leaving his small village in northern India, journalist and novelist Siddhartha Deb set out to explore the true impact of globalization on his homeland. He started by working undercover in an Indian call center, an experience that paved the way for his nonfiction mosaic, The Beautiful and the Damned:A Portrait of the New India. In the book, Deb follows the lives of a rural farmer, an ambitious hotel worker and an affluent movie producer to expose the dark side of Indian prosperity. He finds that, inevitably, the globalization that helped make India a world player continues to leave millions behind.
French novelist Emmanuel Carrere's memoir begins on a beach in Sri Lanka on Dec. 26, 2004, when the Indian Ocean tsunami wiped out tens of thousands of lives. Carrere was there vacationing with his partner, but, thanks to a fluke of timing, he wasn't on the beach when the tsunami hit. Carrere did, however, witness the awful spectacle of his friends, Delphine and Jerome, discovering that their daughter had been swept out to sea. NPR critic John Freeman calls Carrere a "beguiling" writer and praises the way he "winds back the clock, novelistic style, to describe how his friends' family decided to come to Sri Lanka at all, turning a faraway island into a second home. Telescoping out and then back in to the trauma, he reveals the way such a disaster can feel like the sudden revelation of a fate for which one was always destined."
Much of actress Mindy Kaling's humor is rooted in something that might seem infeasible: using logic to explore American culture. But it works — and works well — because Kaling uses a type of circular logic that's all her own. Just consider this 2011 tweet: "Can everyone buy my book please? I wanna quit the business and homeschool my kids real weird." That sense of twisted earnestness is what has made Kaling's TV alter ego, Kelly Kapoor, a hit with audiences of The Office. And it's a sensibility that runs through Kaling's new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? In humorous essays and lists, she shares her thoughts on her transformation from sensitive Indian girl to TV comedy player, her relationship with her mother, and the haphazard creative process of The Office's writers' room.
Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag.