August 31, 2010 Sometimes, lightning does strike twice: The latest novel by Giles Foden — author of The Last King of Scotland — is an absorbing, elegant and thoughtful read. Turbulence, which dramatizes the Allied effort to use meteorology for military gain during World War II, follows a young meteorologist who must convince a brilliant pacifist to contribute to the war effort.
August 26, 2010 In her new book about bad behavior, Laura Kipnis explores why we can't look away when a public drama unfolds. But critic Susan Jane Gilman says her approach is a bit too timid for such a titillating topic.
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August 25, 2010 In a powerful memoir, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey surveys the storm-battered landscape of the place she once called home. Beyond Katrina is a powerful meditation on things long gone that will never come back.
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Jonathan Franzen is also the author of The Corrections: A Novel, and The Discomfort Zone, a memoir.
August 24, 2010 There's been plenty of buzz about Jonathan Franzen's much-anticipated fourth novel ever since President Obama accepted an advance readers copy for his vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Critic Heller McAlpin says inflated expectations aside, she found Freedom to be a surprisingly moving and hopeful epic.
August 23, 2010 It's safe to say that most Americans don't spend much time thinking about intellectual property law. But in Common As Air, Lewis Hyde explains why these laws profoundly affect our culture — and how they are based on assumptions that are artificial, illogical and outdated.
August 20, 2010 In Rosecrans Baldwin's wise debut novel, a young widower comes to terms with the sudden death of his wife. Critic Michael Schaub says this moving meditation on the way grief distorts memories is affecting, profound and true.
August 19, 2010 Call him creepy, but author Tom Rachman says the liveliest reads are about the dead. Obit lovers insist that the best remembrances are more about life than about death, and Rachman agrees. He recommends The Daily Telegraph Fourth Book of Obituaries — a very British collection of rogue remembrances.
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August 18, 2010 The fictional Chinese detective Charlie Chan, who starred in a series of novels and movies between the 1920s and the 1950s, is often dismissed as a "Yellow Uncle Tom." But in the fascinating, sometimes maddening history Charlie Chan, Yunte Huang argues that Charlie is much more than a stereotype.
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Mona Simpson is also the author of The Lost Father and Anywhere But Here.
August 16, 2010 Mona Simpson's new novel focuses on a group of wealthy Santa Monica mothers — juggling families, jobs and packed social calendars — and their immigrant nannies, who make it all work. Critic Jane Ciabattari says the novel is a resonant and timely observation about the gap between Hollywood's haves and have-nots.
August 16, 2010 When Joshua Braff was an M.F.A. student, his classmates smirked when he announced that John Irving was one of his favorite authors. But he's proud of his love for The World According to Garp; Braff says Irving's characters live and breathe before, during and after the story ends.
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August 14, 2010 It's not often that a book can cover World War I in less than 200 pages, but critic Jonathan Hunt says Russell Freedman has succeeded admirably. Amid the epic sweep of world events, Freedman never loses sight of the smaller moments of human drama.
August 12, 2010 William Boyd's hapless protagonist is a misogynistic, misanthropic, overweight, oversexed first secretary of the British High Commission in the fictitious West African country Kinjanja. Writer Susan Coll says that wrapped up in the dark comedy, Boyd delivers an unflinching critique of British attitudes in early post-Colonial years.
August 10, 2010 Japanese novelist Shuichi Yoshida straddles the boundary between the pre- and post-Internet world, and his latest book is a crime thriller challenging assumptions about real and virtual identities. Villain contrasts Japan's welcoming embrace of the wired world with its strong roots in tradition.
August 10, 2010 A half-century has passed since Timothy Leary, a research psychologist at Harvard University, swallowed some magic mushrooms in Mexico. Author Don Lattin recommends three books that delve into the colorful, creative world of Leary and other psychedelic trailblazers of the 1960s.
Published in 1968, The Laughing Policeman is the fourth in the Martin Beck detective series by Swedish husband-and-wife team Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.
August 9, 2010 Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy has taken U.S. readers by storm. Not since the arrival of Ikea on these shores has Sweden made such an inroad into the American home and imagination. But critic Maureen Corrigan says the impressive "Ice Age" of Nordic mystery writing is well under way.
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