NPR stories about Book Reviews
September 13, 2013 Reviewer Susan Jane Gilman wasn't impressed by the title of Someone, but she says Alice McDermott's novel is nowhere near as generic as its name. Nothing extraordinary happens to the Irish-American protagonist, but with spare poetry and deep compassion, McDermott makes familiar territory seem new.
September 13, 2013 Norman Rush's newest novel takes a geographic hiatus from Botswana, his usual literary location. Instead, reviewer Drew Toal says the book is instead full of irritating intellectuals, postmortem scandal, and a group of collegiate clowns who come together after the death of an old friend.
September 13, 2013 Margaret Atwood's new MaddAddam completes the post-apocalyptic science fiction trilogy she began with 2003's Oryx and Crake. Reviewer Annalee Newitz says MaddAddam is a "snarky but soulful peek at what happens to the world after a mad scientist decimates humanity with a designer disease."
September 12, 2013 Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens sketches a history of the American left that is at once intimate and expansive. Out of the lives of a few conflicted characters, reviewer Mohsin Hamid explains, the book lends depth and emotion to events that affected millions.
September 12, 2013 Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan puts forth his prescription for America's educational system in I Got Schooled. Reviewer John Wilwol says it's a "breezily written, research driven" book that debunks common myths about education in Shyamalan's distinctive — if flawed — voice.
September 12, 2013 Cambridge classics professor Mary Beard's latest book, Confronting the Classics, takes a gleefully contrarian approach to marble-bust greats like Homer and Thucydides. Reviewer Annalisa Quinn says the work "expertly straddles the line between scholarly and accessible."
September 11, 2013 Tom Perrotta has been called "the Steinbeck of suburbia" for his depictions of self-sabotaging adolescents and foolish middle-class adults. His new book — his first short-story collection in 19 years — is full of strong but repetitive stories, sad tales of failures earnestly yearning to do better.
September 10, 2013 Two new books published Tuesday tell the story of Harlem. The first features the white women involved in the Harlem Renaissance. And the second profiles three black female artists during World War II.
September 9, 2013 Daniel Woodrell's new novel explores the lingering consequences of an explosion in an Ozarks dance hall that kills 42 people. It wasn't an accident, but the book isn't about a hunt for the murderer. Instead, reviewer Ellah Allfrey says, it's a remarkable study of a surviving sister's life and grief.
September 8, 2013 Sheri Fink's Five Days At Memorial, describes the horrific conditions at a New Orleans hospital shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Facing floodwaters and corporate mismanagement, some staffers euthanized sick patients. Fink's judgment of those actions is admirably — and frustratingly — nuanced.
September 7, 2013 Media outlets are full of stories about whether women can "have it all." After becoming a mother, Curtis Sittenfeld came to appreciate novels and memoirs that look beyond those headlines to celebrate the difficult, messy, delightful juggling act of parenthood. She shares three of her favorites.
September 4, 2013 Alice McDermott's characters can often be described as average, and Marie, the heroine of her latest novel, is no exception. But critic Maureen Corrigan says the power of McDermott's writing is that she can make even Marie's run-of-the-mill life one for the record books.
September 4, 2013 Michael Gruber's new novel, The Return, is a tale of memory and revenge: hero Rick Marder, a New York literary type with a medical death sentence, heads south to settle old scores with the narcotraficantes who killed his in-laws. Reviewer Alan Cheuse calls Gruber a "master of the genre."
September 3, 2013 Books about quantum mechanics can be pretty dry stuff. But when a novelist conjures up multiple worlds, the results can be spellbinding, even when it's no easy read. Such is the case with Duplex, the latest book from Kathryn Davis. Reviewer Rosecrans Baldwin, says this one's worth the effort.
September 3, 2013 Ben Dolnick's coming-of-age tales themselves mature in the new At the Bottom of Everything, which chronicles a teenaged friendship that's faded after a terrible event. Reviewer Drew Toal says that despite some missteps, Dolnick has a strong sense of his characters and their shared trauma.