The Finkler Question
by Howard Jacobson
What does it mean to be Jewish? Howard Jacobson tackles that essential uncertainty head-on in The Finkler Question, which was awarded the Man Booker Prize for Fiction on Tuesday. One of the most fearless writers to delve into the question of Jewish identity, Jacobson has established himself as the literary voice of the Jewish community in Britain — a country where Jews are a much smaller and less assimilated minority compared with America. His tale of a lackluster London liberal who yearns to pass as a Jew is rife with satire that’s so biting it pulls you along for 300 pages and leaves a battlefield of sacred cows in its wake.
320 pages, $15, Bloomsbury USA
A Life Beyond Limits
by Linda Gordon
Dorothea Lange's photographs of the Great Depression are one reason many of us have an image of what that era looked like. Born in 1895, Lange’s own life was difficult. At age 7, she had polio, which left her with a withered lower right leg and a twisted, crabbed foot. Yet she was physically and emotionally strong and ambitious at a time when women weren't supposed to be. "One of the reasons that she was such a good portrait photographer is that she had an extraordinary power to connect with all sorts of people, to draw them out," author Linda Gordon tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.
560 pages, $19.95, W.W. Norton & Co.
The Doctors And Medical Miracles That Are Saving Lives Against All Odds
by Sanjay Gupta with Caleb Hellerman
Death isn’t an event so much as a process that can be disrupted, Sanjay Gupta shows in this account of the medical breakthroughs that can revive patients who might formerly have been considered brain dead. Ranging into controversial areas such as stem-cell research, vegetative comas, near-death experiences and fetal surgery, the chief medical correspondent for the health and medical unit at CNN probes the intersection of medicine, ethics, religion, law, and the economics of life and death.
304 pages, $14.99, Grand Central Publishing
Waiting for Superman
How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools
Edited by Karl Weber
Davis Guggenheim, director of the documentary Waiting for Superman, sets out to do for the school reform debate in this country what he did for the debate over global warming in An Inconvenient Truth — scare us. "Among 30 developed countries, we rank 25th in math, 21st in science and in almost every category we've fallen behind," says Guggenheim, as the film's narrator. This companion to the film offers insights from educational innovators — including Bill and Melinda Gates, Michelle Rhee and Geoffrey Canada — along with resources, ideas and hands-on suggestions for improving schools locally and nationally.
288 pages, $15.95, Public Affairs
An American Reporter On The Police Beat In Japan
by Jake Adelstein
Over his 12 years as an American journalist in Japan, Jake Adelstein revealed a world unknown to many of the Japanese public, let alone to foreigners: the world of organized crime. In this memoir, Adelstein shows how he investigated the trafficking of women in Japan, a firmly rooted illegal business often protected by the politically powerful and by the yakuza, Japan's pervasive organized-crime syndicate. In his final story, Adelstein went toe-to-toe with one of the country's most notorious crime bosses, a discovery that led to death threats for him and his family — threats that have yet to be lifted. Today he is considered one of the foremost experts on organized crime in Japan, and works as a writer and consultant in Japan and the United States.
352 pages, $15.95, Vintage
Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also writes the Follow the Reader blog about digital publishing issues.