New this week: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini; The Redeemer, a new Harry Hole novel from Jo Nesbø (see our interview); and Abigail Tarttelin’s debut novel Golden Boy. Also out: The Fall of Arthur, J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic poem, and George Packer’s The Unwinding.
“Art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value. … America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway.” Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch discuss the Great American Novel in this week’s New York Times Bookends. For a slightly different take, consider the 9 novels our experts chose as the Greatest American novels, from Moby-Dick to The Godfather.