Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from Geraldine Brooks, Sandra Newman, Lisa Taddeo, and more—that are publishing this week.
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Horse by Geraldine Brooks
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Horse: “Pulitzer winner Brooks returns after The Secret Chord with a fascinating saga based on the true story of a famous 19th-century racehorse. In 2019, Theo Northam, a Black graduate student in Washington, D.C., finds a discarded equestrian painting that he decides to research for a Smithsonian magazine article. Meanwhile, Jess, a bone specialist at the Smithsonian, gets a call about an old horse skeleton that’s been stored in the museum’s attic. Jess and Theo end up meeting, but first Brooks takes the story to 1850s Lexington, Ky., where Jarret Lewis, an enslaved boy, is the groom for a promising colt that his father, Harry, a freedman, has trained. But then the horse, Lexington, is sold and the new buyer sends him along with Jarret to a Mississippi plantation with ruinous consequences. In 1853, Lexington and Jarret end up in New Orleans, where the horse thrills the racing world, and Jarret hopes to buy his freedom, while back in contemporary D.C., a romance blossoms between Jess and Theo. While Brooks’s multiple narratives and strong character development captivate, and she soars with the story of Jarret, a late plot twist in the D.C. thread dampens the ending a bit. Despite a bit of flagging in the home stretch, this wins by a nose.”
The Men by Sandra Newman
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Men: “Newman (The Heavens) delivers a smashing feminist utopia (or dystopia) about a young woman whose husband and son go missing along with all the other people in the world who were born with a Y chromosome. While camping, Jane Pearson begins imagining what her life would be like without the burden of a family. Then, in a strange dreamlike flicker, they vanish from their tent. Jane’s first reaction, like the other women portrayed, is one of abject grief. There’s Ji-Won Park, an artist who mourns the loss of her platonic best friend; Blanca Suarez, 14, whose aunt moves her into a house share situation with Alma McCormick, a 40-year-old woman who takes over the Los Angeles mansion where her brother worked as a caretaker; and Ruth Goldstein, a New Yorker who takes a $10,000 flight to be with her daughter on the West Coast. After Jane emerges from the woods, she discovers women adjusting to the new normal with a festive air, Ruth witnesses a harrowing attack on a trans man, and ComPA, a fringe movement Jane founded in her college years with fellow student and lover Evangelyne Moreau, attempts to fill the power vacuum. Evangelyne, a Black woman who, at 14, was convicted of murder after shooting two police officers during a raid on her peaceful cult in Vermont, once shared a special bond with Jane, and now they reconnect. Their backstory enriches the reader’s understanding of Jane’s ambivalence about having a family, and Newman provides powerful insights on the limits of sacrifice. As all the characters converge, the author introduces startling explanations for the mass disappearance. This is a stunner.”
One’s Company by Ashley Hutson
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about One’s Company: “Hutson’s affecting and ingenious debut follows a woman’s attempt to find refuge from her tragic reality. Bonnie is known in her small town as the convenience store clerk who survived a vicious robbery in which she was sexually assaulted and the store’s owners murdered. Alone in her trailer, she develops an obsession with the 1970s sitcom Three’s Company, in which she finds a ‘surrogate family, impervious to death or harm.’ After she wins a massive lottery payout, she buys a mountaintop property and recreates the show’s apartment complex. Hutson succeeds in describing Bonnie’s quasi-religious devotion to the pop culture artifact without resorting to pompousness. Rather, Hutson instills the enterprise with Bonnie’s sense of impending doom, which she expresses in self-aware narration: ‘Farce punishes everyone eventually.’ The project unfolds in complete secrecy, the actors and crew required to sign NDAs, read Bonnie’s dry synopsis of the show, and watch an episode. (Readers will likely be put in mind of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder more than once.) Once the giant replica set is built, Bonnie plays the sitcom’s various characters in turn, though her isolated splendor is threatened when outsiders intrude onto the compound. This darkly clever work dramatizes the necessity and fragility of illusions, showing how they can crumble when broadcast to the world. Hutson is off to a brilliant start.”
The Girls in Queens by Christine Kandic Torres
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Girls in Queens: “Torres debuts with an incisive and keenly observed story of girls and women navigating life in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens. In 2006, narrator Brisma, a shy aspiring screenwriter raised by a single Puerto Rican mother and about to graduate from college, runs into her high school boyfriend Brian, now a college baseball player, at a Mets game. Later, as Brisma starts thinking of rekindling their romance, she learns he has been accused of sexual assault, which leads her to reconsider her relationship with him back in the ’90s, which began when she was 15, and to reflect on other sexual predators she knew of in her youth. Her past and present are both tangled not only with Brian but with her best friend, Kelly, an outgoing woman whose Colombian father has returned to his native country and whose Irish mother is in prison. Their resilient but volatile friendship forms the heart of the story and is tested after Kelly takes a different view of Brian’s accusers by offering him support, which makes Brisma feel betrayed. Even more impressive is the vibrant portrait of Queens, where gender, skin color, and ethnicity are prime factors in shaping the characters’ social positions. Torres hits every note perfectly. ”
Flying Solo by Linda Holmes
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Flying Solo: “Holmes (Evvie Drake Starts Over) serves up a sweet romance with a side of mystery in this fun page-turner. Laurie Sassalyn, having recently called off her wedding and on the cusp of her 40th birthday, returns to her Maine hometown to clean out the house of her recently deceased great-aunt Dot. Sorting through Dot’s belongings, Laurie finds a wooden duck decoy and an old letter with an inscrutable reference to ducks. She investigates the story behind the decoy with the help of a few friends, including her high school sweetheart Nick. Laurie and Nick renew their romance, but to his disappointment, Laurie has no plans to stay in town or settle down. Meanwhile, Laurie hires a man to help clean out the house, but when he finds out the duck might have a connection to a famous artist, he swindles Laurie and buys it for much less than it’s worth. After she realizes her mistake, she and her friends hatch a harebrained scheme to recover the decoy. Holmes’s colorful cast of characters pop off the page, and the sure-footed plot entertains. Readers will be eager to see what Holmes does next.”
Ghost Lover by Lisa Taddeo
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Ghost Lover: “Taddeo (Animal) critiques late-stage capitalism in her smart if sometimes cryptic debut collection. In the title story, a woman spurned by her lover becomes famous after she creates an app that allows female clients to woo potential lovers through beautiful online Cyranos. An older woman in ‘Forty-two’ discovers that life is a numbers game when she learns her ex-lover is about to marry a younger woman. At a Malibu fund-raiser in ‘American Girl,’ three women—a busty waitress, a once famous actor, and a talk show host named Cremora (after the cream substitute)—all vie for the attention of an up-and-coming California politician. In ‘Air Supply,’ a hedonistic 18-year-old high school student and her best friend have their relationship tested during a portentous vacation in Puerto Rico. The stories are parts Didionesque anomie, American Psycho-ish brand invocation (Journelle, Dunhill, Barbuto), and a nonstop barrage of head-scratching non sequiturs masquerading as hip observations (‘Pastrami is the polar opposite of Los Angeles,’ according to the narrator of ‘Ghost Lover’). Though the affectless characters can start to wear a bit and begin to feel familiar, they reflect the author’s well-earned reputation for harnessing a vision of America populated by unfulfilled happiness seekers. This isn’t Taddeo’s best, but her fans will dig it.”