The Sound of Things Falling, by Juan Gabriel Vásquez. Translated by Anne McLean. (Riverhead) Vásquez’s closely observed novel is built on Colombia’s tragic history with the drug trade. In 1990s Bogotá, a young lawyer named Antonio witnesses the assassination of a reclusive friend just out of prison after 20 years. Antonio’s search for answers leads him back to the 1960s, before Bogotá was engulfed by violence “whose actors are collectives and written with capital letters: the State, the Cartel, the Army, the Front.”
One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson. (Anchor) It was the summer of Charles Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight, the great Mississippi flood, Babe Ruth’s home run record and the first true “talking picture.” Bryson brings these fascinating events (and many others) splendidly to life.
Longbourn, by Jo Baker. (Vintage) Baker delightfully reimagines “Pride and Prejudice” from the perspective of the Bennets’ servants’ hall. While Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters fuss over balls and husbands, and the family’s respectable but rundown estate at Longbourn comes under threat, Sarah, their orphaned housemaid, chafes against the class and social strictures of her time.
What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, by Daniel Bergner. (Ecco/HarperCollins) In “The Other Side of Desire” (2009), Bergner looked thoughtfully at unusual sexual inclinations. Here he reconsiders long-held notions about female sexuality, drawing on interviews with scientists “puzzling out the ways of eros in women” and on the stories of ordinary women who discuss their sex lives and fantasies.
A Guide for the Perplexed, by Dara Horn. (Norton) Multiple narratives overlap in Horn’s fourth novel. In one, Josie Ashkenazi, a software prodigy, is abducted in Egypt’s post-revolutionary chaos – leaving her manipulative sister free to take over her life. (During her ordeal, Josie’s only anchor is a copy of the original “Guide for the Perplexed,” by the 12th-century philosopher Moses Maimonides.) In another thread, the 19th-century Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter hunts for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue.
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, by David Sedaris. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Amid satirical riffs on his famously antic family, his longtime partner and his health, politics, travels and childhood, Sedaris’ deeply satisfying essays “bring to mind Anthony Trollope, P.G. Wodehouse, Alice Munro and Woody Allen, sometimes in the same paragraph,” David Carr wrote in the New York Times Book Review.
Solo: A James Bond Novel, by William Boyd. (Harper Perennial99) In this powerful continuation, set in 1969, Ian Fleming’s formidable hero is touched by events in a war-torn West African country.
New York Times
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