The People’s Republic Of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited by Louisa Lim. (Oxford University) China’s profound and rapid metamorphosis has effectively excised the events of Tiananmen Square from official memory, yet the demonstrations and their aftermath continue to exert a quiet, potent impact. Lim’s reporting turns up deeply affecting stories from individuals affected by the turmoil and violence of 1989 and intersperses them with a historical account of the protests.
The First Bad Man by Miranda July. (Scribner) Cheryl, the timid heroine of this novel, had devised an intricate maze of self-regulatory behaviors until Clee, an expansive and brash young woman, comes to live with her. Overcome with disdain for Cheryl’s mode of existence, Clee begins to physically abuse her host. Jolted out of docility, Cheryl fights back, and the women’s sparring evolves into an erotic relationship. Pairing eccentricity with grit, July, a noted filmmaker and performance artist, is “exceptional at tracing the imaginative contours of sexuality,” Lauren Groff wrote in The Times.
Joan Of Arc: A Life Transfigured by Kathryn Harrison. (Anchor) The Maid of Orléans (circa 1412-31) has captivated admirers and skeptics alike over the past six centuries, giving rise to interpretations based on her faith, sexuality and military acumen. Encompassing Joan’s rise to power, denunciation and eventual canonization in 1920, Harrison approaches her subject through a spiritual lens, drawing parallels between Joan and Christ.
High As The Horses’ Bridles by Scott Cheshire. (Picador, $16.) At the outset of this powerful debut novel, 12-year-old Josiah Laudermilk, hailed as a child prophet by his church, prepares to address a crowd of fervent, apocalyptic believers in 1980s Queens. The story picks up years later as Josiah, who has abandoned his faith, returns to New York to care for his ailing father.
Fire Shut Up In My Bones: A Memoir by Charles M. Blow. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.) Reflecting on growing up in small-town Louisiana, his turbulent college years and the beginning of his journalistic career, the New York Times columnist recounts how he let go of rage stemming from childhood. Reviewer Patricia J. Williams praised Blow’s handling of fraught topics, writing that “conflicts central to humanity are reconfigured here as fields of simple possibility.”
Let Me Be Frank With You: A Frank Bascombe Book by Richard Ford. (Ecco/HarperCollins) The fourth installment of Ford’s series finds the affable hero in his 60s, retired and surveying the wreckage that Hurricane Sandy left in his longtime home state, New Jersey.
American Catch: The Fight For Our Local Seafood by Paul Greenberg. (Penguin, $17.) Using the fates of three emblematic catches (eastern oysters, Gulf shrimp and sockeye salmon) Greenberg shows how America, a “nation of coasts,” has damaged its aquatic ecosystems and offers solutions for reforming the way the country consumes seafood.
New York Times