Do you need a new paperback this week? You might! Here are a half-dozen good options.
"America Is Not the Heart" by Elaine Castillo (Penguin, $17). "The issue of belonging, common to our times, is one of the preoccupations of Castillo's poignant and emotionally complex novel," wrote Seattle Times reviewer Bharti Kirchner last year. The debut novel from its San Francisco-based author, "America Is Not the Heart" is a multigenerational family saga set in the Philippines and California.
"Washington Black" by Esi Edugyan (Vintage, $16.95). Edugyan's much-honored third novel (it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was one of The New York Times top 10 books of the year) is the story of young George Washington Black, a field slave on a Barbados plantation whose life changes when an eccentric abolitionist chooses him for his manservant. Seattle Times reviewer Michael Upchurch wrote, "Edugyan is a marvelous writer – lyrical, fanciful, subtle, fond of paradox – and 'Washington Black' reads like a picaresque epic laced with persistent threat."
"The Great Pretenders" by Laura Kalpakian (Berkley, $16). Kalpakian, a Bellingham-based author whose previous works have won a Pushcart Prize and two Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association awards, here explores the world of Old Hollywood, with a novel about a female film agent who fights for blacklisted screenwriters in the McCarthy era. She'll be in town to discuss the book at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Seattle (206-366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com).
"Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History" by Keith O'Brien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $15.99). Women's History Month may be over, but any month might be a good time to read this nonfiction account of five groundbreaking aviators, only one of whose name – Amelia Earhart – will be familiar. Publishers Weekly wrote, "This fast-paced, meticulously researched history will appeal to a wide audience both as an entertaining tale of bravery and as an insightful look at early aviation."
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje (Vintage, $16.95). The inaugural meeting last month of my very own Seattle Times Book Club had a grand time discussing this book, an elegant (if occasionally opaque) tale of a young brother and sister in wartime London. "This was one of those books I didn't want to end, so took it slow and savored," wrote one book-club member, "trusting the author to reveal mysteries when they needed to be."
"The Overstory" by Richard Powers (Norton, $18.95). "The 'Overstory' moves the way an open field evolves into a thick forest: slowly, then inevitably," wrote Washington Post book reviewer Ron Charles of Powers' epic novel, which has at its center the history of trees. The book, another Man Booker Prize finalist, "soars up through the canopy of American literature and remakes the landscape of environmental fiction."