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Aria

Exploring motherhood and personal relationships as well as the chaotic upheavals in revolutionary Tehran, this debut offers a powerful lead character in Aria. But its minor characters are just as memorable, with the narrative revealing how their circumstances have shaped their personalities. Highly recommended, especially for book groups.
PREMIUM

The Bass Rock

A Granta Best of Young British Novelists, Wyld (All the Birds, Singing) has proved herself in the past, but there’s a patchiness to the multiple strands of her current work, as past and present mix with vignettes about ghosts, rape and murder. In the end, the parts of this chilling novel—particularly the “Masterpiece Theatre” paced postwar story
PREMIUM

Lon Chaney Speaks

Dorian evokes Chaney’s personality in richly detailed scenes made even more impressive by the fact that an introductory note stresses that his subject’s extreme aversion to divulging details of his private life necessitated that this be “an imagined biography…inspired by real events and research.”
PREMIUM

The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle over Same-Sex Marriage

A comprehensive work of civil rights history that is sure to interest political and legal enthusiasts.
PREMIUM

Summer

Set partly in the astonishing Coronavirus/George Floyd present and partly in the World War I era of Resistance France and prison-camp England, Smith’s latest is suffused with the warmth of a more hopeful future and brings her quartet to a satisfying conclusion.
PREMIUM

Payback

Award winner Gordon (Final Payments) stacks the deck a bit too much in Agnes’s favor, making her eminently likable and sympathetic, despite her undeniable privilege. Heidi/Quin is the clear villain. The moral dilemma could have been more evenhanded, although perhaps that would have undercut Gordon’s aim of indicting the glorification of meanness that has seeped into contemporary American culture.
PREMIUM

Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It

Recommended as a note of encouragement or a roadmap for legal and political organizing for environmentally concerned citizens.
PREMIUM

Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved To Do Is Healthy and Rewarding

Lieberman writes in a clear, approachable style, even when explaining complex research and concepts. Recommended for collections where either exercise science or human evolution are popular subjects.
PREMIUM

The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time

A work of poetic science, a smashing together of the human and the natural world, of cultures separated by time. Just as a geologic unconformity, this is erudite and artistic.
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