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Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America

James Poniewozik (Liveright)

Trump became “a cable news channel in human form: loud, short of attention span, and addicted to conflict,” writes New York Times television critic Poniewozik in this unique and witty analysis of how the fracturing of the TV landscape from the 1950s through the 2010s made the Trump presidency possible.


The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775–1777

Rick Atkinson (Holt)

This first installment in Pulitzer-winning historian Atkinson’s new trilogy is a sweeping yet gritty American Revolutionary epic. With granular detail and refreshingly unfamiliar characterizations—an uncertain George Washington, a thoughtful King George III, a valiant Benedict Arnold—he makes an oft-told national origin story new again.


Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

Mira Jacob (One World)

Disarming yet charming, witty but weighty, this debut graphic memoir by novelist Jacob (The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing) illustrates candid conversations with her inquisitive biracial son (who is obsessed with Michael Jackson) and other family and acquaintances on race, sex, death, and attempts to survive this political moment.


From the Shadows

Juan José Millás, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead and Daniel Hahn (Bellevue)

A page-turner of the strangest order, Millás takes readers on an absurdist ride into the psyche of Damián Lobo, a man who hides from a cop in a massive antique wardrobe, only to be transported inside to the home of a family. There, Damián becomes a ghostlike butler for the family during their daytime absences, only to slip back into the wardrobe at night.


Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS

Azadeh Moaveni (Random House)

Moaveni profiles young Muslim women who left home to join ISIS in Syria, where their romantic dreams met with the grim reality of marriages to abusive men. The vexing question of what happens to these women and their children now lingers over this visceral, deeply reported account.


The Man Who Saw Everything

Deborah Levy (Bloomsbury)

This playful, consistently surprising novel begins with young historian Saul Adler, who is preparing to write a paper about East Germany’s economic miracle, getting hit by a car on London’s Abbey Road in 1988, altering his entire life. Levy brilliantly plumbs the divide between the self and others, as Saul reluctantly acknowledges both his culpability in his own life’s tragedies and his insignificance in others’ narratives.


The Nickel Boys

Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

In Jim Crow–era Florida, high school student Elwood Curtis is erroneously detained by police before being sent to Nickel Academy, a juvenile reform school where the boys—especially the black boys—suffer from near-constant physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. Elwood befriends the cynical Turner, and their struggles to survive are interspersed with glimpses of Elwood’s adult life in Whitehead’s unforgettable examination of America’s history of violence.


Optic Nerve

María Gainza, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead (Catapult)

This phenomenal novel provides a portrait of a Buenos Aires woman named María by connecting episodes in her life to works of art she observes. Gainza explores the spaces between others, art, and the self, and how what one sees and knows forms the ineffable hodgepodge of the human soul.



Albert Woodfox, with Leslie George (Grove)

Framed for the 1972 murder of a correctional officer at Louisiana’s Angola prison, Woodfox, a member of the Black Panther Party, spent the next 40 years in solitary confinement. His enthralling memoir recounts how he survived with the help of two fellow Panthers, and makes a powerful case for prison reform.


Trust Exercise

Susan Choi (Holt)

Fifteen-year-old classmates Sarah and David have an intense sexual relationship at their performing arts high school. Then, after a string of decisive events, they become estranged. The novel shifts dramatically in its second part, casting most of what readers thought they knew into doubt. Choi boldly and ambitiously explores the long reverberations of adolescent experience, the complexities of consent and coercion, and the inherent unreliability of narratives.


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