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FICTION: A shocking and hilarious novel about a mother who embarks on a bizarre trip. "I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness" by Claire Vaye Watkins; Riverhead (290 pages, $27) ——— Motherhood, we're told, is a miracle, a blessing, a gift. That's the unmistakable message that the mass media have hammered home for decades — women who give birth are expected to be grateful, uncomplaining, never ...

FICTION: In Elizabeth Strout's latest novel, the character of Lucy Barton returns and tries to understand her attachment to her troubled ex-husband. "Oh William!" by Elizabeth Strout; Random House (256 pages, $27) ——— The latest novel from Elizabeth Strout may be named for a man, but at its heart is a woman trying to tell us something about herself. In "Oh William!," Lucy Barton, the narrator ...

FICTION: In this dark but witty satire, Percival Everett explores racism, vengeance and the horrors of lynching. "The Trees" by Percival Everett; Graywolf Press (308 pages, $16) ——— Trees, when left unmolested, typically enjoy a long life span. Imagine if trees in the United States, particularly in the South, could speak. Many might tell us of something sinister they got roped into — literally ...

NONFICTION: Three union workers whose factory closes illustrate the challenges for America's blue-collar workforce. "American Made" by Farah Stockman; Random House (418 pages, $28) ——— In 1997, when the Red River Valley overflowed its banks and flooded most of Grand Forks, North Dakota, I watched then-President Bill Clinton give an empathetic speech to flood victims at an Air Force base ...

FICTION: A wealthy playboy is found murdered during a writers festival, and the line of suspects is long. "A Line to Kill" by Anthony Horowitz; Harper (375 pages, $27.99) ——— Like any good mystery, Anthony Horowitz's "A Line to Kill" has a gripping story, quirky characters who might be devious or might be innocent, a twisty plot, an enigmatic detective and a memorable setting. But it also has ...

At age 38, with a toddler son and a thickening waistline, Katherine May makes the decision to hike the 630-mile South West Coast Path in England, a rugged trail that "clings as close to this island's crinkled edge as possible; so close, in fact, that chunks of it regularly fall into the sea." She will hike in stages, she decides, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend. She will finish before ...

The author of "A Gentleman in Moscow" talks about how he set the stage for his new 1950s-set adventure. Amor Towles' novels, including the bestseller "A Gentleman in Moscow" and his new "The Lincoln Highway," are so distinctive that they read like the works of different writers. In a way, they are. Towles resets each time he starts a new book. He always has several potential novels percolating ...

NONFICTION: A quarter-century of essays about animals and their humans from one of America's most noted animal lovers. "On Animals" by Susan Orlean; Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster (288 pages, $27) ——— You can tell when the person you're talking to is passionate about a subject. Their eyes sparkle. Their speech pattern changes, either slowing down to make sure you don't miss a detail, or ...

NONFICTION: Grover's new memoir is a blend of Ojibwe stories, myth and family history. "Gichigami Hearts" by Linda LeGarde Grover; University of Minnesota Press (145 pages, $14.95) ——— "Can you see there's a house down there, about a block on the other side of the bridge?" Linda LeGarde Grover's Aunt Carol asks, as the two sit at a campfire at a powwow in Duluth. "Did you know that house was ...

MIDDLE-GRADE: Minneapolis author Anne Ursu tackles questions of privilege and power in this feminist fairy tale. "The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy" by Anne Ursu; Walden Pond Press (432 pages, $16.99) ——— In the kingdom of Illyria, boys are groomed from a young age to be sorcerers — one of the land's most powerful roles — while girls are taught to conform to a rigid, secondary role. The ...

NONFICTION: The many contradictions of Oscar Wilde are captured in this captivating biography. "Oscar Wilde: A Life" by Matthew Sturgis; Alfred A. Knopf (864 pages, $40) ——— If Oscar Wilde had behaved himself, he would be little remembered today. His poetry has been mostly forgotten; his witty plays are a staple of the community theater circuit, but they don't achieve the high watermark of ...

FICTION: Religious idealism confronts a fractured family in Jonathan Franzen's sprawling new novel. "Crossroads" by Jonathan Franzen; Farrar, Straus & Giroux (592 pages, $28) ——— Even with God on their side, the Hildebrandt family at the center of Jonathan Franzen's intermittently powerful new novel are far from redeemed. They live in the Chicago suburb of New Prospect, which despite its name ...

FICTION: Brothers take to the road in the latest novel from Amor Towles. "The Lincoln Highway" by Amor Towles; Viking (592 pages, $30) ——— Amor Towles' follow-up to his bestselling book "A Gentleman in Moscow" arrives on a wave of anticipation, at a time when we long for simpler days. Set in 1950s America, "The Lincoln Highway" is a road novel that celebrates the mythos of an era via a ...

FICTION: Inanimate objects speak in this thought-provoking novel. "The Book of Form and Emptiness" by Ruth Ozeki; Viking (560 pages, $30) ——— Early in "The Book of Form and Emptiness," Ruth Ozeki's heady new novel, an off-course bird bangs into a classroom window: "THWACK!" The middle schoolers are stunned. One is particularly upset. Benny Oh approaches the glass. He whispers to it, then ...

FICTION: A discovery in an old trunk leads to a life-changing trip. "Sankofa" by Chibundu Onuzo; Catapult (304 pages, $26) ——— Chibundu Onuzo's third novel, "Sankofa," opens in a voice and style that are unfamiliar — at least to this reader of her previous novels. The writing is clipped and mostly stripped of excess. Because the story is told from the first-person point of view — the ...

NONFICTION: Mark Gustafson's exhaustive nonfiction study examines the literary life and legacy of Minnesota poet Robert Bly. "Born Under the Sign of Odin" by Mark Gustafson; Nodin Press (368 pages, $19.95) ——— In its heyday, the pugnacious and politically witty literary magazine The Fifties became notorious for its personalized rejection slips, which tended toward sarcasm and bordered on rude. ...

FICTION: A profoundly affecting story of the lives upended when a man loses his ability to communicate clearly. "Lean Fall Stand" by Jon McGregor; Catapult (288 pages, $26) ——— The novels of British author Jon McGregor are distinguished by their enlightening perceptions of both human nature and Mother Nature, and by their restrained prose, as potent as it is subtle. His latest, "Lean Fall ...

FICTION: A quietly dazzling novel that focuses on the last three years in the life of artist Edouard Manet. "The Lost Notebook of Edouard Manet" by Maureen Gibbon; W.W. Norton (393 pages, $17.95) ——— Like many a tradition-breaking artist, Edouard Manet — "the first of the moderns" — was misunderstood, even vilified, in his own time. His bold manner with paint was bad enough (Slapdash! ...

FICTION: Anthony Doerr's follow-up to his Pulitzer winner is bigger and more ambitious. "Cloud Cuckoo Land" by Anthony Doerr; Scribner (626 pages, $30) ——— Think of Anthony Doerr's new novel as "All the Plot Connections You Cannot See." Like Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning "All the Light You Cannot See," his "Cloud Cuckoo Land" includes two characters — on opposite sides of a war, divided by a ...

MIDDLE GRADE: A novel about friendship, fortitude and the power of story. "The Beatryce Prophecy" by: Kate DiCamillo; Candlewick Press (247 pages, $19.99) ——— If it's true that all great writers have just one story to tell, then Kate DiCamillo has found dozens of ways to gracefully tell hers. As with "Because of Winn-Dixie," "Raymie Nightingale" and many others, her new novel is the story of a ...

Let's face it, some states are more evocative than others — take North Carolina. So many Americans of all ethnicities have ties to its cities and natural areas — the Appalachians, the Piedmont area, the coastal marshes and beaches. Wiley Cash, writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, has written three exceptionally fine novels set in his home state ("The Last Ballad," ...

Poet Amanda Gorman had her sights set on the White House long before it tapped her to help inaugurate President Joe Biden. Her own presidential aspirations started when she was just a hair into her second decade. “I remember being around 11 years old, and I was in class talking very passionately as I do about things I wanted to change in the world,” the nation’s first youth poet laureate, 23, ...

FICTION: A deeply moving story about an astrobiologist and his young son, anguished by the state of the planet. "Bewilderment" by Richard Powers; W.W. Norton (288 pages, $27.95) ——— As he did in his Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Overstory" — which the Financial Times called a "Great American Eco-Novel" — Richard Powers takes up the life of the natural world and its suffering at human hands in ...

NONFICTION: A timely chance to think about freedom not as a state but a practice. "On Freedom" by Maggie Nelson; Graywolf Press (288 pages, $27) ——— Given that Maggie Nelson is known for expanding categories and defying the expectations of genre, it's little wonder, perhaps, that her latest book, the subtle yet wide-ranging "On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint," would take as its ...

NONFICTION: An ornery, broken-down, used-up man and an ornery, broken-down, used-up dog find each other. "The Speckled Beauty" by Rick Bragg; Alfred A. Knopf (238 pages, $26) ——— Those of us with city dogs (what Rick Bragg calls "fancy dog people") might be aghast to read about the life of Speck, the rambunctious, mostly untrained, free-ranging and always-spoiling-for-a-fight rescue dog that ...

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