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7 New Books We Recommend This Week

Category: Art & Culture,Books

AN AMERICAN SUMMER: Love and Death in Chicago, by Alex Kotlowitz. (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $27.95.) Kotlowitz’s detailed account of reckless brutality in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods probes the damage stemming from exposure to violence. He interviews an expansive cast of characters, including ordinary people whose lives have been shredded by bullets and guns. Our reviewer, Eric Klinenberg, calls it “a powerful indictment of a city and a nation that have failed to protect their most vulnerable residents, or to register the depth of their pain. … Kotlowitz aims to tell unforgettable stories about the afterlife of homicide, how it penetrates the minds, bodies and communities of those it touches. He succeeds.”

GOOD KIDS, BAD CITY: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America, by Kyle Swenson. (Picador, $29.) Swenson’s reporting for The Cleveland Scene, an alternative weekly newspaper, led to the exoneration of three men who served decades in prison after they were wrongfully convicted of murder in the 1970s. Here he expands that account to take in the larger circumstances behind their arrest. “It’s the story of a grave injustice, whose long-overdue correction delivers a strong emotional punch when it finally arrives,” Alec MacGillis writes in his review. “More broadly, it’s a story about negligence, about all the ways in which residents of cities such as Cleveland have been left abandoned by government and society at large. There’s so much talk these days about the great urban rebirth that the persistent struggles of non-superstar cities are too often overlooked. Swenson does a service simply by capturing the daily demoralization of existence in such a place.”

THE WALL, by John Lanchester. (Norton, $25.95.) After an environmental disaster renders much of the globe uninhabitable, Britain — largely unscathed — barricades itself inside a massive concrete barrier. Alec Nevala-Lee, reviewing Lanchester’s dystopian novel, calls it a “gripping” story, especially as it progresses: “The last hundred pages are full of tense action and sudden reversals that are mercifully unburdened by any allegorical significance,” Nevala-Lee writes. “The novel gathers momentum as it goes, and few readers will stop until they reach its final page.”

DAISY JONES & THE SIX, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. (Ballantine, $27.) This stylish and propulsive novel, presented in the form of an oral history, explores the ascent of a (fictional) hard-partying, iconic 1970s rock band. It reads like the transcript of a particularly juicy episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music.” Our reviewer, Eleanor Henderson, calls it “a mockumentary without the mocking,” and applauds it as Reid’s “most sophisticated and ambitious novel. … It’s easy to fall under the musical spell of these voices, which shift fluidly from speaker to speaker as the characters hand off the microphone. Reid has a great ear, both for the way people talk in interviews and for the music they describe.”

CHEROKEE AMERICA, by Margaret Verble. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27.) Verble, a voting member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, explores her heritage in this historical novel, a sprawling family saga that opens in 1875 and includes subplots about murder, politics, romance — and, always, Cherokee culture. “The pacing of the novel mimics the rhythm of a Cherokee neighborly visit,” Melissa Lenhardt writes in her review, and offers the same “joy and satisfaction in spending time with friends and family. That’s how you will feel about Check and the other characters by the end of the novel. You’re invested in them, their culture, their life. Verble has given historical fiction lovers a real gift: ‘Cherokee America’ is an excellent illustration of how diverse books enrich literature, and the minds of those who read them.”


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