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11 New Books We Recommend This Week


APEIROGON, by Colum McCann. (Random House, $28.) McCann’s virtuoso act of novel-making builds a wholly believable and infinitely faceted reality around the first-person accounts of two men, one Israeli and one Palestinian, who (in real life) both lost daughters to the violence in the Middle East. “The novel succeeds brilliantly at its larger project,” Julie Orringer writes in her review. “We’re forced to understand that history happens to actual human beings, to our children, to us. … Reading ‘Apeirogon,’ we move beyond an understanding of Rami and Bassam’s grief from the outside; we begin to share it.”

THE MERCIES, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. (Little, Brown, $27.) This unsparing, beautifully written novel takes as its subject the Vardo witch trials in 17th-century Norway, which even the infamous hysteria in Salem, Mass., several decades later could not match when it came to brutality. For such a book to center on a cast of powerful women characters seems as appropriate to its historical context as it is to our time. “Hargrave spares the reader no gory details, whether of birth, miscarriage or the scent of a body burning at the stake,” our reviewer, Emily Barton, writes. “‘The Mercies’ is among the best novels I’ve read in years. In addition to its beautiful writing, its subject matter is both enduring and timely.”

BLACK WAVE: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East, by Kim Ghattas. (Holt, $30.) Ghattas, a Lebanese-born journalist and scholar, takes a sweeping look at the unrest in the Middle East, arguing that much of it is the result of the competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran. “Too many in the West, she insists, wrongly attribute the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran to age-old theological differences between Sunnis and Shiites,” David D. Kirkpatrick writes in his review. “Instead of feuding over theology, Ghattas shows, Saudi Arabia and Iran transformed latent religious divisions into weapons wielded in the pursuit of political power, by cultivating and often arming sectarian militias across the region.”

DARK TOWERS: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Tale of Destruction, by David Enrich. (Custom House, $29.99.) Enrich compellingly shows how unchecked ambition twisted a pillar of German finance into a reckless casino where amorality and criminality thrived. “Name a banking scandal and Deutsche Bank was in the thick of it,” Roger Lowenstein writes in his review. “We will have to wait to see if Deutsche can recover from years of banking malpractice that destroyed its capital and wiped out 95 percent of its stock price. In the meantime, Enrich has given us a thorough, clearly written and generally levelheaded account of a bank that lost its way.”

OVERGROUND RAILROAD: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America, by Candacy Taylor. (Abrams, $35.) Taylor, a cultural documentarian, traveled to thousands of sites mentioned in the Green Book, the essential guidebook for black travelers braving American roads during Jim Crow. Highlighting threats such travelers faced, her lively, illustrated history is mindful of the ongoing struggle for black social mobility today. “In one revelatory chapter,” Bridgett M. Davis writes in her review, “Taylor deconstructs the mythology around Route 66, showing how that 2,440-mile road extending from Chicago to Los Angeles was a treacherous expanse of mostly segregated counties for black travelers, who didn’t have the luxury to ‘get your kicks on Route 66,’ the way white Americans did.”

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