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FICTION: A couple's twin memoirs generate more heat than light. "A Previous Life" by Edmund White; Bloomsbury (288 pages, $26) ——— He's handsome, wealthy, athletic, highly intelligent (as he reminds us frequently), multilingual, sexually irresistible, musically gifted. Ruggero, the bisexual Sicilian harpsichordist at the center of "A Previous Life," the newest novel by Edmund White, is also, ...

Intricately enmeshed stories examine personal ties between families in China and the United States over the past 50 years. "Thank You, Mr. Nixon" by Gish Jen; Alfred A. Knopf (272 pages, $28) (In bookstores Feb. 1.) ——— "Thank You, Mr. Nixon," Gish Jen's first collection of short fiction in more than 20 years, is a jewel box of creativity and a joy to uncover. Across 11 synergistic stories ...

If you're planning to read a book, who cares how long it takes to read it? Who's keeping score? Raise your hand if you've said these words: "I want to read that book, but it's too long!" I've said this myself, even though it reflects a sentiment that makes no sense, when you think about it. If you're planning to read a book, who cares how long it takes to read it? Who cares if you spend six ...

MINNEAPOLIS — In 2007, after the death of his grandfather, Sequoia Nagamatsu flew off to Japan, where he had never been, to teach English and to grieve. It was there that he started writing. "My grandfather's death had a profound impact on me," Nagamatsu said in a recent interview from his home in Minneapolis. "I wasn't really able to say goodbye." In Japan, he was surrounded by reminders of ...

It’s a shame that you don’t know Gary Paulsen, that his name was never as recognizable as a Beverly Cleary (“Ramona the Pest”) or an Eric Carle (“The Very Hungry Caterpillar”), all of whom wrote books for children and all of whom died last year. At least, I’m assuming you’ve never heard of Gary Paulsen. It’s a big assumption. His books sold more than 35 million copies, and if you came of age ...

In this retelling of the myth of Apollo and Daphne, author Mark Prins has written an engrossing psychological thriller. "The Latinist" by Mark Prins; W.W. Norton (352 pages, $26.95) ——— The cover of Mark Prins' sparky but flawed debut novel, "The Latinist," depicts in lurid colors Italian baroque sculptor Bernini's celebrated statue of Apollo and Daphne. The effect jars with the ...

Evison deftly weaves stories of the present and the past, illustrating how all of our lives and futures are linked together. "Small World" by Jonathan Evison; Dutton (480 pages, $28) ——— The passengers aboard the Amtrak Coast Starlight are all bound for Seattle. Strangers on a train, they will all be affected by an accident that will derail plans and upend lives. Jonathan Evison's "Small ...

Ulrich Boschwitz wrote his novel about a German Jew on the run in the days after Kristallnacht. One day last March, former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz opened his Wall Street Journal to find a review of a book that had been written by his cousin Ulrich. His cousin, who he hadn't known was a writer. His cousin, who had died in 1942. "I was startled when it appeared," Rudy said. "I had never heard ...

Sequoia Nagamatsu's debut novel, "How High We Go in the Dark," blends speculative and literary fiction to offer a bleak yet hopeful glimpse of humanity's potential futures. "How High We Go in the Dark" by Sequoia Nagamatsu; William Morrow (304 pages, $27.99) ——— Early in 2020, in an interview with the BBC, sci-fi writer William Gibson observed that "All through the 20th century we constantly ...

What does it take for one British-Nigerian woman to find a date to her cousin's wedding? A lot, apparently. "Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?" by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn; Pamela Dorman Books (384 pages, $26) ——— If Lizzie Damilola Blackburn's debut novel, "Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?," was to become a TV sitcom, it could run episode after episode, season after season, without losing steam on ...

The Bucci sisters were 4 and 6 when they were sent to Auschwitz. "Always Remember Your Name" by Andra and Tatiana Bucci, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein; Astra House (171 pages, $25) ——— The first book I reviewed for the Star Tribune documented the life of Mildred Harnack, the only American to lead a Nazi-resistance group in Germany during World War II. Tragically, she was ...

A deeply moving cri de coeur about the power of love to fight despair. "To Paradise" by Hanya Yanagihara; Doubleday (720 pages, $32.50) ——— "To Paradise," Hanya Yanagihara's ambitious follow-up to "A Little Life," a National Book Award finalist, is an epic in size and scope. The novel is divided into three books, each featuring characters with the same names living in the same house in New ...

Why, I ask myself, do I have such an absurd number of books? We had a friend over for dinner the other night. Even though we are all fully vaccinated, it felt a little risky, but this was a rare balmy winter evening so we sat on the drafty three-season porch for a while and then moved in by the fire, with a window cracked. My husband and I had done the requisite tidying up — dusting, ...

"The Unfamiliar Garden," the second novel in Benjamin Percy's speculative fiction series "Comet Cycle," begins with the mysterious disappearance of a child, Mia, in a forest outside Seattle. Right about that time, a comet shoots past Earth, emitting a strange fungus that begins to absorb plants, animals and humans. (And Mia? Maybe. But maybe not.) Percy's novel defies categorization — part ...

Jean Chen Ho's virtuosic debut collection of short stories follows relationships over three decades. "Fiona and Jane" by Jean Chen Ho; Viking (288 pages, $26) ——— Fiona and Jane, the dual protagonists of Jean Chen Ho's virtuosic debut collection of short stories, have been best friends since second grade. In alternating perspectives, the book follows the arc of their relationship over three ...

A heartfelt tale about a mother and daughter separated in parallel universes brought about by the power of language. "Present Tense Machine" by Gunnhild Øyehaug, translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson; Farrar, Straus & Giroux (176 pages, $25) ——— On May 30, 2020, German pianist Igor Levit sat down in an empty studio to play Erik Satie's "Vexations," a marathon work comprising 840 ...

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