The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
by Bob Shacochis (Grove/Atlantic, $28)
There are spies galore in this monumental novel, but “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is a spy novel the way Moby-Dick is a fishing tale,” said Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Leaping from 1940s Croatia to 1990s Haiti to 1980s Istanbul, National Book Award winner Bob Shacochis turns a story about a foreign-born U.S. spymaster and his brilliant daughter into a profound meditation on the American soul. It’s a dizzyingly complex tale, yet “always so captivating that you don’t dare fall behind.”
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On the Trail of Genghis Khan
by Tim Cope (Bloomsbury, $30)
There are plenty of fine adventure memoirs, but this book “puts almost all of them to shame,” said Nicholas Mancusi in TheDailyBeast.com. Explorer Tim Cope spent three years traveling alone on horseback while retracing Genghis Khan’s 6,000-mile trek from Mongolia to Hungary. Cope’s horses were stolen more than once, yet he persevered through countless challenges. “It’s a shame that the word ‘epic’ has been so degraded by overuse, because it must be employed here.”
Ninety Percent of Everything
by Rose George (Metropolitan, $28)
This isn’t just a story about the global shipping industry, said John McMurtrie in the San Francisco Chronicle. Journalist Rose George makes every detail about the business compelling, but the heart of her “engrossing and revelatory” book is the five-week journey she takes on a cargo vessel bound for Singapore. “With great empathy and self-effacing humor,” George brings to life her experience and that of the stoic crew. The book’s only downside? “It comes to an end too soon.”
The Childhood of Jesus
by J.M. Coetzee (Viking, $27)
Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee “writes from his head more than his heart,” said David L. Ulin in the Los Angeles Times. His latest novel is an “eerie, tautly written” allegory that follows a man and a boy—named David, not Jesus—who are searching for the boy’s mother in a land where memories are forbidden. But the characters “are less living flesh-and-blood than signifiers of some idea,” and though this book raises important questions, “it ultimately falls prey to the emptiness it describes.”
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