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Also of interest...new work from old literary favorites

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje; Nightwoods by Charles Frazier; Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks; We Others by Steven Millhauser

The Cat’s Tableby Michael Ondaatje (Knopf, $26)Michael Ondaatje’s latest “is, in the most etymological way, a wonderful novel,” said Philip Hensher in the London Telegraph. Set on a cruise ship in the 1950s, it unfolds its wonders by exploring every stateroom and hold from the wide-eyed perspective of Michael, a Ceylonese boy making the long first trip to his new school in Britain. Michael bonds with two other boys, and at night, the trio prowl the decks in search of adventure. “The enchantments wash over the reader in waves.”

Nightwoodsby Charles Frazier (Random House, $26)“Sorry, haters,” but the author of Cold Mountain is not the overhyped pretender you hoped he might be, said Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Charles Frazier may have been wildly overpaid for the disappointing 2006 follow-up to his award-winning, best-selling debut. But this third novel, set in 1960s Appalachia, “is a fantastic book.” A “cleverly knitted thriller” about a reclusive young woman forced to shield a pair of strange twins from a violent pursuer, it’s wry at times and “superbly paced.”

Lost Memory of Skinby Russell Banks (Ecco, $26)The “unlikely protagonist” of Russell Banks’s new novel is a young ex-soldier who lives under a Florida causeway because he and his shantytown neighbors are convicted sex offenders, said Linda Elisabeth Beattie in the Louisville Courier-Journal. We get to know “the Kid” through his relationship with a sociologist whose intervention greatly complicates the young man’s life. Throughout, Banks writes “with empathy, clarity, and humor about how we diminish ourselves by isolating the disenfranchised.”

We Othersby Steven Millhauser (Knopf, $27)This collection of new and selected older stories from Steven Millhauser showcases the Pulitzer Prize winner’s diverse gifts, said Dale Singer in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “In stories ranging from historical to modern, magical to realistic, serious to satiric, his masterful prose style slowly but inevitably weaves narratives that work their way into your consciousness and remain long after you’ve turned the last page.” The only thing a reader could wish for is more stories that weren’t available elsewhere before.

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