Feature

Also of interest ... memories of youth

Bound by Antonya Nelson; Half a Life by Darin Strauss; Years of Red Dust by Qiu Xiaolong; My Father’s Places by Aeronwy Thomas

Boundby Antonya Nelson (Bloomsbury, $25)Antonya Nelson’s first novel in 10 years finds a middle-aged Midwestern woman sorting through fallout from her reckless adolescence, said Liesl Schillinger in The New York Times. Past and present mingle after the reformed protagonist is asked to adopt the teenage child of a wild former friend. The author is known for short stories, but “it’s a liberation to read Nelson here in the long form,” writing about her hometown of Wichita. “This America is her stage, and its characters are her people.”

Half a Lifeby Darin Strauss (McSweeney’s, $22)This memoir from novelist Darin Strauss begins unforgettably, said Karen R. Long in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Half my life ago, I killed a girl,” Strauss writes, before describing how, at 18, he fatally struck a 16-year-old girl with his car. With a “fine stripped-down style,” the author recounts his long struggle to accept responsibility and somehow expiate his guilt. “What might have been exploitative instead feels important, and dearly won.”

Years of Red Dustby Qiu Xiaolong (St. Martin’s, $25)“A moving work of mainstream fiction” from a well-known mystery author, this collection re-creates the Shanghai neighborhood where Qiu Xiaolong grew up, said Tom Nolan in The Wall Street Journal. Framed as “oral anecdotes,” his tales illuminate small incidents in the lives of a single street’s residents. Gradually, though, the settings shift forward in time, from the 1940s through China’s recent economic boom, to create a panorama of “ordinary folk whose lives are shaped by larger events.”

My Father’s Placesby Aeronwy Thomas (Skyhorse, $20)This memoir from the daughter of Dylan Thomas offers “an extraordinarily acute and pungent child’s-eye view” of the doomed poet’s final years, said Amanda Heller in The Boston Globe. Aeronwy Thomas, who died last year at 66, recalls her youth in rural Wales as “a topsy-turvy country idyll punctuated by flying crockery” and trips to the pub to fetch her alcoholic father. She was only 10 when he died, but in this book she vividly renders the “ambiguous gift of a bohemian childhood.”

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