Also of interest... in voices rescued from obscurity
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?
by Kathleen Collins (Ecco, $16)
It remains a “grievous loss to literature” that Kathleen Collins’ short fiction wasn’t published in her lifetime, said Richard Brody in NewYorker.com. We have 16 of her 1970s stories now, though, and their “urgent and deeply affecting” insights into the identity politics of the era “echo disturbingly today.” Collins was the first black woman to direct a feature-length drama, and many of her stories suggest film sketches—except that every detail counts. At times, “Collins’ very use of parentheses is artful.”
Chronicle of the Murdered House
by Lúcio Cardoso (Open Letter, $18)
This “gorgeous, deviant” melodrama represents a high point in Brazilian literature, said Danette Chavez in AVClub.com. Published in 1959 but only translated into English now, the 600-page epistolary novel chronicles the decline of a once-grand family who blame their ruin on the arrival of an heir’s vivacious young bride. Previous Brazilian authors had typically sought to celebrate their nation’s social consciousness; Lúcio Cardoso succeeded in depicting a social order “already past its expiration date.”
The Némirovsky Question
by Susan Rubin Suleiman (Yale, $35)
Was Irene Némirovsky a self-hating Jew? Susan Rubin Suleiman’s “measured, compelling” study of the French novelist urges empathy, said Diane Cole in The Wall Street Journal. Némirovsky, who died in Auschwitz, regained fame a decade ago on the strength of a rediscovered novel about Paris under Nazi occupation. But her earlier novels included disparaging caricatures of Jews, and Suleiman’s efforts put that work in context, “clarifying, without excusing,” the ugliest of it.
The Glass Universe
by Dava Sobel (Viking, $30)
Dava Sobel has written another wonderful book about the history of science, said Sue Nelson in Nature. Beginning in the 1870s, the Harvard Observatory depended for decades on a team of women to analyze the night sky using the institution’s enormous catalog of photographic plates. The women, known as computers, quietly unlocked many mysteries, and Sobel, the author of Longitude, has made several characters unforgettable. “By the time I finished The Glass Universe, it had moved me to tears.”