Also of interest…
In family dramas
by Regina Porter (Hogarth, $27)
Though Regina Porter’s formally daring first novel “can feel too much like a jigsaw puzzle,” it achieves a “simply stunning” level of complexity, said Meng Jin in the San Francisco Chronicle. As the first-time novelist tells the stories of two Georgia families—one black, one white—she weaves together events from 1946 to 2010 while deftly shifting between play-like dialogue, straight narrative, and various other modes. Not one character is a mere extra, and the impressive result “looks very much like life.”
Native Country of the Heart
by Cherríe Moraga (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26)
“This memoir’s beauty is in its fierce intimacy,” said Roy Hoffman in The New York Times. Playwright Cherríe Moraga makes her mother the heroine of the book, bringing the late immigrant’s story to life “with a poet’s verve.” Mexican-born Elvira Moraga, who picked cotton in California at 11, sold cigarettes in Tijuana at 14, and never learned to read, became the heart and soul of a large extended family. Here, she’s a character too resonant to be merely emblematic.
Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane (Scribner, $27)
Mary Beth Keane’s new novel is “one of the most unpretentiously profound books I’ve read in a long time,” said Maureen Corrigan in NPR.org. In 1973 New York City, two rookie cops forge a friendship that shapes the lives of the Irish-American families they raise side by side in a nearby suburb. Because each chapter is told from a new perspective, we come to know almost every member of those families, and Keane “beautifully dramatizes” how lives are built on a series of happenstances, including tragic ones.
The Edge of Every Day
by Marin Sardy (Pantheon, $26)
Mental illness leaves no one in a family untouched, said Alison Van Houten in Outside. In a book whose nonlinear structure “mimics the erratic nature of schizophrenia,” essayist Marin Sardy describes how the disorder struck her mother and a brother, scrambling life for all the children. Her mother’s paranoid delusions disrupted their schooling; years later, Sardy’s brother, after refusing help, committed suicide. “How does one lead any semblance of a normal life under such circumstances?” Sardy shows us how.
Courtesy of the author, Clive Thompson ■