10 New Books We Recommend This Week


SHADOWPLAY, by Joseph O’Connor. (Europa, $26.) In this vibrantly imaginative narrative of passion, intrigue and literary ambition, set in the garish heyday of a Victorian-era British theater company and artfully splicing truth with fantasy, O’Connor revisits the events and relationships that inspired Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Reviewing it, Miranda Seymour applauds O’Connor’s exploration of the shadows he alludes to in his title: “Throughout this vivid re-creation of one of the most fascinating and neglected episodes in the enticingly murky history of the Gothic novel, the storyteller keeps his reader deliciously in the dark.”

DMZ COLONY, by Don Mee Choi. (Wave, cloth, $35; paper, $20.) Using a variety of modes — including prose blocks, verse, something like a short absurdist play, sketches, photos and images of handwritten Korean characters on ruled paper — the author, a poet and translator, documents political torture and other costs of colonialism. “The opening passages are written in a flat, approachable dispatch style,” Elisa Gabbert writes in her latest poetry column, “but then we’re defamiliarized and jolted by the entrance of a ‘Mr. Ahn,’ ‘a political prisoner from 1953 to 1995’ whom Choi visits in his village just south of the DMZ. … The following 17 pages are a mixture of his oral testimony (reminiscent of Svetlana Alexievich’s work with Chernobyl survivors) and her own scribbles,” which “stand in for the unspeakable. … Perhaps they say, our rage and grief are not in excess. It’s excess as a corrective.”

WHAT’S LEFT OF ME IS YOURS, by Stephanie Scott. (Doubleday, $26.95.) Inspired by a Japanese murder trial involving a “wakaresaseya,” or “breaker-upper” — in this case a man paid by a husband to seduce his wife, in order to facilitate a divorce — Scott’s richly imagined novel considers the many permutations of love and what we are capable of doing in its name. “Scott deftly exposes how life-limiting even the most well-intentioned lies can be, especially for women in a society that remains as patriarchal as Japan’s,” Tobias Grey writes in his review. “Each chapter of this enrapturing novel is elegantly brief and charged with barely contained emotion. Yet Scott’s subject remains vast.”

A SHORT MOVE, by Katherine Hill. (Ig Publishing, paper, $16.95.) Hill’s breakneck novel hurtles impressively through the life of a football prodigy, a gifted linebacker who turns pro. Instead of dramatic play-by-play and hackneyed triumph, Hill gives us the more quotidian moments that come after the game, between seasons, after the sun of youth sets. “This is definitely a good book for football fans,” Bill Roorbach writes in his review. “But it’s a great book for fans of men and boys, so many of them caught up in the dark world of dreams come true.”

SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN, by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru. (DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults, paper, $16.99.) Yang, a star writer of graphic novels for young people, adapts a 1946 Superman story that has the caped hero taking on violent bigots after they harass a Chinese-American family in a white neighborhood. “Yang’s sensitivity to the social and political dynamics of difference and assimilation injects the story line with new life and resonance,” Hillary Chute writes in her latest Graphic Content column. “It is to Yang’s great credit that almost all of the characters, including a boy whose racist uncle instigates the burning of a cross on the Lees’ lawn, feel complex. … The book tackles perhaps predictable conflicts, but then deepens with every turn.”

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