New in Paperback: ‘How We Fight for Our Lives’ and ‘Exhalation’


THE GIFTED SCHOOL, by Bruce Holsinger. (Riverhead, 560 pp., $17.) While this “suspenseful, laugh-out-loud page-turner” may go down “as easily as a gin and tonic on a summer day,” our reviewer, J. Courtney Sullivan, cautioned, winking at the elitism of “gifted and talented,” it’s ultimately “an incisive inspection of privilege, race and class,” and its takeaway is “damning.”

WILD GAME: My Mother, Her Secret, and Me, by Adrienne Brodeur. (Mariner, 272 pp., $16.99.) Brodeur was 14 when her “charismatic” food-writer mother enlisted her help in starting an affair with her beloved stepfather’s best friend. Her “deeply insightful” memoir, according to our reviewer, Emily Rapp Black, sheds light on the “primal and powerful” nature of maternal love and a daughter’s need to become “a different kind of partner, person and parent.”

HOW WE FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES, by Saeed Jones. (Simon & Schuster, 224 pp., $17.) In this “bracingly honest” memoir, unlike on Twitter (where he’s a self-described “caustic” presence), the award-winning poet isn’t interested in “score-settling,” as our reviewer, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, put it. Here, when he looks at a man who assaulted him, he sees someone who thought he was “fighting for his life.”

GODS OF THE UPPER AIR: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century, by Charles King. (Anchor, 480 pp., $17.) This “resolutely humane book,” the Times critic Jennifer Szalai noted, takes its title from Zora Neale Hurston, who contrasted the indiscriminate weather visited on us all by “gods of the upper air” with the bigotry of “gods of the pigeonholes.”

COSTALEGRE: A Novel Inspired by Peggy Guggenheim and Her Daughter, by Courtney Maum. (Tin House, 240 pp., $15.95.) Leonora Calaway, an American heiress modeled on the art patron Peggy Guggenheim, and her 15-year-old “overshadowed” daughter, Lara, modeled on Peggy’s daughter, Pegeen, gather in the Mexican jungle on the brink of World War II with a band of not-yet-famous European artists as they nervously await the boat bringing their work. Our reviewer, Mona Simpson, called this comic novel “delightful.”

EXHALATION: Stories, by Ted Chiang. (Vintage, 368 pp., $16.95.) This “carefully curated” collection of nine “beautiful” stories, our reviewer, Amal El-Mohtar, wrote, many of which explore the “material consequences” of time travel, was one of the Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2019.

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