[This monthly feature is a brief look at interesting upcoming books. These are not reviews, these are previews; we have not read these books. Follow Book Radar here. Click the title links to find more info about these books.]
McRaney’s first pop psychology book, You Are Not So Smart, was one of my favorite books of 2011. In it, McRaney wittily summarized the results of hundreds of psychology studies, which arrived at some pretty alarming conclusions, all basically along the same lines: that humans have a strong tendency to lie to themselves and each other in order to make sense of the world and their place in it. This follow-up has been out since Tuesday. I’m about a quarter of the way through it, and it seems to be more advanced, deliberate and detailed—and not quite as funny—but so far it’s certainly worth reading. My review should be out next week.
The preeminent living Haitian author has a new novel out, about a poor single father in Haiti who makes the agonizing decision to give away his daughter so that she can have a better life, but when he goes to find her that day, she’s disappeared. The search for her unearths painful secrets and memories, in a fable-like story. Danticat is known for her beautifully lyrical prose, and this sounds like a story to fit her best talents.
The critically acclaimed author of the wonderfully titled Special Topics in Calamity Physics returns with a new novel about the death—ruled a suicide—of a young woman whose father is a sinister mystery. When a journalist takes it upon himself to investigate, secrets emerge. Evidently it mixes postmodern literary sensibilities with mystery plotting, which also described her debut. Worth the risk, I think.
As a young, broke deli worker, Paterniti couldn’t afford even a morsel of what’s considered the world’s best cheese. Many years later, he fulfills his promise to himself to travel to the village where the cheese is made, and “wanders into—and eventually becomes deeply implicated in—the heart of an unfolding mystery, in which a village begins to spill its long-held secrets, and nothing is quite what it seems.” Sounds like one hell of a cheese-based story.
Michael Palin (of Monty Python) last published a novel in 1998. This one sounds less comical and more earnest than his cohort Eric Idle’s books, but possibly better because of that. It’s the story of a journalist trying to find a reclusive environmental activist, and retrieve his own sense of self-worth.
I have yet to read Barrett’s fiction but I’ve heard a lot of good things and this latest book is no different. In it, Barrett “unfolds five pivotal moments in the lives of her characters and in the history of knowledge.”
This one actually came out last month, but I missed it. I didn’t miss it, though, because I read the first book in this series and it was meaningless and empty, starring a curmudgeonly wet-blanket detective and never achieving any kind of satisfying entertainment-like result. Presumably this installment will pursue a subplot from the first book that involved the impending apocalypse, but I don’t have time to read a surely boring sequel that might or might not cash in on its unique premise, the only interesting thing about it. If you love the first season of The Killing (American version), then maybe give this a shot. Otherwise, avoid it at all costs.