Book Review: ‘A Previous Life,’ by Edmund White

Set in 2050, after its author has died, “A Previous Life” is a metafictional comedy about literature and sex.


Weike Wang’s Antisocial Novel, ‘Joan Is Okay’

The author of “Chemistry” returns with a wry and awkward heroine who prefers the company of machines to her fellow humans.


Seeking Enlightenment, He Disappeared Into a Hiker’s Bermuda Triangle

In “Lost in the Valley of Death,” Harley Rustad follows the long and winding road that led Justin Alexander Shetler to India’s Parvati Valley.


The Cult of Saint Joan

Daphne Merkin examines her complicated feelings about Joan Didion’s writing, iconic status and legacy.


Before He Died, the Writer Roberto Calasso Had the Old Testament on His Mind

In “The Book of All Books,” the great Italian polymath offers his interpretation of biblical stories.


They Wanted to Write the History of Modern China. But How?

In the historian Jing Tsu’s “Kingdom of Characters,” the evolution of Chinese writing tells the story of the country’s past, present — and future.


9 New Books We Recommend This Week

Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times.


Robert Gottlieb on ‘Garbo’ and ‘Babbitt’

Gottlieb talks about his own new biography and the work of Sinclair Lewis, and Carl Bernstein discusses “Chasing History.”


Tom McCarthy Thinks the Wrong Kurt Vonnegut Book Is Famous

“I was really disappointed when I read ‘Slaughterhouse-Five,’” says the author of “The Making of Incarnation” and other novels. “But then I read his ‘Mother Night,’ and thought it was brilliant.”


In a Virus-Stricken Future, Humanity Endures Amid the Grief

Sequoia Nagamatsu’s debut novel, “How High We Go in the Dark,” is an expansive mosaic set in the wake of a devastating virus.


A Recovery Journey That Isn’t

David Sanchez’ debut novel, “All Day Is a Long Time,” paints a kaleidoscopic portrait of life with addiction.


The Too-Short Evolution of Mac Miller

“Most Dope,” a biography by Paul Cantor, offers a tender remembrance of a precocious talent.


Two High-Powered Black Attorneys Confront a Justice System’s Flaws

“Just Pursuit,” by Laura Coates, a former federal prosecutor, and “The Rage of Innocence,” by Kristin Henning, a longtime juvenile defense lawyer, detail the moral quandaries and bias they encountered in their work.


The Chinese Language Revolution

Jing Tsu talks about “Kingdom of Characters,” and Kathryn Schulz discusses “Lost and Found.”


Two Novelists, Avi and Brian Farrey, Use Fiction to Show Kids Why Facts Matter

“Loyalty” and “The Counterclockwise Heart” — set in 1774 Boston and a fairy-tale kingdom divided against itself — explore how misinformation stokes fear and incites violence.


Four New Crime Novels

Stephen Hunter’s new novel, “Targeted,” features the retired Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger — who’s still a crack shot — in his 12th adventure.


From Blood and Phlegm to Alcohol and Defenestration, Novels of Heartache

Fiction by Mina Seçkin, Lisa Harding, Neel Patel and Renée Branum tells of transnational family and loss.


New in Paperback: ‘Harlem Shadows’ and ‘The Black Church’

Six new paperbacks to check out this week.


Heroic Outcasts Who Reshaped America

James R. Gaines’s “The Fifties” describes a decade when opposition to a stifling national consensus was costly and courageous.


11 New Books We Recommend This Week

Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times.


These Old Hands Have Written New Best Sellers

What do Jacqueline Woodson and Elizabeth George have in common? They’re both veteran authors whose books fly off the shelves.


They Made the Most of the Opioid Crisis. Until They Didn’t.

In “The Hard Sell,” the journalist Evan Hughes tells the story of the rise and fall of Insys Therapeutics — and the larger pharmaceutical industry.


Thoreau, Emerson and the Town Where Their Thoughts Took Root

“The Transcendentalists and Their World,” by Robert A. Gross, focuses on Concord, Mass.


How the English Language Conquered the World

Rosemary Salomone’s “The Rise of English” looks at the economic, social and cultural impact of English around the world.


Is Civil War Coming to America?

Two books, “How Civil Wars Start,” by Barbara F. Walter, and “The Next Civil War,” by Stephen Marche, examine if the United States is facing upheaval.

 

How a Nostalgic Novel About Spain’s Heartland Joined the Political Fray

Ana Iris Simón wrote “Feria” to depict a way of life she fears is vanishing. She didn’t expect its message to be embraced by conservatives in her country.


Brian Cox Takes Stock of His Eventful Life on Stage and Screen

In “Putting the Rabbit in the Hat,” the actor currently thriving as Logan Roy in “Succession” recounts his Scottish upbringing, his years in the theater and his experiences in Hollywood.


Michael Schur’s Unending Quest to Be Perfect

The comedy writer, known for shows like “Parks and Recreation” and “The Good Place,” has a surprising new project: a book about moral philosophy that explores how to be a good person.


The Cult of Saint Joan

Daphne Merkin examines her complicated feelings about Joan Didion’s writing, iconic status and legacy.


Seeking Enlightenment, He Disappeared Into a Hiker’s Bermuda Triangle

In “Lost in the Valley of Death,” Harley Rustad follows the long and winding road that led Justin Alexander Shetler to India’s Parvati Valley.


Robert Gottlieb on ‘Garbo’ and ‘Babbitt’

Gottlieb talks about his own new biography and the work of Sinclair Lewis, and Carl Bernstein discusses “Chasing History.”


Book Review: ‘A Previous Life,’ by Edmund White

Set in 2050, after its author has died, “A Previous Life” is a metafictional comedy about literature and sex.


Dennis Smith, Firefighter Who Wrote Best Sellers, Dies at 81

“Report From Engine Co. 82” was the first of his 16 books. He also started Firehouse magazine and was the founding chairman of the New York City Fire Museum.


Weike Wang’s Antisocial Novel, ‘Joan Is Okay’

The author of “Chemistry” returns with a wry and awkward heroine who prefers the company of machines to her fellow humans.


What to Do This Weekend

It’s a TV bumper crop.


The Chinese Language Revolution

Jing Tsu talks about “Kingdom of Characters,” and Kathryn Schulz discusses “Lost and Found.”


Ann Arensberg, Insightful Novelist of Mysteries and Manners, Dies at 84

Her debut novel, “Sister Wolf,” won a 1981 National Book Award. Her later books explored the Manhattan theater scene and the New England occult.


Two Novelists, Avi and Brian Farrey, Use Fiction to Show Kids Why Facts Matter

“Loyalty” and “The Counterclockwise Heart” — set in 1774 Boston and a fairy-tale kingdom divided against itself — explore how misinformation stokes fear and incites violence.


The French Naturalist Who Loved To Paint Mushrooms

Jean-Henri Fabre, known for his popular books on insects, was a man of many hobbies.


Four New Crime Novels

Stephen Hunter’s new novel, “Targeted,” features the retired Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger — who’s still a crack shot — in his 12th adventure.


From Blood and Phlegm to Alcohol and Defenestration, Novels of Heartache

Fiction by Mina Seçkin, Lisa Harding, Neel Patel and Renée Branum tells of transnational family and loss.


New in Paperback: ‘Harlem Shadows’ and ‘The Black Church’

Six new paperbacks to check out this week.


Heroic Outcasts Who Reshaped America

James R. Gaines’s “The Fifties” describes a decade when opposition to a stifling national consensus was costly and courageous.


11 New Books We Recommend This Week

Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times.


Tom McCarthy Thinks the Wrong Kurt Vonnegut Book Is Famous

“I was really disappointed when I read ‘Slaughterhouse-Five,’” says the author of “The Making of Incarnation” and other novels. “But then I read his ‘Mother Night,’ and thought it was brilliant.”


Poem: At Last There Is Yesterday

This poem (in translation) by Wang Yin, a Chinese poet based in Shanghai, aptly captures the slipperiness of time, memory and dreams.


These Old Hands Have Written New Best Sellers

What do Jacqueline Woodson and Elizabeth George have in common? They’re both veteran authors whose books fly off the shelves.


What Have You Dreamed About Lately?

Night visions, two years in.


They Made the Most of the Opioid Crisis. Until They Didn’t.

In “The Hard Sell,” the journalist Evan Hughes tells the story of the rise and fall of Insys Therapeutics — and the larger pharmaceutical industry.


Thoreau, Emerson and the Town Where Their Thoughts Took Root

“The Transcendentalists and Their World,” by Robert A. Gross, focuses on Concord, Mass.