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This new book by Jonathan Franzen, sigh, is terrific. In fact, “Crossroads” is one of his best, overflowing with family crisis, morality, mundanity — a nearly 19th century potboiler of ordinariness, across 600 pages, set in suburban Chicago. It is the first of a trilogy saddled with a weighty title: “The Key to All Mythologies,” itself a nod to “Middlemarch.” It is, in other words, that most ...

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"State of Terror" by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny; Simon & Schuster/St. Martin’s Press (494 pages, $30) ——— When politicians write novels, I usually try to avoid reviewing them. With a handful of exceptions, my critical response to such books has been: “Don’t quit your day job.” "State of Terror" is a big, turbocharged, breathtaking exception: It’s one of the best political thrillers ...

Sally Rooney confirmed Tuesday that she has declined to sell Hebrew translation rights of "Beautiful World, Where Are You" to an Israeli publisher. On Tuesday, the Irish writer said in a statement that she made her decision because of her support for the Palestinian people and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in opposition to the Israeli government. Rooney said she would be ...

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FICTION: Inanimate objects speak in this thought-provoking novel. "The Book of Form and Emptiness" by Ruth Ozeki; Viking (560 pages, $30) ——— Early in "The Book of Form and Emptiness," Ruth Ozeki's heady new novel, an off-course bird bangs into a classroom window: "THWACK!" The middle schoolers are stunned. One is particularly upset. Benny Oh approaches the glass. He whispers to it, then ...

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NONFICTION: Mark Gustafson's exhaustive nonfiction study examines the literary life and legacy of Minnesota poet Robert Bly. "Born Under the Sign of Odin" by Mark Gustafson; Nodin Press (368 pages, $19.95) ——— In its heyday, the pugnacious and politically witty literary magazine The Fifties became notorious for its personalized rejection slips, which tended toward sarcasm and bordered on rude. ...

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CHICAGO — I told my editor I wanted to start a weekly column about reading and that I wanted to begin with Ray Bradbury and Gene Wolfe. Not because they’re science fiction legends and I’m a committed sci-fi reader — more like an enthusiastic toe-dipper. Not because they are sons of Illinois — Bradbury’s from Waukegan and Wolfe’s from Peoria. Not even because handsome new editions of their ...

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Let's face it, some states are more evocative than others — take North Carolina. So many Americans of all ethnicities have ties to its cities and natural areas — the Appalachians, the Piedmont area, the coastal marshes and beaches. Wiley Cash, writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, has written three exceptionally fine novels set in his home state ("The Last Ballad," ...

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The pandemic has forced many to rethink and readjust their present with their future. Some have left jobs that provided steady paychecks and a predictable complacency for unknown, yet meaningful passion projects. Others are are taking more control of their destinies as they see fit. Unwilling to settle in life anymore. So why would you settle in death? That’s the question Kathy Benjamin, ...

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It might be a good weekend to cozy up next to the fan with a good book. Here are six new options for readers of all ages. — Anthony Veasna So's "Afterparties" is a stunning collection of stories of generations of Cambodian American immigrants who must reconcile the trauma of the Khmer Rouge genocide with themselves, each other and their adopted country. The promising author's debut has been ...

FICTION: A boy's search leads him around the world. "Ramadan Ramsey" by Louis Edwards; Amistad (400 pages, $27.99) ——— "Ramadan Ramsey" starts with a simple sentence and a grand tone: "Ramadan was blessed." What follows feels like the beginning of a tall tale, where a boy with a terrible temper that "might somehow be employed to destroy" stomps through his grandmother's New Orleans duplex. The ...

FICTION: A debut collection centered on myriad facets of the Korean-American experience. "Skinship" by Yoon Choi; A.A. Knopf (304 pages, $26) ——— Yoon Choi's "Skinship" comes wrapped in extravagant praise from luminaries such as Chang-rae Lee, Weike Wang and Adam Johnson: the stuff of first-time authors' dreams. Believe the hype. Choi's collection of short stories is an inventive, dazzling ...

"Another Kind of Eden" by James Lee Burke; Simon & Schuster (243 pages, $27) ——— When Aaron Broussard rolls out of a freight car with his duffel and his guitar near Denver in 1962, the American West looks almost like heaven to him. A Southerner haunted by his region’s dark history, he’ll discover in "Another Kind of Eden" that the West, like the South, brims with beauty, bounty and blood. ...

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