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Saturday, November 26, 2022

9 New Books We Recommend This Week

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A WORLD ON THE WING: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds, by Scott Weidensaul. (Norton, $32.) Weidensaul takes readers on a gripping journey alongside the world’s feathered wanderers and the people who study them. He’s also on something of a crusade, drawing attention to the large number of birds that have been disappearing from the skies. “Weidensaul tasks himself with communicating to both the knowing birder and the layman the epic scale of what’s happening in our skies every year, the whys and hows, while offering rays of hope through the gloomy storm clouds,” Christian Cooper writes in his review. “The success of ‘A World on the Wing’ in navigating that challenge rivals the astonishing feats of the birds he chronicles.”

WHAT COMES AFTER, by JoAnne Tompkins. (Riverhead, $28.) In this debut novel, a pregnant teenager appears in a small town that is reeling in the wake of tragedy. How the residents open their doors to a stranger, and how two neighbors find their way forward after the deaths of their sons, is the backbone of this difficult but elegant story. “It’s a cautionary tale, one that prompted me to ask a series of probing, unwelcome questions at the dinner table,” Elisabeth Egan writes in her latest Group Text column. “But it’s also a powerful and inspiring reminder of how a close-knit community will rally around people in trouble, no matter their age.”

GOLD DIGGERS, by Sanjena Sathian. (Penguin Press, $27.) The teenagers at the center of Sathian’s debut novel drink literal gold in a desperate attempt to fit in as children of immigrants. The book is filled with achingly real reminders of what it was like to be an adolescent in post-9/11 America, feeling the weight of your parents’ dreams on your shoulders, but mostly just wanting to drink and make out. “The tension Sathian builds is one of teenage insecurity swelling into adulthood,” Lauren Christensen writes in her review. “This intimate glimpse of millennials who are second-generation Americans … shows how history repeats. It is a story of immigrants reaping their futures from property they have found, which is not theirs — or is it?”

FIRST PERSON SINGULAR: Stories, by Haruki Murakami. Translated by Philip Gabriel. (Knopf, $28.) Murakami’s new stories expound on memory’s power to shape us, incorporating confessional musings and touches of his signature supernaturalism: Charlie Parker speaks to us in a dream, a monkey with a strange compulsion comes clean. Our reviewer, David Means, admires the collection: “Whatever you want to call Murakami’s work — magic realism, supernatural realism — he writes like a mystery tramp, exposing his global readership to the essential and cosmic (yes, cosmic!) questions that only art can provoke.”

THE RECENT EAST, by Thomas Grattan. (MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) The rare novel to make a good life interesting, “The Recent East” follows three generations of one family, each uprooted and relocated across the world at a pivotal moment while growing up. “Most extraordinarily, Grattan gives us not only life, but a good life, the rarity of which in fiction (and increasingly, reality) is a shame,” our reviewer, Patrick Nathan, writes. “Is happiness really so uninteresting? Is contentment? Both seem to have developed that reputation, but in Grattan’s hands, life’s joys are magnetic.”

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