This week, inexplicably hostile badgers, pet polar bears, and goblins. Plus, who is Adele Hitler?
Ten White Geese by Gerbrand Bakker (Penguin) - Disappearing geese and an inexplicably hostile badger inhabit an otherwise eerily depopulated Welsh landscape in Bakker’s second novel, which probes the inner landscape of its protagonist to equally mysterious effect. Bakker’s spare prose gradually builds a sense of urgency beneath this haunting novel’s deceptively placid surface.
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman (Bloomsbury) - Beauman's inspired second novel introduces us to peripatetic, ever-horny Egon Loeser, a Berlin set designer of the early 1930s who leaves his city on account of someone named Hitler—not Adolph, but Adele (no relation), a young beauty impervious to Egon's charms. In Beauman's hands his voyage of self-discovery illuminates a pivotal moment in 20th-century history.
A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook (Norton) - In these deft portraits of St. Petersburg, Russia; Bombay, India; Shanghai, China; and Dubai, UAE; journalist Brook (The Trap) artfully condenses and illustrates three centuries of revolutionary urban development and globalizing impulses.
Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Harper Voyager) - In this beautifully written debut, Cargill chronicles the friendship and adventures of Ewan, stolen as a baby by the fairy–goblin crossbreeds called Bendith Y Mamau, and Colby, an eight-year-old who encounters a djinn. Readers with delicate sensibilities should leave this one for those who enjoy a roller-coaster ride into the depths of strangeness and despair.
Benediction by Kent Haruf (Knopf) - In Holt, the fictional Colorado town where all of Haruf’s novels are set, longtime resident Dad Lewis is dying of cancer. Happily married (he calls his wife “his luck”), Dad spends his last weeks thinking over his life, particularly an incident that ended badly with a clerk in his store, and his relationship with his estranged son. A quiet—though never once boring—book. Read our profile of Haruf.
Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield (Harlequin Mira) - After the attack on Pearl Harbor, teenaged Lucy Takeda and her family are sent to the Manzanar relocation camp in the California desert, but her father's death leaves Lucy and her beautiful mother, Miyako, without protection. Inside, survival means a seamstress job and putting up with the aggressive advances of George Rickenbocker, a brutal businessman overseeing Miyako's work at the camp.
Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community by Kenneth T. MacLeish (Princeton Univ.) - Twenty-first-century servicemen and women are leading a new kind of soldier’s life—overwhelmingly married, they rotate routinely between the battlefield and a home in the suburbs. Multiple tours are the norm. Compartmentalizing verges from a coping mechanism to a survival tactic. But what kind of impact does this normalization of abnormality have on soldiers, their families, and military base communities?
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss (Random) - American cuisine is just a delivery system for an addictive trinity of unhealthy ingredients, according to this eye-popping exposé of the processed food industry. The result is a mouth-watering, gut-wrenching look at the food we hate to love.
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis (Candlewick) - Mysteries abound in the first children’s book from Pastis, creator of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. Who stole the Halloween candy of Timmy’s classmate Gabe? Who is the mysterious girl Timmy refuses to discuss? Why is no one fazed that Timmy has a pet polar bear named Total? Fortunately, Timmy is an aspiring detective, who believes his agency, Total Failure Inc. Check out our inside look at Timmy Failure.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin) - Half-Korean sophomore Park Sheridan is getting through high school by lying low, listening to the Smiths (it’s 1986), reading Alan Moore’s Watchmen comics, never raising his hand in class, and avoiding the kids he grew up with. Then new girl Eleanor gets on the bus. When he realizes she’s reading his comics over his shoulder, a silent friendship is born. Check out a Q&A with Rowell.