Our favorite books coming out this week include new titles from Ken Jaworowski, Shane McCrae, Eddie Ndopu, and more.

Pulling the Chariot of the Sun: A Memoir of a Kidnapping

Shane McCrae. Scribner, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-1-6680-2174-3
Poet and National Book Award finalist McCrae (In the Language of My Captor) recounts the jaw-dropping circumstances of his childhood in this exceptional memoir. In 1978, when McCrae was three years old, his white supremacist grandparents kidnapped him from Oregon and transported him to Texas, where they raised him as their own child, hoping to “save” him from the influence of his Black father (his mother, having been abused by her parents, didn’t intervene). McCrae was frequently beaten and belittled by his grandfather, who taunted him for being half Black (“You don’t want to look like them, do you?”). Never given the full story of his lineage, he began to mix the lies his grandparents told him with his own fuzzy memories of the past—in one lyrical passage, he remembers running down the aisle of a fabric store “from illusion to illusion” and into the arms of his grandmother, which he knows can’t be true, because she “wasn’t often physically affectionate.” At age 15, McCrae discovered poetry and threw himself into it wholesale; the confidence he drew from writing moved him to find his father, which he hazily recounts here, copping to the fact that his memories of the reunion are choppy and inconsistent. McCrae’s account of the abuses he endured are unflinching, but readers will walk away with a stronger sense of awe than pity, both for his resilience and his command of language. This gorgeous meditation on family, race, and identity isn’t easy to shake. Agent: Alice Whitwham, Elyse Cheney Literary. (Aug.)

Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw: Reimagining Success as a Disabled Achiever

Eddie Ndopu. Legacy Lit, $29 (240p) ISBN 978-0-306-82906-2
In his sharp, illuminating debut memoir, South African disability rights advocate Ndopu chronicles his trials and triumphs as a disabled gay Black man enrolled at Oxford University. Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, which weakens the body’s skeletal muscles, at age two, and not expected to live beyond age five, Ndopu defied all medical models. After graduating from college, he was accepted into the Master’s in Public Policy program at Oxford. Initially elated, Ndopu quickly settled into something more like optimistic ambivalence after he arrived at the university. Though he felt proud of receiving recognition from such a prestigious institution, he was an outsider among his able-bodied peers, dealing with a rotating cast of care aides and lamenting the school’s lack of accommodations for people with disabilities. Wryly detailing the costs and complications of his attendance at Oxford, Ndopu shines a light on ableism both conscious and unconscious (“Within a span of half a day, I’d been shuttled between care aides like a young person who’d fallen through the cracks of the foster care system, and now I was being prevented from using the bathroom,” he laments early on). This raw yet triumphant tale should be required reading. Agent: Bridget Matzie, Aevitas Creative Management. (Aug.)

Small Town Sins

Ken Jaworowski. Holt, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250881-67-0
New York Times editor Jaworowski shines in his artful debut, which interweaves the stories of several struggling residents in the Rust Belt town of Locksburg, Pa. When Nathan was 17, he impregnated the first girl he slept with and had to come up with the $1,000 she needed to get an abortion. He resorted to pawning his disabled mother’s wedding ring, but when its disappearance was noted, the search for it ended tragically. Decades later, Nathan is a volunteer firefighter whose marriage is troubled by his wife’s fertility issues. His fortunes change when he stumbles on millions in cash while saving a man from a burning building and chooses to keep the loot. Violent complications ensue, and Jaworowski weaves them with the stories of other desperate town residents, including the former-addict father of a disabled child and a nurse with a congenital facial disfigurement who hopes to give a girl with terminal cancer her dying wish, even if doing so would break the law. Jaworowski skillfully toggles between his plot threads, never sacrificing character development for cheap thrills. Admirers of Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan will be eager for more from this talented storyteller. (Aug.)

The Art of Scandal

Regina Black. Grand Central, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2277-0
Black’s steamy and evocative debut kicks off at white liberal D.C. mayor Matt Abbott’s 40th birthday party, where his Black wife, Rachel, discovers he’s having an affair. Knowing she signed an ironclad prenup, Rachel fears destitution should she leave Greg outright and negotiates for a million dollars and their suburban home in exchange for her silence during campaign season. But playing the perfect politician’s wife becomes harder after she meets Mexican American Nathan Vasquez, 10 years her junior and the scion of another prominent local family. Nathan, an exceptionally good listener, offers comfort, respect, and admiration for Rachel as both a woman and an artist. Their emotional affair is stop-and-start as both try to fight their undeniable connection. Things heat up, however, when Rachel chooses Nathan as the featured artist at an upcoming gala she’s hosting. As their feelings intensify, so does the risk of their affair causing a scandal that will destroy both their lives. Subplots about Nathan striving for independence from his domineering family and Rachel rediscovering the passion for art that she put on hold to support Greg add emotion and nuance to the story. As poignant as it is passionate, this marks Black as a writer to watch. Agent: Sharon Pelletier, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Aug.)

The Book of Witches

Edited by Jonathan Strahan, illus. by Alyssa Winans. Harper Voyager, $40 (512p) ISBN 978-0-06-311322-0
World Fantasy Award winner Strahan follows up The Book of Dragons with a darkly enchanting fantasy anthology comprising 29 wonderfully diverse stories and poems. Accompanied by lovely illustrations from Hugo Award finalist Winans, these tales offer myriad perspectives on the folkloric figure of the witch, defined in Strahan’s introduction as “agents of change” whose supernatural powers, whether relished or horrifying, emerge from within. Linda A. Addison’s stirring poem “Seed of Power” opens the book, invoking the figures of maiden, mother, and crone. Things get spooky in Tade Thompson’s chilling and dreamlike contemporary fantasy “The Luck Thief” and Fonda Lee’s Poe-esque “Nameless Here for Evermore,” but take a turn for the cozy in Garth Nix’s “The Unexpected Excursions of the Murder Mystery Writing Witches,” which stars magic-wielding versions of Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Josephine Tey. Other standouts include Darcie Little Badger’s “The Liar,” about a woman with the power to make others believe her lies, and Tobi Ogundiran’s “The Nine Jars of Nukulu,” which bubbles over with potions, poisons, and shape-shifters. These spellbinding tales will have readers up all night, utterly bewitched. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Aug.)

I Will Greet the Sun Again

Khashayar J. Khabushani. Hogarth, $27 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-24330-5
Khabushani’s beautiful debut centers on K, an Iranian American boy who comes of age in 1990s and 2000s Los Angeles with his parents and two older brothers. His unemployed father, Baba, sees “a light” in K’s eyes, which Baba takes to mean that K is destined for great things. But K, who narrates, is less certain about the direction of his life or where he belongs. Through a series of impressionistic episodes, such as the time he searched the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese for lost coins, K recounts his efforts to “become the American boy I want to be.” Then Baba takes his sons back to Iran, where he says, “Things will be better for us.” They are not—especially when Baba sexually abuses K. After returning home to L.A., without Baba, K, now in middle school, imagines acting on his desires for his neighbor Johnny. As the years pass and his older brothers find their paths in life, K gets a job at McDonald’s, where “the must of potatoes and sweat is permanently wedged into the tiles of the walls.” After 9/11, K feels the wrath of Islamophobia. Khabushani renders K’s experiences in poignant vignettes that speak to the young boy’s sensitivity as he dreams of a better, albeit uncertain future. This heartrending tale will stay with readers. (Aug.)

Waiting to Be Arrested at Night: A Uyghur Poet’s Memoir of China’s Genocide

Tahir Hamut Izgil. Penguin Press, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-49179-9
Poet and activist Izgil delivers an astonishing account of his experience surviving the Chinese government’s genocide of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province. After being imprisoned under false pretenses for carrying “sensitive documents” on a study abroad trip in 1996, Izgil found work as a filmmaker, started a family, and became accustomed to constant police harassment and surveillance. When police began the mass internment of Uyghurs in 2017, Izgil and his wife made plans to leave China—a lengthy, expensive, and dangerous process that would also mean permanently severing himself from his homeland. “While we know the joy of those lucky few who boarded Noah’s ark, we live with the coward’s shame hidden in that word ‘escape.’... We will see these dear ones only in our dreams,” he writes of being unable to contact his loved ones after fleeing to the United States, where he still lives. Interspersed throughout the narrative are flashes of Izgil’s stunning poetry, much of it themed around diasporic rootlessness. This is a spellbinding account of personal resilience and an eye-opening exposé on the humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang. Agent: Adam Eaglin, Cheney Agency. (Aug.)

A Pocketful of Happiness

Richard E. Grant. Simon & Schuster, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-66803-069-1
Actor Grant (With Nails) delivers an excellent memoir that’s part journal, part love letter to his late wife, Joan Washington. Mostly, he chronicles his and Joan’s ups and downs across 38 years, from their meeting in 1982, when he hired her as a dialect coach to “iron out” his Swazi accent, to her cancer diagnosis, decline, and eventual death. He also peppers in witty gossip, including the time he met “his lifelong idol” Barbara Streisand, descriptions of his friendship with Melissa McCarthy (“Melissa is, in fact, morose, always late for work, never knows her lines, is inconsiderate, selfish, and we did not get along, at all,” he tells an audience, to “big laughs and an even bigger hug from her”), and a particularly endearing account of the time he accepted a role as the Spice Girls’ manager in Spice World to please his eight-year-old daughter. Though he doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges of caring for Joan during her illness or his grief after she died (“I feel and look like an old turtle without my shell, trying to navigate the world on my own, having lost my loving compass”), Grant’s tender recollections effectively conjure on the page the couple’s enduring connection. The result is a moving and entertaining celebration of life and love. (July)