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9 new books we recommend this week

Written by The Anand Market

Updated on:

As the war in Ukraine enters its third year with no sign of fading from the headlines, Simon Shuster’s timely look at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tops our list of recommendations this week. You might pair this one with Guzel Yakhina’s recently translated historical novel, “A Volga Tale,” about a rural villager confronting earlier Russian encroachment — or consider an entirely different novel about imperial ambitions, Álvaro Enrigue’s hallucinatory reimagining of the fateful meeting between Cortés and Moctezuma.

Also available this week: Cynthia Zarin’s charming and deeply interior novel, “Inverno,” plus a tale of hate mail, a look at the importance of the moon, a tale of women taking the law into their own hands, and two books exploring the colorful history of San Francisco. . (What does it mean, a week before the Super Bowl, that we’re recommending two books about San Francisco and none about Kansas City? We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.) Happy reading. — Gregory Cowles

Using interviews with the Ukrainian president, his closest aides, and his critics, Shuster crafts an intimate account of the Russian invasion that vividly captures Zelensky’s transformation from outright comic to a war hero from central casting.

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“Although Shuster’s admiration for his subject is palpable, he never descends into hagiography. He knows that Zelensky’s artistic talents and the tactical advantages it gives him in world politics do not adequately explain the complexities of his presidency.”

According to the opinion of David Kortava

Tomorrow | $32.99

Yakhina’s novel, translated from Russian by Polly Gannon, centers on an eccentric tutor who, remembering the solace he once took in folk tales, manages to make a living writing “new folklore” for the organizer communist who wants to shape the local villagers. models of socialist virtue.

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“The larger narrative is itself shaped by folkloric forces…offset by dark, brooding interludes.”

Excerpt from Alida Becker’s historical fiction column

Europe | $28

The Moon may seem the least mysterious of our celestial neighbors, but Boyle gracefully argues that our development as a species and planet is inextricably linked to its presence.

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“It’s the only part of a vast universe that most of us will ever experience: all you have to do is look up. Or, of course, take a look at Boyle’s new book, which makes the moon seem closer than ever.

Based on Katrina Miller’s review

Random House | $28

The Internet may be full of anonymous cruelty, but this interesting study shows that the impulse goes back centuries or more: Neighbors, friends, enemies, and strangers send poison letters for all kinds of reasons and in all kinds of ways . The motives are often obscure, the effects disturbing.

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“Even limited to the age of ink and paper, this is a broad subject – and, given that not everyone considers extortion attempts to be a family heirloom, it requires many scientific research. … What Cockayne has written is the story of the most devalued currency: privacy.”

Based on Sadie Stein’s review

Oxford University Press | $25

Mexican writer Enrigue recounts the fateful encounter between Hernán Cortés and the Aztecs in this mind-blowing novel, translated by Natasha Wimmer. Moctezuma is formidable but depressed, often tripping over magic mushrooms, while the conquistadors become increasingly anxious.

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“Short, strange, sharp and sublime. …Enrigue, who is clearly a major talent, has delivered a humane comedy of manners that is largely about paranoia (am I going to cut my head off today?) and the daily disappointments of life , even if you are powerful beyond that. belief.”

Based on the opinion of Dwight Garner

River Head | $28

Through meticulous research and vivid reporting, Davenport brings April 18, 1906, to life, chronicling every moment of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and the subsequent fire that devastated the city.

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“In a chronicle that sometimes reads like the script for a Robert Altman film, Davenport draws on hundreds of people…whose archival testimony details the roughly 60 seconds of terror and what one observer called ” the great silence” that followed.”

From the opinion of Ian Volner

Saint-Martin Press | $35

King, a longtime writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, presents the city’s history through one structure: the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, built in 1898.

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“Not just for souvenir hunters. Serious and rigorous, the book provides insight into San Francisco’s continuing struggles – and what lies behind them.

From the opinion of Ian Volner

Norton | $29.99

What happens when women resort to violence, to defend themselves or others? Flock, a journalist, explores this question through the stories of three very different women, in Alabama, rural India and northern Syria, avoiding easy moralizing.

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“The juxtapositions in “The Furies” are thought-provoking. …Flock has done a service by depicting the human complexity of his subjects.

According to the opinion of Sanam Maher

Harper | $32

This brief, meditative novel begins with a woman waiting in a snowy Central Park for a phone call from a former lover. Time and space blur, and riffs from fairy tales, films and music provide insight into her inner states.

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“Seeing the chaos of suffering transformed into something beautiful is one of the main reasons we turn to art. There is not a trite phrase or purple spot in this book that only a poet could have written.

According to the opinion of Sigrid Nunez

Farrar, Straus and Giroux | $25