A list of newly released paperbacks.
“The Dew Breaker”
by Edwidge Danticat (Vintage, $12.95). The Haitian-American writer (“Krik? Krak!”) parlays her strengths as a short-story writer into a novel-length setting, with these obliquely connected stories about a former Haitian torturer who attempts to reinvent himself as an average U.S. citizen. Winner of The Story Award, a new annual prize honoring short-story collections.
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“A Distant Shore”
by Caryl Phillips (Vintage, $14). A novel by the Caribbean-born writer about a friendship between a retired English schoolteacher and an African immigrant handyman. Ellen Emry Heltzel said Phillips had crafted “a moving tale around … the thirst to connect and the power of not only stereotypes but also our own self-absorption to separate and divide us.” Winner of the 2004 Commonwealth Prize.
“Little Black Book of Stories”
by A.S. Byatt (Vintage, $12.95). Five taut and tasty tales in a gothic-fantastical vein, by the author of “Possession.”
by Chris Abani (Picador, $14). A Nigerian novel about a teenage Elvis impersonator trying to escape the ghettos of Lagos. Barbara Lloyd McMichael found Abani’s storytelling style “sometimes cumbersome,” but said his reporting on Lagos’ underclass was “sharp, graphic and impossible to dismiss.”
by Danzy Senna (Riverhead, $13). The young author who made such an impact with her debut novel, “Caucasia,” delivers a second novel about two office colleagues, one of whom assumes their mixed-race similarities are a basis for friendship. Elizabeth Aoki called this “a disturbing, sensual tale.”
“The Rules of Engagement”
by Anita Brookner (Vintage, $13). Two London schoolgirl friends from the 1950s reconnect in later life — as mistress and former mistress of the same man. Melinda Bargreen enthused, “Few novelists can stand with Anita Brookner when it comes to the interior revelations of the human heart.”
by Hari Kunzru (Plume, $14). Novel about an East Indian computer programmer and a high-flying British millionaire getting buffeted by dot-com vicissitudes. Richard Wallace found this “witty, thoughtful, probing entertainment.”
“New and Collected Stories”
by Alan Sillitoe (Carroll & Graf, $15.95). A key figure of Britain’s “Angry Young Men” generation (Kingsley Amis, “Look Back in Anger” author John Osborne) proves he has quite a range when it comes to short fiction. Highlights include the classic “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,” a tasty ghost story (“The Caller”) and a wily treatment of fractured identity (“Mimic”).
by Trezza Azzopardi (Grove, $13). A novel by the author of “The Hiding Place,” about a 72-year-old homeless woman with a surprising past. Robert Allen Papinchak said the book “swirls from one shocking revelation to another.”
by Edward Docx (Mariner, $13). A wily, wicked debut novel about a womanizing London calligrapher who gets his comeuppance from an unexpected source.
by Laurie R. King (Bantam, $6.99). King’s latest suspense novel featuring Mary Russell (wife of a semi-retired Sherlock Holmes) involves “a sinister maharajah in cahoots with the Bolsheviks.” Adam Woog called the book “splendid fun — perhaps the rippingest of all of Russell’s ripping tales.”
by James Carroll (Mariner, $14). American high-school kids in 1961 Berlin get into bigger trouble than they know, in a novel that Adam Woog called “an uncommonly intelligent espionage story, written with flair and slow but seductive pacing.”
“Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero”
by Kate Clifford Larson (One World/Ballantine, $14.95). A biography of the African-American woman who worked with the Underground Railroad and served as nurse and spy for Union forces during the Civil War. John C. Walter called the book of “a marvel of impressive scholarship and lucid prose.”
“To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Mission to Save America: 1955-1968”
by Stewart Burns (HarperSanFrancisco, $18.95). The civil-rights historian (“Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott”) “brings attention to the core element of faith influencing King and the civil rights movement.”
“Harriet Jacobs: A Life”
by Jean Fagan Yellin (Basic, $16.95). Frederick Douglass Book Prize-winning biography of the author of “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” the first published account of slavery by a woman.
“The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality”
by Brian Greene (Vintage, $15.95). The writer-physicist (“The Elegant Universe”) conducts “a grand tour of the universe that makes us look at reality in a completely different way.”
“At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels through Paraguay”
by John Gimlette (Vintage, $14.95). An antic and informative book about the landlocked South American country. British author Gimlette, writing in a Redmond O’Hanlonlike vein, blends travelogue, history and flights of descriptive whimsy to tonic effect.
“The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic”
by Gay Salisbury and Laney Salisbury (Norton, $14.95). The story of the dog-team that carried life-saving serum to diphtheria-stricken Nome, Alaska, in 1925, and later inspired the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Diane Albert savored the way the authors “intercut the story of the relay with trenchant forays into sled-dog culture, Arctic anthropology and economics, and the politics of disease that attended the crisis.”
“Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation”
by Cokie Roberts (Perennial, $14.95). The NPR and ABC political analyst examines key female figures in U.S. history. Roberts will host a television program of the same name March 6, on The History Channel.
“The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership”
by Zbigniew Brzezinski (Basic, $15). The national security adviser under President Carter weighs how the U.S. might best wield its power in a post-9/11 world.
“The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story … with Wings”
by Mark Bittner (Three Rivers, $12.95). A San Francisco writer recalls how he befriended some feral parrots while living on the eastern slope of Telegraph Hill. Basis for a film of the same name, due out on April 15.
Compiled by Michael Upchurch,
Seattle Times book critic, with contributions cited from staff or freelance critics for The Seattle Times.