Among this week's half-dozen Paperback Picks are an Oprah’s Book Club selection and New York Times best-seller, the winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 2018 and a novel being reissued nearly 30 years after its author's death.
Time for a new paperback? Consider one of these:
“The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border” by Francisco Cantu (Penguin, $17; out Feb. 5). In this memoir, Cantu writes of his years working for the U.S. Border Patrol. “In an often raw and timely confessional,” wrote a Minneapolis Star Tribune review, “the former Fulbright fellow and Pushcart Prize winner paints a striking picture of the unsparing borderlands, even as he often finds coarse beauty in the desert terrain where he and his colleagues ply their trade.”
“A Long Way From Home” by Peter Carey (Knopf, $16.95; out Feb. 5). The two-time Booker Prize-winning author (“Oscar and Lucinda,” “True History of the Kelly Gang”) here delivers what Seattle Times reviewer Michael Upchurch described as “a Great Australian Epic in picaresque form.” Three characters, in mid-1950s Australia, enter a round-the-continent driving marathon; the result, Upchurch wrote, “is a frolic with depth, a flight of fancy with tough resonance.”
“Learning to See: A Novel of Dorothea Lange, the Woman Who Revealed the Real America” by Elise Hooper (William Morrow, $15.99). Local author Hooper (“The Other Alcott”) has based her novel on a true story: the life of photographer Dorothea Lange, who famously documented American life during the Depression and World War II — and became the first female recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, in 1940. “Historical fiction fans will gobble up Hooper’s novel,” wrote Publisher’s Weekly, “and be left with the satisfied feeling that they have lived through much of the 20th century with Dorothea Lange.”
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“An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones (Algonquin, $16.95; out Feb. 5). An Oprah’s Book Club selection and a New York Times best-seller, Jones’ novel eloquently examines a love triangle: a pair of contemporary Atlanta newlyweds separated when he is falsely accused of a crime and the old friend upon whom the wife leans for support. “It is beautifully written, with many allusions to black music and culture,” wrote a New York Times reviewer, “including the everyday poetry of the African-American community that begs to be heard.”
“The Friend” by Sigrid Nunez (Riverhead, $16; out Feb. 5). Winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 2018, Nunez’s novel explores what happens when a writer, grieving the sudden death of her best friend, must unwillingly take in the (very large) dog that he has left behind. “I was drawn to her sixth novel as a fresh addition to the literature of grief,” wrote an NPR reviewer, “but within pages realized ‘The Friend’ has as much to say about literature as about grief.”
“The Moviegoer” by Walker Percy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16). Winner of the 1962 National Book Award, this novel is being reissued for a new audience nearly 30 years after its author’s death, complete with a new afterward by Paul Elie (author of “The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage”). Now considered a classic of Southern literature, it’s about a young New Orleans stockbroker fascinated by movies. “With its slack and offhand protagonist, its present-tense narration, its effortless mix of informal speech, images from popular culture and frank ruminations on the meaning of life, ‘The Moviegoer’ is the first work of what we call contemporary American fiction, the earliest novel to render a set of circumstances and an outlook that still feel recognizably ours,” writes Elie.