11 New Books We Recommend This Week

NOTES ON GRIEF, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Knopf, $16.) This memoiristic essay by the celebrated novelist offers a slender and visceral exploration of her father’s recent, unexpected death. Written in 30 short sections, “Notes on Grief” lays a path by which we might mourn our individual traumas among the aggregate suffering of this harrowing time. “Adichie is uncloaked, full of ‘wretched, roaring rage,’ teaching us within the space of this work how to gather our disparate selves and navigate the still-raging pandemic,” Sarah M. Broom writes in her review. “In doing this, she tells a global story of this moment, while mapping how her writerly voice, in particular, came to be.”

WHEREABOUTS, by Jhumpa Lahiri. (Knopf, $24.) Lahiri’s atmospheric new novel, which she wrote in Italian and then translated herself, features a solitary woman in an unnamed city narrating episodes from the crossroads of a life stripped down to its essence, in chiseled, lapidary prose. “The pain of the narrator’s isolation feels extremely real,” Madeleine Thien writes in her review. “The book sheds dramatic structure, connective tissue and other characters, as if they were all part of a lifelong cage. In the brief, almost airy entries, where sentences are honed to minimalist beauty, the overriding sensation is of a shrinking world: a woman trying, before it is too late, to pull herself from a carapace.”

THE FREE WORLD: Art and Thought in the Cold War, by Louis Menand. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $35.) In a sweeping, original history, Menand employs finely tuned capsule biographies of writers, filmmakers, artists and more to cover the interchange of arts and ideas between the United States and Europe in the decades following World War II. “Menand is no cheerleader; his assessment of America’s failures can be withering,” David Oshinsky writes in his review. “But his larger point, backed by a mountain of research and reams of thoughtful commentary, is that American culture ascended in this era for the right reasons: ‘Ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered.’”

OPEN WATER, by Caleb Azumah Nelson. (Black Cat, paper, $16.) This unforgettable debut novel, set in southeast London, balances two stories of a 20-something Black photographer’s experience: falling in love with a dancer, but also encountering violence, economic inequality and omnipresent systemic oppression in a predominantly white city. “Anyone who was ever a young person in love remembers this feeling, this constant startling, the disbelief, the anxiety,” Gabriel Bump writes in his review. “Azumah Nelson’s poetic brilliance, his ability to balance the general and the specific, the ambient and the granular, makes for a salient achievement.”

POPISHO, by Leone Ross. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) Ross’s iridescent butterfly of a novel takes place on an island where each inhabitant has a personal magic. Even so, the residents are struggling — with grief, addiction, infertility and more. As they work through their troubles, an approaching hurricane threatens the island. Our reviewer, Eowyn Ivey, calls it a “magical” novel that “transforms humanity’s worn-out suffering into something new and astonishing.”

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