Six new paperbacks for spring, including one perfect Mother’s Day pick …
“There There” by Tommy Orange (Vintage, $16). Orange’s debut novel, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and numerous other honors, follows 12 characters from Native communities on their way to the Big Oak Powwow. The author’s perspective, wrote Seattle Times reviewer Jeff Baker, is “funny and profane and conscious of the violence that runs like a scar through American culture.”
“The Art of the Wasted Day,” by Patricia Hampl (Penguin Random House, $17). “By wasting some of your time with Hampl, you’ll understand more of what makes life worth living,” wrote NPR book reviewer Maureen Corrigan, describing Hampl’s nonfiction book as “sharp and unconventional … a swirl of memoir, travelogue and biography of some of history’s champion daydreamers.” I just bought this one myself, as a gift for a friend’s retirement.
“Severance” by Ling Ma (Picador, $17). This imaginative debut novel, winner of the 2018 Kirkus Prize, takes place during a New York apocalypse, as a first-generation American working in the publishing industry contemplates starting society anew. Jiayang Fan, in The New Yorker, wrote “Ma’s prose is, for the most part, understated and restrained, somewhat in the manner of Kazuo Ishiguro, and particularly his classic “The Remains of the Day,” from 1989, which Ma has cited as an influence.”
“Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng (Penguin, $17). Should you be in need of a last-minute Mother’s Day gift for a book-loving mom, you can’t do much better than Ng’s beautifully composed best-seller — a haunting, layered story of mothers and daughters, and how they attract and repel each other. Named a best book of 2018 by multiple outlets, it’s soon to be a Hulu limited series, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.
“We Begin Our Ascent” by Joe Mungo Reed (Simon & Schuster, $16). “Like a racer, Reed carefully husbands his resources in this ruthless little sports novel,” wrote Dwight Garner in The New York Times of Reed’s debut novel, a tale of a professional cyclist riding in the Tour de France. “It’s one of the indices of Reed’s talent that you hotly flip this book’s pages even when there’s not a lot going on, when it’s just another hilly day on the tour.”
“The Death of Mrs. Westaway” by Ruth Ware (Gallery/Scout Press, $16.99). British suspense novelist Ware (“The Woman in Cabin 10,” “The Lying Game”) has a knack for old-haunted-house novels, and this one kept me flipping pages late on a summer’s night last year. A young woman, grieving a loss, is notified that a mysterious legacy is due to her, and off she goes to a gloomy old house in the country, occupied by a very strange family. Ware uncannily conveys the chill that pervades both the region and the house, in its frigid rooms and in the eyes that gaze at our heroine. (If you like this sort of thing — I do — Ware has a new novel out later this summer as well, “The Turn of the Key.”)