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Fiction & Poetry
AMERICAN WIFE. By Curtis Sittenfeld. (Random House, $26.) The life of this novel’s heroine — a first lady who comes to realize, at the height of the Iraq war, that she has compromised her youthful ideals — is conspicuously modeled on that of Laura Bush.
ATMOSPHERIC DISTURBANCES. By Rivka Galchen. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) The psychiatrist-narrator of this brainy, whimsical first novel believes that his beautiful, much-younger Argentine wife has been replaced by an exact double.
BASS CATHEDRAL. By Nathaniel Mackey. (New Directions, paper, $16.95.) Mackey’s fictive world is an insular one of musicians composing, playing and talking jazz in the private language of their art.
BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN. By Charles Bock. (R!
andom House, $25.) This bravura first novel, set against a corruptly compelling Las Vegas landscape, revolves around the disappearance of a surly 12-year-old boy.
A BETTER ANGEL: Stories. By Chris Adrian. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) For Adrian — who is both a pediatrician and a divinity student — illness and a heightened spiritual state are closely related conditions.
BLACK FLIES. By Shannon Burke. (Soft Skull, paper, $14.95.) A rookie paramedic in New York City is overwhelmed by the horrors of his job in this arresting, confrontational novel, informed by Burke’s five years of experience on city ambulances.
THE BLUE STAR. By Tony Earley. (Little, Brown, $23.99.) The caring, thoughtful hero of Earley’s !
engrossing first novel, “Jim the Boy,” is now 17 and confronting not only the eternal turmoil of love, but also venality and the frightening calls of duty and war.
THE BOAT. By Nam Le. (Knopf, $22.95.) In the opening story of Le’s first collection, a blocked writer succumbs to the easy temptations of “ethnic lit.”
BREATH. By Tim Winton. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) Surfing offers this darkly exhilarating novel’s protagonist an escape from a drab Australian town.
DANGEROUS LAUGHTER: Thirteen Stories. By Steven Millhauser. (Knopf, $24.) In his latest collection, Millhauser advances his chosen themes — the slippery self, the power of hysterical young people — with even more confidence and power than before.
DEAR AMERICAN AIRLINES. By Jonathan Miles. (Houghton Mifflin, $22.) Miles’s fine first novel takes the form of a letter from a stranded traveler, his life a compilation of regrets, who uses the time to digress on an impressive array of cultural issues, large and small.
br />DIARY OF A BAD YEAR. By J. M. Coetzee. (Viking, $24.95.) Coetzee follows the late career of one Señor C, who, like Coetzee himself, is a South African writer transplanted to Australia and the author of a novel titled “Waiting for the Barbarians.”
DICTATION: A Quartet. By Cynthia Ozick. (Houghton Mifflin, $24.) In the title story of this expertly turned collection, Henry James and Joseph Conrad embody Ozick’s polarity of art and ardor.
ELEGY: Poems. By Mary Jo Bang. (Graywolf, $20.) Grief is converted into art in this bleak, forthright collection, centered on the death of the poet’s son.
THE ENGLISH MAJOR. By Jim Harrison. (Grove, $24.) A 60-year-old cherry farmer and former English teacher — an inversion of the classic Harrison hero — sets out on a trip west after being dumped by his wife.
FANON. By John Edgar Wideman. (Houghton Mifflin, $24.) Wideman’s novel — raw and astringent, yet with a high literary polish — explores the life of the psychiatrist and revolutionary Frantz Fanon.
THE FINDER. By Colin Harrison. (Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) A New York thriller, played out against the nasty world of global capitalism.
FINE JUST THE WAY IT IS: Wyoming Stories 3 . By Annie Proulx. (Scribner, $25.) These rich, bleak stories offer an American West in which the natural elements are murderous and folks aren’t much better.
THE GOOD THIEF . By Hannah Tinti. (Dial, $25.) In Tinti’s first novel, set in mid-19th-century New England, a con man teaches an orphan the art of the lie.
HALF OF THE WORLD IN LIGHT: New and Selected Poems. By Juan Felipe Herrera. (University of Arizona, paper, $24.95.) Herrera, known for portrayals of Chicano life, is unpredictable and wildly inventive.
HIS ILLEGAL SELF. By Peter Carey. (Knopf, $25.) In this enthralling novel, a boy goes underground with a defiant hippie indulging her maternal urge.
HOME. By Marilynne Robinson. (Farrar, St!
raus & Giroux, $25.) Revisiting the events of her novel “Gilead” from another perspective, Robinson has written an anguished pastoral, at once bitter and joyful.
INDIGNATION. By Philip Roth. (Houghton Mifflin, $26.) Marcus Messner is a sophomore at a small, conservative Ohio college at the time of the Korean War. The novel he narrates, like Roth’s last two, is ruthlessly economical and relentlessly deathbound.
THE LAZARUS PROJECT. By Aleksandar Hemon. (Riverhead, $24.95.) This novel’s despairing immigrant protagonist becomes intrigued with the real-life killing of a presumed anarchist in Chicago in 1908.
LEGEND OF A SUICIDE. By David Vann. (University of Massachusetts, $24.95.) In his first story collection, Vann leads the reader to vital places while exorcizing demons born from the suicide of his father.
LIFE CLASS. By Pat Barker. (Doubleday, $23.95.) Barker’s new novel, about a group of British artists overtaken by!
World War I, concentrates more on the turmoil of love than on the trauma of war.
LUSH LIFE. By Richard Price. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Chandler — and Bellow, too — peeps out from Price’s novel, in which an aspiring writer cum restaurant manager, mugged in the gentrifying Lower East Side of Manhattan, himself becomes a suspect.
A MERCY. By Toni Morrison. (Knopf, $23.95.) Summoning voices from the 17th century, Morrison performs her deepest excavation yet into America’s history and exhumes the country’s twin original sins: the importation of African slaves and the near extermination of Native Americans.
MODERN LIFE: Poems . By Matthea Harvey. (Graywolf, paper, $14.) Harvey is willing to take risks, and her reward is that richest, rarest thing, genuine poetry.
A MOST WANTED MAN . By John le Carré. (Scribner, $28.) This powerful novel, centered on a half-Russian, half-Chechen, half-crazy fugitive in Germany, swims with operatives whose desperation to avert another 9/11 provokes a s!
low-burning fire in every line.
MY REVOLUTIONS. By Hari Kunzru. (Dutton, $25.95.) Kunzru’s third novel is an extraordinary autumnal depiction of a failed ’60s radical.
NETHERLAND. By Joseph O’Neill. (Pantheon, $23.95.) In the wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction yet about post-9/11 New York and London, the game of cricket provides solace to a man whose family disintegrates after the attacks.
OPAL SUNSET: Selected Poems, 1958-2008. By Clive James. (Norton, $25.95.) James, a staunch formalist, is firmly situated in the sociable, plain-spoken tradition that runs from Auden through Larkin.
THE OTHER. By David Guterson. (Knopf, $24.95.) In this novel from the author of “Snow Falling on Cedars,” a schoolteacher nourishes a friendship with a privileged recluse.
OUR STORY BEGINS: New and Selected Stories. By Tobias Wolff. (Knopf, $26.95.) Some of Wolff’s best work is concentrated here, revealing his gift for evoking the breadth of American experience.
THE ROAD HOME. By Rose Tremain. (Little, Brown, $24.99.) A widowed Russian emigrant, fearfully navigating the strange city of London, learns that his home village is about to be inundated.
THE SACRED BOOK OF THE WEREWOLF. By Victor Pelevin. Translated by Andrew Bromfield. (Viking, $25.95.) A supernatural call girl narrates Pelevin’s satirical allegory of post-Soviet, post-9/11 Russia.
THE SCHOOL ON HEART’S CONTENT ROAD. By Carolyn Chute. (Atlantic Monthly, $24.) In Chute’s first novel in nearly 10 years, disparate characters cluster around an off-the-grid communal settlement.
SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT: A New Verse Translation. By Simon Armitage. (Norton, $25.95.) One of the eerie, exuberant joys of Middle English poetry, in an alliterative rendering that captures the original’s drive, dialect and landscape.
SLEEPING IT OFF IN RAPID CITY: Poems, New and Selected. By August Kleinzahler. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Kleinzahler seeks the true heart of places, whether repellent, beautiful or both at once.
TELEX FROM CUBA. By Rachel Kushner. (Scribner, $25.) In this multilayered first novel, international drifters try to bury pasts that include murder, adultery and neurotic meltdown, even as the Castro brothers gather revolutionaries in the hills.
2666. By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, cloth and paper, $30.) The five autonomous sections of this posthumously published novel interlock to form an astonishing whole, a supreme capstone to Bolaño’s vaulting ambition.
UNACCUSTOMED EARTH. By Jhumpa Lahiri. (Knopf, $25.) In eight sensitive stories, Lahiri evokes the anxiety, excitement and transformations felt by Bengali immigrants and their American children.
THE UNFORTUNATES. By B. S. Johnson. (New Directions, $24.95.) This novel, first published in 1969, dovetails theme (the accidents of memory) with eccentric form (unbound chapters to be read in any order).
WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS? By Kate Atkinson. (Little, Brown, $24.99.) Jackson Brodie, the hero of Atkinson’s previous literary thrillers, takes the case of a mother and baby who suddenly disappear.
THE WIDOWS OF EASTWICK. By John Updike. (Knopf, $24.95.) In this ingenious sequel to “The Witches of Eastwick,” the three title characters, old ladies now, renew their sisterhood, return to their old hometown and contrive to atone for past crimes.
YESTERDAY’S WEATHER. By Anne Enright. (Grove, $24.) Working-class Irish characters grapple with love, marriage, confusion and yearning in Enright’s varied, if somewhat disenchanted, stories.