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The Underground Railroad : a novel
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New York Times Review
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, by Colson Whitehead. (Anchor, $16.95.) Whitehead's boldly inventive novel follows Cora, a slave in Georgia making her escape to freedom on a literal underground railroad. As she encounters horror after horror, the story trains an eye on aspects of black history too often co-opted by white narrators. This book, one of the Book Review's 10 best of 2016, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017. CANNIBALISM: A Perfectly Natural History, by Bill Schutt. (Algonquin, $16.95.) It wasn't just the Donner party. Cannibalism is often the rule, not the exception, for many species. Schutt's breezy tone helps keep disgust at bay, and the book is full of surprising detail: In China, for example, elites during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) regularly feasted on humans, and the practice continued well into the late 1960s. A PIECE OF THE WORLD, by Christina Baker Kline. (William Morrow/HarperCollins, $16.99.) Kline imagines the inner life of the woman with polio crawling across a desolate field in Andrew Wyeth's iconic painting, "Christina's World." "Both painter and writer have a fine-grained feel for the setting," our reviewer, Becky Aikman, wrote. "Christina's yearning, her determination, her will to dream, occupy the emotional center in both the novel and the painting." PHENOMENA: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigation Into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis, by Annie Jacobsen. (Back Bay/Little, Brown, $17.99.) For decades, the military has tried to harness the supernatural - to find hostages, for example, or to read foreign governments' minds. Jacobsen's account is full of entertaining anecdotes; she catalogs the seers, the spoon-benders and the researchers who administered ESP tests to plants, all funded in the interest of national security. ILL WILL, by Dan Chaon. (Ballantine, $17.) This dark literary thriller deals with recovered memories, satanistic ritual and childhood trauma. Dustin, a psychologist in his 40s, is grappling with a tragic past: His parents, aunt and uncle were murdered and his adopted brother, Rusty, was convicted of the crime. But new DNA evidence helped overturn the ruling, and Rusty's exoneration stirs up long-repressed guilt and fear. MY UTMOST: A Devotional Memoir, by Macy Halford. (Vintage, $17.) "My Utmost for His Highest," a book loved by evangelicals, was central to Halford's faith when she was growing up. Years later, as her beliefs shifted, she investigated the book's origins and its author, Oswald Chambers. Her memoir is both a mediation on "a complicated nostalgia" for the faith of her childhood and an intellectual biography of Chambers.
Publishers Weekly Review
Audiobook fans will certainly not be disappointed by versatile actor Turpin's performance of Whitehead's powerful historical novel, which tells the story of Cora, a teenage slave girl who lives on a cotton plantation in 1850s Georgia. After several public whippings by the plantation's new owner, she decides to flee north on the Underground Railroad. Turpin manages to shift between the ages, races, and accents of the large cast of characters with remarkable ease. Her turn as Cora mesmerizes with its display of conflicting emotions and attachments. Yet she is equally gifted in her depiction of white slave catcher Ridgeway, Cora's longtime nemesis, whose cruelty is made all the more chilling given his curious eccentricities. Turpin takes great pains to handle the nuances of dialect without resorting to caricature. A Doubleday hardcover. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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