Recent titles of interest:
VIA NEGATIVA, by Daniel Hornsby. (Knopf, $23.95.) This promising, energetic debut novel has a plot like the setup to a joke: A priest who’s losing his religion is on the road with a pistol, an injured coyote and a letter from an estranged friend driving him to revenge.
ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA: And What Is at Stake, by Sarah Chayes. (Knopf, $28.95.) A former NPR reporter who went on to start a nonprofit organization in Afghanistan looks at the corrosive effects of corporate and government malfeasance, including corruption that is legal or quietly tolerated.
WHAT CAN A BODY DO? How We Meet the Built World, by Sara Hendren. (Riverhead, $27.) Thirty years after the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Hendren shows how engineering, architecture and product design affect our dealings with the world, and asks how they might better accommodate all users.
ENTITLED: How Male Privilege Hurts Women, by Kate Manne. (Crown, $27.) The author, a philosophy professor at Cornell, cogently and efficiently recalls recent, highly publicized incidents of egregious male behavior to argue that misogyny is endemic and structural.
ANALOGIA: The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control, by George Dyson. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) Is the future analog or digital? Dyson, a historian of technology, ranges far in this surprising discussion.
What we’re reading:
I came upon David Bradley’s novel THE CHANEYSVILLE INCIDENT as a graduate student in 1983, and it astounded me — so much so that I read it twice. I hadn’t thought much about it since, but digesting Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” last year sent me back. “Chaneysville” is rich, complex and relentless: a mystery, a history, a family drama and a meditation on race, death and time, all wrapped around a cryptic incident in Chaneysville, in western Pennsylvania, once a pathway on the Underground Railroad. The protagonist, John Washington, is a Black history professor from Chaneysville who returns to look after the man who helped rear him. He leaves behind Judith, the white woman with whom he has a troubled relationship. Washington is a challenging hero. He’s obsessive and merciless, harsh toward Judith and his mother. But the story brings a measure of empathy, reconciliation and hope. The book jolted me in 1983. Nearly 40 years later, it reminded me of the redemptive power of truth.
—Eric Asimov, wine critic