DARE TO SPEAK: Defending Free Speech for All, by Suzanne Nossel. (Dey Street, $28.99.) The chief executive of PEN America revisits recent debates, arguing that “concerns of diversity and inclusion can — and must — be reconciled with robust protections for speech.”
THE DEATH OF THE ARTIST: How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech, by William Deresiewicz. (Holt, $27.99.) The internet has wrought profound changes in the arts, as in the rest of society. Deresiewicz, a critic and essayist, interviews artists across a range of disciplines to assess the impact.
MUST I GO, by Yiyun Li. (Random House, $28.) Late in life, prompted by the diary of a former lover, the steely heroine of Li’s fourth novel looks back on her marriages, her love affairs and especially her troubled relationship with her daughter, grappling with how our histories help shape our characters.
UNSPEAKABLE ACTS: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession, edited by Sarah Weinman. (Ecco, paper, $18.99.) This anthology gathers 13 pieces of true-crime writing, including Pamela Colloff’s stunning Texas Monthly profile of a campus shooting survivor.
I HOLD A WOLF BY THE EARS: Stories, by Laura van den Berg. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) The stylish, surreal stories in van den Berg’s new collection, laced with edgy comedy, offer portraits of women in despair.
What we’re reading:
In a news year dominated by the struggle to live — against the coronavirus, against police brutality — how about reading about the struggle to die? This is Norman Mailer’s 1979 true-crime novel THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG, in which Gary Gilmore pleads guilty to killing two people and fights the state of Utah for the implementation of his death sentence by firing squad (his pick). Gilmore’s was the first execution in the United States in nearly 10 years and the first after the Supreme Court briefly banned capital punishment in 1972. He felt he deserved to die, and his battle to force the state to carry out his death sentence was closely watched by the nation and reignited debates about capital punishment across the country. “The Executioner’s Song” takes you inside Gilmore’s head and the harrowing fight he launched against those who tried to save him against his will. As he stood before the firing squad in 1977, his last words were “Let’s do it.”
—Maria Abi-Habib, South Asia correspondent