New in Paperback: ‘Real Life’ and ‘A Game of Birds and Wolves’

REAL LIFE, by Brandon Taylor. (Riverhead, 336 pp., $16.) Taylor’s Booker Prize-shortlisted debut follows a Southern Black gay grad student “who is mining hope for some better or different life in the haunted halls of a white academic space,” Jeremy O. Harris wrote in his review. Emotionally, he said, “Taylor subjugates us with the deft hand of a dom.”

SCRATCHED: A Memoir of Perfectionism, by Elizabeth Tallent. (Harper Perennial, 240 pp., $16.99.) Our reviewer, Daphne Merkin, called this memoir by the veteran short story writer “an artful ducking of the full reveal that we have come to expect from such accounts,” treating “the mysteries, gaps and obstacles in Tallent’s own story with the same psychological precision and elliptical motivation she applies to her fictional characters.”

A GAME OF BIRDS AND WOLVES: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II, by Simon Parkin. (Back Bay, 320 pp., $18.99.) The New Yorker writer’s history of the Royal Navy’s secret Western Approaches Tactical Unit, formed in 1942, "brings to life one of the most elusive aspects of war, showing how a military can develop an understanding of what the enemy is doing,” Thomas E. Ricks wrote in his column, and then thwart it.

THE HOT HAND: The Mystery and Science of Streaks, by Ben Cohen. (HarperCollins, 304 pp., $17.99.) “The hot hand is the Bigfoot of basketball,” our reviewer, John Swansburg, wrote. “A myth that won’t die.” Cohen’s subject is our society’s “unshakable belief in the sanctity of the streak,” pulling in evidence from Shakespeare to N.B.A. Jam.

DON’T TURN AROUND, by Jessica Barry. (Harper, 320 pp., $16.99.) In her crime column, Marilyn Stasio wrote that Barry — who publishes under a pseudonym — is one of relatively few female authors who’ve made the foray into the subgenre of books about “heroes on the road.” The protagonist, Cait Monaghan, is fleeing internet trolls who threaten violence after she published an incendiary personal essay.

IN THE LATENESS OF THE WORLD: Poems, by Carolyn Forché. (Penguin, 96 pp., $16.) “A testament to the aftermath of human culture,” as our reviewer, Sandra Simonds, called it, this collection “carries forward her project to document the struggles of people experiencing political disaster.” The result: “poems that are sometimes difficult to reckon with even as they soar in moments of unexpected beauty.”

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