New in Paperback: ‘The Dutch House’ and ‘The Nation City’

THE DUTCH HOUSE, by Ann Patchett. (Harper Perennial, 352 pp., $17.) This modern-day brother-and-sister fairy tale, which was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, “takes a winding road through the forest and doesn’t rush to a finish,” Martha Southgate, our reviewer, wrote. “But if you allow yourself to walk along with Patchett, you’ll find riches at the end of the trail. And you won’t end up shoved into an oven.”

DEAD ASTRONAUTS, by Jeff VanderMeer. (Picador, 336 pp., $17.) Set in a “blasted desert hellscape,” this post-climate-change novel is about three astronauts who visit multiple alternate universes, dying over and over in an attempt to destroy the sinister biotech company VanderMeer introduced in “Borne” (2017). Our reviewer, Chelsea Leu, called this book “terrifying” and “transcendent.”

THE NATION CITY: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World, by Rahm Emanuel. (Vintage, 256 pp., $16.95.) While failing to “engage fully with the dynamics of race and class that continue to shape American cities,” the former mayor of Chicago and White House chief of staff under Barack Obama “makes a strong case for the vitality of local governance in an age of dysfunction,” in what our reviewer, Mason B. Williams, referred to as a “spirited manifesto.”

NANAVILLE: Adventures in Grandparenting, by Anna Quindlen. (Random House, 176 pp., $16.) In this “witty and thoughtful” essay collection, according to our reviewer, Olivia Gentile, the best-selling novelist and former Times columnist serves up “vivid anecdotes and fresh insights — about childhood, about parenthood, about grandparenthood and about life.”

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CARSON MCCULLERS: A Memoir, by Jenn Shapland. (Tin House, 296 pp., $16.95.) It is often “by inhabiting the lives of others” that we “glimpse pieces of our own,” Megan O’Grady admiringly noted in her review of this National Book Award finalist. Shapland did just that, going so far as to cut her hair short, dress like McCullers and, during a writing residency, live in McCullers’s childhood home.

OLIGARCHY, by Scarlett Thomas. (Counterpoint, 240 pp., $16.95.) In this darkly comic novel — about a “mass-psychogenic, contagious version” of anorexia among privileged teenage girls at a British boarding school — the father of the main character is a rich Russian criminal. And fat is “a socioeconomic marker,” our reviewer, Lydia Millet, explained, praising Thomas’s “sharp,” sadness-tinged humor.

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