8 New Books We Recommend This Week
WATERGATE: A New History, by Garrett M. Graff. (Avid Reader, $35.) Employing all of the recent scholarship on the scandal that refuses to die, Graff presents a lively, comprehensive account full of sad, strange and interesting characters, not least of whom was Richard Nixon himself. Douglas Brinkley, reviewing it, calls the book “dazzling”: “Graff explores the dramatic scope of the Watergate saga through its participants,” he writes, and “with granular detail, Graff writes about the white-collar criminals, hatchet men and rogues who populated the outer circles of Nixon’s covert operations.”
CHILEAN POET, by Alejandro Zambra. Translated by Megan McDowell. (Viking, $27.) Zambra’s novel (about, yes, Chile and poetry) follows Gonzalo and Vicente, a father and stepson in Chile who have a complicated relationship both to each other and to poetry. Zambra uses their bond to think through literary, and literal, inheritance. “As its jocular title suggests, ‘Chilean Poet’ complicates the notion of an artistic birthright rooted in national identity while also acknowledging, with a tender and humorous shrug, that it’s not an easy thing to give up,” our contributing essayist, Jennifer Wilson, writes in her review.
STOLEN FOCUS: Why You Can’t Pay Attention — and How to Think Deeply Again, by Johann Hari. (Crown, $28.) The author of “Lost Connections” and “Chasing the Scream” explores how technology disrupts our ability to concentrate. Hari focuses on the experience of living with too much information and stress, too little sleep and navel gazing. “Some of the chapters are inspiring, such as the one that focuses on the concept of flow,” Cathy O’Neil writes, reviewing the book alongside Jacob Ward’s “The Loop” (which is also about technology’s effect on our behavior). “Even just focusing on focus for this much time is useful, and ends up giving the reader a novel and worthwhile way of measuring our quality of attention.”
HOW HIGH WE GO IN THE DARK, by Sequoia Nagamatsu. (Morrow, $27.99.) A devastating virus afflicts the world in this debut novel-in-stories (much of it written pre-Covid), with an array of inventive responses to the plague: among them, euthanasia amusement parks and robotic pets that speak for the dead. “If you’re a short-story lover — as I am — you’ll be impressed with Nagamatsu’s meticulous craft,” Lincoln Michel writes in his review. “If you crave sustained character and plot arcs, well, you’ll have to settle for admiring the well-honed prose, poignant meditations and unique concepts. Hardly small pleasures.”
WOMAN RUNNING IN THE MOUNTAINS, by Yuko Tsushima. Translated by Geraldine Harcourt. (New York Review Books, paper, $17.95.) Originally published in 1980, this subtly powerful novel follows a single mother named Takiko, struggling to define herself while managing the pressures of parenthood. “Her son becomes a source of unfathomable joy despite remaining something of a mystery,” Anderson Tepper writes, reviewing the book with three other works of international fiction. “When Takiko meets Kambayashi, a soft-spoken gardener, her complex range of emotions only intensifies, and the novel truly takes flight.”