BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE, by Trent Dalton. (HarperPerennial, 464 pp., $16.99.) A mysterious voice on the red phone in his family’s secret escape room adds a dose of magical realism to the Australian journalist Dalton’s debut novel — a mix of romance, suspense, organized crime and humor that our reviewer, Amelia Lester, called “thrilling.”
BRINGING DOWN THE COLONEL: A Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the “Powerless” Woman Who Took on Washington, by Patricia Miller. (Picador, 400 pp., $20.) Miller began working on this book about the young Madeline Pollard, who won a landmark “breach of promise to marry” suit against a much older congressman, years before the “reckonings of #MeToo,” our critic Jennifer Szalai observed. “But what she found is a story from the 19th century that rumbles and resonates in our own.”
THE OTHER AMERICANS, by Laila Lalami. (Vintage, 320 pp., $16.) The nine narrators of this National Book Award-nominated novel about the hit-and-run death of an immigrant restaurant owner in “a post-9/11, post-Iraq-war America of declining productivity” all “see themselves as outsiders to mainstream American identity,” our reviewer, Madeleine Thien, wrote.
A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II, by Sonia Purnell. (Penguin, 368 pp., $18.) After making a daring escape from the Nazis across the Pyrenees, despite having lost a leg, Virginia Hall returned to France to direct D-Day resistance operations. Our reviewer, Mick Herron, found Purnell’s biography of the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines “as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.”
AUTUMN LIGHT: Season of Fire and Farewells, by Pico Iyer. (Vintage, 256 pp., $16.) The “brief ruminations, notations, vignettes” that make up this combination memoir and homage to Japan by the renowned essayist and travel writer reflect Iyer’s reverence for his adopted home country’s “aesthetic of enhancement through subtraction, ‘the Japanese art of taking more and more away to charge the few things that remain,’” our reviewer, Phillip Lopate, wrote.
FUNNY MAN: Mel Brooks, by Patrick McGilligan. (HarperPerennial, 656 pp., $19.99.) While our reviewer, Dave Itzkoff, called this biography of the “wildly talented — emphasis, occasionally, on wild” comedian and filmmaker “overstuffed,” he noted that McGilligan has nonetheless painted an illuminating portrait of an artist “whose intensity both advanced and impeded him.”