12 New Books We Recommend This Week


LETTERS TO CAMONDO, by Edmund de Waal. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) The fabulously rich Camondos figured amongst fin de siècle Paris’s most distinguished French Jews. Addressed to their patriarch, this elegiac meditation recounts the household’s tragic historical past and tenderly evokes their stately residence crammed with objets d’artwork, now a museum. “The book follows de Waal as he wanders from room to room in the museum, commenting on its treasures and offering quietly profound reflections on French Jewish history, the nature of collecting and the vicissitudes of memory,” Maurice Samuels writes in his evaluate. “At the end of the book, de Waal wrestles with his own ambivalence about serving as a guardian of the Jewish past.”

A LITTLE DEVIL IN AMERICA: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, by Hanif Abdurraqib. (Random House, $27.) Abdurraqib, a poet, cultural critic and essayist, makes use of the tales of Black performers to make highly effective observations about race in America, gliding by means of music, tv, movie, minstrel exhibits and vaudeville. The ebook can also be a candid self-portrait, written with sincerity and emotion. The writer “notes that there has never been a shortage of Black people willing to perform their Blackness for the right audience,” Lauretta Charlton writes in her evaluate: “Bert Williams, the vaudeville comedian, wore blackface to get a job at the Ziegfeld Follies, performing his Blackness so well that white critics said he ‘transcended race.’”

PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS: A Memoir, by Brian Broome. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.) Broome’s coming-of-age memoir explores Black manhood and queerness within the Rust Belt, and the pressures that Black queer boys face to vary. Broome pairs his personal story with a scene he witnessed, of a father screaming at his younger son. Broome “refuses to pare down his interrogation of manhood, and he offers up his own life as a window, writing with lyricism, vividness and unflinching honesty as he ushers readers through the stages of his becoming,” Darnell L. Moore writes in his evaluate.

REVIVAL SEASON, by Monica West. (Simon & Schuster, $26.) In this atmospheric novel, a Baptist household travels throughout the South, spreading “the word of God like manna to the starving.” Their misadventures are narrated by 16-year-old Miriam, who’s starting to query her religion in her father. “West creates a vivid, intimate world on the page, dramatizing the compromises evangelical women must make,” Hamilton Cain writes in his evaluate. “Redemption, as Miriam realizes, comes in many guises.”

HOME MADE: A Story of Grief, Groceries, Showing Up — and What We Make When We Make Dinner, by Liz Hauck. (Dial, $27.) Hauck’s absorbing memoir describes the cooking membership she ran at a residential residence for adolescent boys in Boston. “Systems fail but food is revolutionary,” she writes. Kate Christensen, reviewing the ebook, says that Hauck “writes with such unvarnished clarity and pragmatism, sudden moments of tenderness burst open on the page. … It turns out that showing up to cook and eat with people once a week allows for startlingly deep moments of connection and community. That’s all that happens. And it’s extraordinary.”

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