11 New Books We Recommend This Week

Immigrants. Emigrants. Refugees. Exiles. People move all the time, for all different reasons, and it’s not easy even when they speak the language and escape political notice: Just ask anybody who’s ever been the new kid at school. This week we recommend a number of books about the migrant experience, from an expansive new anthology (“The Penguin Book of Migration Literature”) to a deeply reported portrait of one Filipino family (“A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves”) to a story collection about the Haitian diaspora and a novel about immigrant workers in Malaysia.

There are also a couple of takes on true crime (“The Outlaw Ocean” and “Savage Appetites”), along with a moving cancer memoir by the poet Anne Boyer, a study of Maoism’s spread and a political biography of New York’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg. And publishing’s big fall season continues, with a new novel by Stephen King and an essay collection by the British novelist Rachel Cusk.

Gregory Cowles
Senior Editor, Books
Twitter: @GregoryCowles

THE UNDYING: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care, by Anne Boyer. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Soon after she turned 41, the poet and essayist Boyer learned she had triple-negative breast cancer, one of the deadliest kinds. “The Undying” is partly a memoir of her illness, but it also includes far-reaching thoughts about being a woman and about health care in the United States. It’s an “extraordinary and furious” book, our critic Jennifer Szalai writes. “Her story, told with searing specificity, is just one narrative thread in a book that reflects on the possibility — or necessity — of finding common cause in individual suffering.”

COVENTRY: Essays, by Rachel Cusk. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Cusk, the author of the celebrated “Outline” trilogy of novels, officially swore off autobiography, but these penetrating essays — on driving, home renovation and familial estrangement, among other topics — show her to be an unflinching examiner of the world including herself. Our critic Dwight Garner calls the collection “first-rate, marked by candor and seriousness.”

THE PENGUIN BOOK OF MIGRATION LITERATURE: Departures, Arrivals, Generations, Returns, edited by Dohra Ahmad. (Penguin, $17.) This collection of writings about migration includes excerpts from work by Phillis Wheatley, Edwidge Danticat (who also contributes the foreword), Salman Rushdie, Marjane Satrapi, Zadie Smith and others. The book “seeks to refine and enlarge our definition of migrant literature,” our critic Parul Sehgal writes. “These stories and poems push back against the fallacies that migration is always elective; that migrants are always keen to leave their home countries; that migration is one-way, and necessarily leads to a better fate.”

THE INSTITUTE, by Stephen King. (Scribner, $30.) In King’s most frightening books — like this one, about the abduction of psychically gifted children — the evil is perpetrated not by supernatural creatures, but by ordinary people like you and me. Our reviewer, Laura Miller, says the novel is “as consummately honed and enthralling as the very best of his work. … How do you maintain your dignity and your humanity in an environment designed to strip you of both? That theme, such an urgent one in literature from the 20th century onward, falls well within King’s usual purview.”

WE, THE SURVIVORS, by Tash Aw. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) The protagonist of Aw’s latest novel, a Malaysian man of modest means, has committed murder and served jail time for it; as he unspools his story, it becomes a searching commentary on the desperate conditions of the largely invisible work force propelling the global economy. “Aw is a precise stylist; with a few, lean images, he evokes a country on the cusp of change: a sofa still sheathed in plastic to protect it from everyday life, the rusting tin for Danish butter cookies now holding a man’s life savings,” writes our reviewer, Hannah Beech (The Times’s Southeast Asia bureau chief in Bangkok). “The laborers who built modern Malaysia, Aw reminds us, are destined for obscurity, each layer of cement and heavy load they carry crushing who they really are.”

THE OUTLAW OCEAN: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier, by Ian Urbina. (Knopf, $30.) Urbina’s riveting chronicle of crime and lawlessness on the high seas — based on a series of deeply reported features for The New York Times — ranges from Somalia to the Philippines to the Antarctic, profiling pirates, slavers, poachers and others. “Urbina highlights how, in overlooking the seas, we’ve allowed that void to become a vacuum for corruption, violence and lawlessness, a stage for gruesome deaths and even more gruesome lives,” Blair Braverman writes in her review. “And then he brings us into intimate contact with those lives, forcing witness.”

EVERYTHING INSIDE: Stories, by Edwidge Danticat. (Knopf, $25.95.) The unreliability of the human heart connects many of the stories in this beautiful book, throughout which Danticat’s birthplace, Haiti, emerges in almost mythic fashion as a land that exists both in the past and the present even as it remains largely invisible. “Apart from the land and people of Haiti,” Aminatta Forna writes in her review, the book’s defining qualities “are Danticat’s precise yet emotionally charged prose and the way she has curated this slim volume, bringing its elements together to create a satisfying whole.”

THE MANY LIVES OF MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, by Eleanor Randolph. (Simon & Schuster, $30.) No one is more closely associated with New York City’s 21st-century renaissance than Michael Bloomberg, and this detailed account of his three terms as mayor, by a former member of the Times editorial board, offers a balanced assessment of both his successes and failures. “Brisk and engaging, ‘The Many Lives’ is more journalistic than novelistic,” our reviewer, David Greenberg, writes, noting that Randolph’s close attention to Bloomberg’s policy initiatives “deals with transit, schools, public health, criminal justice and much more.”

SAVAGE APPETITES: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession, by Rachel Monroe. (Scribner, $26.) Disturbing and absorbing, Monroe’s first book considers women fixated on violent crime: an heiress who renders actual crime scenes in miniature, a young woman who plots a mass murder with a boyfriend she meets online, and more. “Monroe zeroes in on the aftermath of murder, on the morbid curiosity that draws eager civilians toward the crime scene and catapults them into starring roles,” Kaitlin Phillips writes in her review. “Monroe has a knack for nosing a new story out of an old one, like a detective casting fresh eyes on a cold case.”

A GOOD PROVIDER IS ONE WHO LEAVES: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century, by Jason DeParle. (Viking, $28.) DeParle, a veteran Times reporter, followed a single Filipino family for 30 years, from a Manila slum to Riyadh, Dubai and Houston, for this nuanced and cleareyed account of global migration and the search for work. Laura Wides-Muñoz, reviewing it, calls the book a “sweeping, deeply reported tale” that adds “geopolitical and historical dimension to current discussions of migration and nationalism, while never straying far from the story of a single family dispersed by the pressure to survive and provide for its members.”

MAOISM: A Global History, by Julia Lovell. (Knopf, $37.50.) Though Mao Zedong died in 1976, Lovell shows that his influence on third-world revolutionaries has been long-lasting and broad, reaching from Indonesia to Nepal to Peru, and including such revered figures as Nelson Mandela. “The book’s greatest strength is its scope,” Ian Johnson writes in his review. “Lovell traveled widely, used archives and conducted interviews in many countries and synthesized the work of scholars in the growing field of global Cold War studies. She demonstrates how Maoism was more than an amorphous idea, but a strategy pushed by China. … These are big, hefty chapters, making the book an indispensable guide to this vast movement.”

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