New in Paperback: ‘The Grammarians’ and ‘Edison’

IN BYRON’S WAKE: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter: Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace, by Miranda Seymour. (Pegasus, 568 pp., $19.95.) The biographer of Mary Shelley here “artfully” pairs the embittered bride of one of the “greatest poets and reprobates” of his age — as our reviewer, Stacy Schiff, put it — with the daughter (and future mathematics genius) with whom she was pregnant when he began a long-term incestuous affair with his half sister.

SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE, by Jean Kwok. (Morrow/HarperCollins, 352 pp., $16.99.) Kwok’s third novel about Chinese-American identity “spans generations, continents and language barriers,” our reviewer, Elisabeth Egan, noted, combining “old-fashioned Nancy Drew sleuthing” with “warmth and heart.”

OUR WILD CALLING: How Connecting With Animals Can Transform Our Lives — and Save Theirs, by Richard Louv. (Algonquin, 320 pp., $16.95.) The coiner of the term “nature deficit disorder” brings together “cutting-edge science, longstanding wisdom and recent discoveries, along with wonder and humor,” according to our reviewer, Vicki Constantine Croke, to highlight the “urgent need for humans to make space, share space and get along with” other species.

THE GRAMMARIANS, by Cathleen Schine. (Picador, 272 pp., $17.) Our reviewer, Susan Dominus, called this witty novel about identical twins who’ve been enamored of words since babyhood and struggle to define themselves as individuals “a riveting love story,” comparing its author, who gives herself permission “to revel in language itself,” to Cole Porter.

EDISON, by Edmund Morris. (Random House, 800 pp., $22.) The key takeaway from Morris’s “elegant, loosely crafted, idiosyncratic” biography of Thomas Edison — his final book, completed shortly before his death last year — our reviewer, David Oshinsky, suggested, may be this: “No inventor did more to nudge the world toward modernity, and few had a better feel for what the next generation of inventors might pursue. Topping that list was a plea for a greener country.”

DUNCE, by Mary Ruefle. (Wave Books, 120 pp., $18.) A finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, this poetry collection, in the words of our reviewer, Elisa Gabbert, confronts “the extraordinary yet banal fact that all of us die” — or, to put it more elegantly, life’s inherent “reversal of fortune, our built-in obsolescence.”

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