Whether it’s the heat you hate or the humidity, an armchair trip might help cure your summer doldrums. We recommend Antarctica — Ashley Shelby’s novel, “South Pole Station,” follows a painter’s adventures in the land of the penguins — or upstate New York, where the family at the center of J. Robert Lennon’s “Broken River” gets caught up in their new home’s not-quite-ghost story. Also on our list this week: Kamila Shamsie’s “Home Fire,” a powerful novel inspired by “Antigone”; Tom Perrotta’s first novel since “The Leftovers”; and Joshua Green’s deeply reported account of Steve Bannon’s alliance with Donald Trump. And if you’d rather really get away from it all, have a look at Robert Wright’s “Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.”
Editorial Director, Books
HOME FIRE, by Kamila Shamsie. (Riverhead Books, $26.) Shamsie’s novel, longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, is a bold retelling of Sophocles’ “Antigone” that follows the lives of three British siblings of Pakistani descent. It plays freely with Sophocles’ drama but hews to its themes: civil disobedience, fidelity and the law, especially as regards burial rights. Our critic Dwight Garner called it an “ingenious and love-struck” book that “builds to one of the most memorable final scenes I’ve read in a novel this century.”
REFUGE, by Dina Nayeri. (Riverhead Books, $27.) Niloo, the protagonist of Nayeri’s novel, left Iran at 8 years old, along with her mother and brother. It was the last time she shared a home with her father. She has seen him just four times over the course of the last 22 years. The strains and indignities that come with remaking a life give Niloo’s story poignancy and relevance. Our critic Jennifer Senior said the novel “has the kind of immediacy commonly associated with memoir, which lends it heft, intimacy, atmosphere.”
MRS. FLETCHER, by Tom Perrotta. (Scribner, $26.) Perrotta’s seventh novel — his first since 2011’s “The Leftovers” — succeeds in ways that will be pleasingly familiar to his admirers. The story of a divorced mother and her college-age son, both navigating the pursuit and pitfalls of sexual pleasure, it is the sweetest and most charming novel about pornography addiction and the harrowing issues of sexual consent that you will ever read.
BROKEN RIVER, by J. Robert Lennon. (Graywolf, paper, $16.) This crafty, seductive novel, Lennon’s eighth, is not quite a ghost story, but it does involve a mysterious entity called the Observer. A budding novelist’s research into the unsolved murder that took place in the house where her family has moved attracts the attention of the killers. As the plot thickens, Lennon’s novel becomes a playful, sophisticated meditation on storytelling itself.
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