In 'The Mare,' Mary Gaitskill wonders how closely we can ride together

Books / Books News /

"The Mare: A Novel" by Mary Gaitskill; Pantheon (464 pages, $26.95)

As its title suggests, Mary Gaitskill's "The Mare" -- her first novel in 10 years -- prominently features a once-abused horse, kept in an upstate New York barn and named Fugly Girl because of her scarred face and nasty attitude.

But "The Mare" also spends three years in the ...Read more

Edmund de Waal's 'The White Road': a pure obsession

Books / Books News /

"The White Road: Journey Into an Obsession" by Edmund de Waal; Farrar, Strauss and Giroux (403 pages, $27)

It is rare for someone to write as well as Edmund de Waal, all the more since it's his secondary vocation.

De Waal's first book, "The Hare with Amber Eyes" -- which he humbly calls "my book about netsuke" -- traces the path of a ...Read more

Review: 'Fortune Smiles' by Adam Johnson

Books / Books News /

"Fortune Smiles" by Adam Johnson; Random (304 pages, $27)

If the best stories are the works that dig their way into your brain and refuse to come out, then Adam Johnson's new collection has truly earned its accolades. The six lean, disturbing, unforgettable works in "Fortune Smiles," which won the National Book Award for fiction last week, are ...Read more

'Concussion' recounts how one doctor challenged NFL culture of denial

Books / Books News /

"Concussion" by Jeanne Marie Laskas; Random House (288 pages, $16)

It took a complete outsider to pierce the National Football League's institutional denial about the traumatic brain injuries of its former players.

Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian immigrant, barely knew what American football was. He became a forensic pathologist autopsying the dead ...Read more

'Drinking in America' shows how our history was shaped while under the influence

Books / Books News /

"Drinking in America: Our Secret History" by Susan Cheever; Twelve (272 pages, $28)

If you've watched "Drunk History," the Comedy Central series in which someone gets a little tipsy before recounting important events from United States history, you already know alcohol can play a humorous role in the retelling of our collective story as a ...Read more

'Tales of Accidental Genius' short stories elevated by sparse, intense writing

Books / Books News /

"Tales of Accidental Genius" by Simon Van Booy (247 pages; Harper Perennial; $14.99)

Simon Van Booy's "Tales of Accidental Genius" -- six short stories and a novella -- feels like a soft-spoken friend whispering stories to you about searching for kindness in a mundane world. In a smooth style all his own, Van Booy crafts beautiful sentences ...Read more

RED TEAM: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy

Micah Zenko
ISBN 978-0465048946
298 pages

Reviewed by Carlos Lozada

The terrorists come to shore at the South Street Seaport and scatter throughout Manhattan on foot and in cabs. They detonate bombs and shoot ...Read more

1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History

Jay Winik
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 978-1439114087
639 pages

Reviewed by Gerard DeGroot

Judging by the title of this book, Jay Winik seems to think that the year 1944 "changed history." He never explains how, nor does he ...Read more


Robert Service
ISBN 978-1610394994
643 pages

Reviewed by James Mann

After President Barack Obama concluded his nuclear agreement with Iran last summer, not only Obama's supporters but even Brent Scowcroft,...Read more

WE TOO SING AMERICA: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future

Deepa Iyer
New Press
ISBN 978-1620970140
229 pages

Reviewed by Eboo Patel

One year after 9/11, the Department of Justice established the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. NSEERS required nonimmigrant ...Read more

SAM PHILLIPS: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll

Peter Guralnick
Little, Brown
ISBN 978-0316042741
763 pages

Reviewed by Charles Hughes

Throughout his life, Sam Phillips, who founded Sun Records and launched the careers of artists such as Johnny Cash, Howlin' Wolf, B....Read more

Best Audiobooks of 2015

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Reviewed by na


Reviewed by Katherine A. Powers


By Anthony Marra. Random House Audio. Unabridged, 10 3/4 hours...Read more

Captain Comics: A holiday gift guide that's out of this world

Books / Comic Books /

Worried that you won't be able to find the perfect gift for the fanboy or fangirl in your family this holiday season? Fret not, O mundane one, and simply consult the Captain Comics Holiday Gift Guide below!

First, let's assume you're fabulously wealthy, with an Uncle Scrooge money bin where you can swim around in your cash like a porpoise. In...Read more


John Williams
New York Review Books
ISBN 9781590179284
336 pages

Reviewed by Elaine Showalter, who is a professor emerita of English at Princeton University.

The 50th-anniversary edition of John Williams' "Stoner" ...Read more

THE EDUCATION OF KEVIN POWELL: A Boy's Journey into Manhood

Kevin Powell
ISBN 978-1439163689
285 pages

Reviewed by Gerald Early, who is professor of English and of African and African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He is also the editor of the university's...Read more


Michael Connelly
Little, Brown
ISBN 978-0316225885
388 pages

Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan, who is the book critic for the NPR program "Fresh Air," teaches literature at Georgetown University.

Any Michael Connelly fan ...Read more

NAPOLEON: Soldier of Destiny

Michael Broers
ISBN 978-1605988726
585 pages

Reviewed by Michael Dirda, who is a regular book reviewer for The Washington Post Style section and the author, most recently, of "Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting ...Read more


Isabel Allende
Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson
ISBN 978-1501116971
322 pages

Reviewed by Ron Charles, who is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. You can follow him on Twitter @...Read more

Biography makes case for legacy of 'Roots' author Alex Haley

Books / Books News /

"Alex Haley: And the Books That Changed a Nation" by Robert J. Norrell; St. Martin's Press (272 pages, $27)

Alex Haley was a working freelance writer, not an ideologue. Yet he wrote two of the 20th century's chief texts of African-American consciousness: "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and the saga "Roots." The latter was adapted for a ...Read more

'Young Orson' offers richly detailed, nuanced portrait of Welles' rise

Books / Books News /

"Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to 'Citizen Kane' by Patrick McGilligan; Harper (832 pages, $35)

One of Orson Welles' more famous fiascos -- and there were a few -- is titled "It's All True."

That title can never be applied to Welles himself. You'd be hard-pressed to find a figure in American arts around whom more ...Read more