10 New Books We Recommend This Week

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PEACES, by Helen Oyeyemi. (Riverhead, $27.) In her latest novel — set on an esoteric, ramshackle, Wes Anderson-esque train to nowhere — Oyeyemi achieves the impossible: She unstirs the soup, reconstituting the links that bind her eccentric cast of characters to one another. “Oyeyemi is a master of leaps of thought and inference, of shifty velocity, and the story’s long setup has the discombobulating quality of walking through a moving vehicle while carrying a full-to-the-brim cup of very hot tea,” Alexandra Kleeman writes in her review. “Though the narrative never strays from a tone that is light, agile and unsentimental, here its emotional stakes are clarified: What are the consequences of going unseen by the one person whom you most wish to perceive you?”

THE BOMBER MAFIA: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War, by Malcolm Gladwell. (Little, Brown, $27.) Gladwell re-examines the difficult choices that were made to defeat Japan in World War II, and finds an unlikely hero in Curtis LeMay, the man who masterminded the ferocious bombing of Tokyo in 1945. “One of Gladwell’s skills is enabling us to see the world through the eyes of his subjects,” Thomas E. Ricks writes in his review. “Gladwell is a wonderful storyteller. When he is introducing characters and showing them in conflict, ‘The Bomber Mafia’ is gripping. I enjoyed this short book thoroughly, and would have been happy if it had been twice as long.”

CATHEDRAL, by Ben Hopkins. (Europa, $28.) With intersecting plots about the construction of an enormous church in medieval Alsace, Hopkins has constructed a clever commentary on the ironies of history. He shows how a trading empire can have its roots in something as simple as the theft of a wig, and how forbidden love can lead to a lonely death or to the birth of a new community. “‘Cathedral’ reveals the mercantile aspect of daily existence,” Alida Becker writes in her latest historical fiction column. “Hopkins is a filmmaker as well as a novelist, so it’s no surprise that he should stock his pages with tension-filled scenes. There are plenty of villains in this parade of skirmishes and subterfuges, and few who might pass as heroes.”

ALLEGORIZINGS, by Jan Morris. (Liveright, $24.95.) This posthumous essay collection from the historian and travel writer Morris, who died last year at 94, ranges from a brief ode to sneezing to an alternative history for Princess Diana. Charming discoveries abound, but it is her reflections on aging and mortality that stay in the mind. “Some fine writers, granted the luck of long lives and clear minds, go on publishing after it would have been kind for someone to tell them to stop,” Sarah Moss writes in her review, “but a precious few report with wisdom, kindness and intelligence from the end to which we shall all come — travel of a different kind. This is such a book.”

SUBDIVISION, by J. Robert Lennon. (Graywolf, paper, $16.) Lennon’s ninth novel is a dazzling puzzle box: The narrator arrives in a town full of mysteries, and each chapter provides a clue to besting the danger ahead. Folkloric elements, including a stalking crow and a shape-shifting demon, carry the reader along until quantum physics takes hold of the plot. “Is the Subdivision a place, an emotion or an event lodged in the back of the mind?” Hilary Leichter writes in her review. “Is it limbo, or a wall persuaded to shield us from the truth? Lennon is a masterly aggregator of dread. His refusal to neatly answer these questions allows for a bold, unsettling narrative to take shape.”

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