Recent titles of interest:
THE LOVE PROOF, by Madeleine Henry. (Atria, $26.) Physics and romance intersect in this novel about a brilliant young scientist who drops her studies for an all-consuming relationship, then returns to the lab to prove that love really can be forever.
APPROPRIATE: A Provocation, by Paisley Rekdal. (Norton, paper, $15.95.) Questions of cultural appropriation often crystallize most acutely in works of literature, from William Styron to Jeanine Cummins. Rekdal, a writing teacher, parses the issue to ask who is “allowed” to write what, and in what contexts.
WANT ME: A Sex Writer’s Journey Into the Heart of Desire, by Tracy Clark-Flory. (Penguin, paper, $16.) A journalist who covers sex and culture (currently as a senior staff writer at Jezebel) recounts her gradual understanding of the social forces and innate psychology that have shaped her own sexual identity.
UNSUNG: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition, edited by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. (Penguin Classics, paper, $22.) This anthology highlights the overlooked role that enslaved people played in emancipation.
CONFESSIONS OF THE FLESH: The History of Sexuality, Volume 4, by Michel Foucault. Edited by Frederic Gros. Translated by Robert Hurley. (Pantheon, $32.50.) The French philosopher explores early Christian views of desire.
What we’re reading:
I love spy novels and live in London, but somehow had never gotten around to reading anything by the British author John le Carré. His obituary in The Times, published in December, intrigued me. I started with his breakthrough novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, written more than 50 years ago but still relevant, with its tales of moral ambiguity, disinformation and betrayal. The protagonist, the lonely and exhausted British agent Alec Leamas, agrees to one last assignment before retiring. Le Carré, who penned the book while working for MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, peppers the novel with clues about the true nature of Leamas’s mission, which takes him into Communist East Germany. But it is not until the very end that the threads come together — when Leamas makes the decision that defines him. I gasped out loud when I read the last two paragraphs.
—Jenny Gross, general assignment reporter,
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