2013 Book Preview

‘Coolidge’ by Amity Shlaes. 576 pp. Harper. $35.

You can put aside all those best-of-2012 lists, because you’re not going to ever get to any of them. Instead, as winter draws us in and keeps us home—or (if we’re lucky) on the beach—give it a fresh start with a few to get excited about as 2013 gets started. There are more, of course, later this spring, with the return of our great sensualist James Salter, David Sedaris having more fun with animals, Michael Pollan’s history of cooking, J.M. Coetzee on the childhood of Jesus, Mary Roach going inside our stomachs, Claire Messud’s schoolteacher, and more. But let’s not take on too much too soon. We don’t want a repeat of what happened in 2012…

—Lucas Wittmann

by Amity Shlaes

After a controversial and engaging reinterpretation of the Great Depression in her last book, Amity 
Shlaes takes a step back in time to suggest that Coolidge, punchline of presidents, deserves more credit than history has given him. Expect this book to be the most debated biography of the season, with its unavoidable echoes of and lessons for our own time. (Out Feb. 12)


Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief ‘Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief’ by Lawrence Wright. 448 pp. Knopf. $29.

Going Clear
by Lawrence Wright

Al Qaeda or Scientology, which is more impenetrable? Our money is on the cultish church, as Wright expands on his New Yorker article about film director Paul Haggis’s departure from Scientology and conducts more than 200 interviews with current and former members to understand why Hollywood performers are so tempted by the organization. (Out Jan. 17)

—Jimmy So

The Book of My Lives ‘The Book of My Lives’ by Aleksandar Hemon. 224 pp. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $25.

Tthe Book of My Lives
by Aleksandar Hemon

One of the happier recent phenomena in American publishing has been the popular success of exceptional essay collections (from Katie Roiphe, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Elif Batuman, and others). Bets are on Aleksandar Hemon’s wise and entrancing memoir-in-essays to be the next. (Out March 19)


Vampires in the Lemon Grove ‘Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories’ by Karen Russell. 256 pp. Knopf. $25.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

by Karen Russell

All of 31, and Russell has already had a whiff of victory, but not quite tasted it. (Her debut novel was one of three fiction finalists in a year when no Pulitzer was awarded.) Russell's second story collection proves that prize hijinks aren’t distracting her. The title story is as advertised—two married vampires talking in a lemon grove. The second offering is about daughters of samurai warriors. What surprises spring from Russell’s imagination, and how her creativity captures the way we humans think. (Out Feb. 12)


Invisible Armies ‘Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present’ by Max Boot. 784 pp. Liveright. $35.

Invisible Armies
by Max Boot

The word “magisterial” is bandied about far too freely these days, but in the case of Max Boot’s sweeping and deeply researched history of guerrilla warfare, it proves fair. Somewhere in the first third of Boot’s book, you begin to realize that guerrilla wars (and terrorism and insurgencies) are the way we fight, while the formal set battles of, say, the Napoleonic wars are but an exception. (I must declare an interest here: I worked at Boot’s publisher when his book was first acquired.) (Out Jan. 21)


Detroit ‘Detroit: An American Autopsy’ by Charlie LeDuff. 304 pp. Penguin Press HC. $28.

Detroit: An American Autopsy
by Charlie Leduff

What to do when you’re a reporter and your native city is rotting away? If you’re LeDuff, you leave The New York Times and head into the wreckage to ride with firemen, hang with the corrupt pols, and retrace your own family’s sad steps through drugs. Others have written well about the city, but none with the visceral anger, the hair-tearing frustration, and the hungry humanity of LeDuff. (Out Feb. 7)


How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia ‘How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel’ by Mohsin Hamid. 240 pp. Riverhead Hardcover. $27.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
by Mohsin Hamid

Hamid’s last novel was a perfectly timed and refreshing window into one man’s Islamist radicalization; his new book does the same for an equally radical transformation of a pauper to tycoon, told in the style of a bestselling self-help book. Written in the most compelling second person since Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, with which 
it also shares a sharp take on our frenetic, urban lives, Hamid’s novel proves that the most compelling fiction today is coming from South Asia. (Out March 5)


Wise Men ‘Wise Men: A Novel’ by Stuart Nadler. 352 pp. Reagan Arthur Books. $26.

Wise Men
by Stuart Nadler

Here’s a recipe for a perfect novel: one part Cape Cod in summer; another part a wealthy family riven by secrets; another, racial intrigue, as its scion falls for a black woman; and stir for a delicious read. Though set in the early 1950s, Nadler’s novel should tide over those Mad Men fans with shaky hands. (Out Feb. 5)


What the Family Needed ‘What the Family Needed’ by Steven Amsterdam. 272 pp. Riverhead. $27.

What the Family Needed

by Steven Amsterdam

Two years after his stellar collection of the most human apocalypse stories (Things We Didn’t See Coming), Amsterdam delivers an equally impressive book about an extended family in which each member discovers superpowers just when he really needs them. Haven’t we all always dreamed of that? (Out March 21)