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8 New Books We Recommend This Week

PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED: A Memoir, by Edward Sorel. (Knopf, $30.) At 92, the veteran artist has indeed led a profusely illustrated life, with credits including New Yorker covers, cartoons in New York magazine, caricatures in Vanity Fair and much more. This memoir traces his life from his childhood in the Depression-era Bronx through his artistic education and enduring success. Our reviewer Sadie Stein writes: “Warm, affectionate, often angry but never cruel, cynical but not without a certain faith in people, Sorel gives us a life — and a world — in pictures.”

THE BLACK PRESIDENT: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama, by Claude A. Clegg III. (Johns Hopkins, $34.95.) In examining the meaning of the Obama presidency for Black Americans, Clegg shows that Black voters were steadfastly committed to the administration while the community’s leaders were often frustrated and disappointed. “The book overall is a gracefully written, scrupulously balanced and quite satisfying account of what Obama meant for Black Americans,” our reviewer Orlando Patterson writes.

CREATIVE TYPES: And Other Stories, by Tom Bissell. (Pantheon, $26.95.) The stories in Bissell’s new collection often begin as comic sketches or cold satire, portraits of unrepentant malice; but at their best, as they grow up and out of their black humor and their ironically arched brows, they gradually show readers their own troubled reflections. “On every page of this book Bissell sees life with mordant clarity and finds words not only to describe it but to reanimate it,” Zachary Lazar writes in his review.

A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE FUTURE: What the Laws of Biology Tell Us About the Destiny of the Human Species, by Rob Dunn. (Basic, $30.) Dunn, an ecologist, sketches an arresting vision of the unguided and extravagant natural world. “Life is not a passive force on the planet, and much as we might presume to sit in judgment of Creation — even sorting species by their economic value to us — we live on nature’s terms,” our reviewer Peter Brannen writes. “The sooner we recognize this, Dunn argues, the better.”

SMALL THINGS LIKE THESE, by Claire Keegan. (Grove, $20.) Set just before Christmas in 1985, this slim novel follows a coal and timber merchant in an Irish village who confronts the grim shadow cast by the country’s Magdalene laundries. “Keegan’s prose, as she describes this trapped-in-amber world, is both nostalgic and practical: The scope of village life may be small, but its texture is rich,” Lydia Millet writes in her review.

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