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10 New Books We Recommend This Week


FEELING & KNOWING: Making Minds Conscious, by Antonio Damasio. (Pantheon, $26.) In his latest book, the neuroscientist expands on his ideas about the importance of feeling — which, he thinks, can bridge the conceptual abyss between the body and the mind. When feelings and images come together in the brain, he says, the result is conscious thought. “How beautifully Damasio expatiates on the theme of feeling,” Jim Holt writes in his review. “The master scientist unites with the silken prose-stylist to produce one thrilling insight after another. … He has succeeded brilliantly in narrowing the gap between body and mind.”

BURNING BOY: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane, by Paul Auster. (Holt, $35.) Multiple biographies of Crane have been published over the past century, but none quite like this one. Auster, the esteemed postmodernist, has taken it upon himself to restore his subject to his rightful place in the canon. It’s often thrilling to see a contemporary writer engage so deeply with one of his forebears. “In the end, Auster leaves you in no doubt about Crane’s genius,” Charles McGrath writes in his review. “He really was a prodigy, and his voice and style — sharp, observant, devoid of moralizing or sentimentality — were something brand-new in American letters.”

WHERE YOU COME FROM, by Sasa Stanisic. Translated by Damion Searls. (Tin House, paper, $17.95.) This autobiographical novel traces a family’s history after the breakup of Yugoslavia. With dry wit and a jumble of genres, the narrator recalls his years in Germany and revisits the Bosnian village where his ancestors are buried, a world transformed by war. “Damion Searls’s translation does justice to Stanisic’s dry wit and linguistic playfulness, and captures the tense undercurrents building throughout the book,” Irina Dumitrescu writes in her review. “Though shot through with trauma, ‘Where You Come From’ is also funny and moving. … Ordinary and accidental, this is the quiet beauty of immigrant life.”

THE INTERIM, by Wolfgang Hilbig. Translated by Isabel Fargo Cole. (Two Lines Press, $22.95.) C., the antihero of Hilbig’s novel, is an alcoholic writer who leaves East Germany a few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a flurry of travel and binges, he’s both seduced and repelled by the West’s novelties and permissiveness — a funny yet anguished mind caught between competing visions of the world. “It can’t be easy for a writer to recognize that his sensibility was shaped irrevocably by a world that was deeply compromised and is no longer relevant,” Caleb Crain writes in his review, “though it has to be said that this is more or less the plight of any writer who has had the misfortune of surviving his youth.”

JUSTICE ON THE BRINK: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months That Transformed the Supreme Court, by Linda Greenhouse. (Random House, $28.) Greenhouse, the dean of Supreme Court journalists, traces a year of decisions in the 2020-21 term — the court’s first since Amy Coney Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg — and gestures to the major cases yet to come. In his review, Noah Feldman says that “no one can recount judicial decisions as accessibly and intelligently as Greenhouse” and points out that, because the court sidestepped many significant issues during the period in question, the book has an anticipatory air: “‘Justice on the Brink’ is quite literally a book about the highest court (and Barrett) being on the brink of potentially doing extreme things, like overturning Roe. … If some or all of this drama occurs in the months and years ahead, one can only be comforted by the knowledge that Linda Greenhouse will be here to write about it.”


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