“On the Come Up,” by Angie Thomas (HarperCollins)
Thomas’s debut, “The Hate U Give,” rocketed to the top of best-seller lists and was made into an equally acclaimed movie. Now, in her hotly anticipated second novel, she explores a different side of black life, with the story of a young girl who aspires to be a rapper and faces the difficulties of making her voice heard.
In James’s epic new novel, the hunt is underway for a missing child, who may be the heir to the throne of an ancient African empire. The book, the first in a projected trilogy, has been compared to an African “Game of Thrones.” References to everything from Marvel Comics to Gabriel García Márquez abound in this genre-bending story from a Man Booker Prize-winning writer.
A family’s cross-country road trip coincides with an immigration conflict at the border. Luiselli’s latest novel strikes a balance between urgent, present-day concerns (the dangers of crossing the border, especially for the youngest migrants) and an intimate domestic story. The small, unconventional family at its heart is as committed to keeping itself whole as are the loved ones who risk their lives in coming to America.
When an unconscious woman, Bertha Truitt, turns up in a Massachusetts cemetery at the start of McCracken’s novel (her first in 18 years), the town’s residents are understandably intrigued — and skeptical. Bertha manages to win them over after marrying the doctor who revives her and opening a candlepin bowling alley, which soon becomes the town’s most notable landmark. But Bertha’s death in a freak accident reveals more of her mysterious past, and raises questions about inheritance and betrayals.
In this Korean novel, an unnamed narrator meditates on the older sister she never knew, who died as a newborn. Kang (whose novel “The Vegetarian” was one of the Book Review’s 10 Best Books in 2016) uses starkly white objects — breast milk, swaddling bands, the baby’s rice cake-colored skin — to explore the tragedy and its consequences in lyrical, strikingly visual fashion.
The Nobel laureate’s collection of speeches, essays and other writings touches on everything from human rights to female empowerment to the place of artists in society, and also includes commentary on her own work. Some notable selections: a eulogy for James Baldwin, a prayer for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and a meditation on Martin Luther King Jr.
The abduction in 1972 of Jean McConville, a mother of 10 in Belfast, became one of the most infamous episodes in recent Irish history. Though it was widely assumed the I.R.A. was behind the crime, the era’s climate of fear and paranoia prevented anyone from speaking of it. Keefe, a staff writer at The New Yorker, delves into the case, using it as a jumping-off point to investigate the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its lasting aftermath.
This modern treatment of the landmark 1896 case, which protected segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine, examines its long-lasting ramifications. Luxenberg gives a three-dimensional and almost novelistic treatment to the players involved, drawing on diaries, letters and archival research.
Malcolm is a master of nonfiction, and these pieces (most of them first published in The New Yorker or The New York Review of Books) touch on subjects from Eileen Fisher to Rachel Maddow to email etiquette. In their range and verve, they confirm Malcolm’s ability as a literary journalist to connect her work to the cultural moment.
Mallon, a veteran of political fiction, has written a blackly comic novel set during George W. Bush’s tenure as the administration grappled with two catastrophes: Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. At the center of the story are two West Texans in Washington rekindling a romance, along with a parade of appearances by well-known administration officials: Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and others.
It’s been 33 years since a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in what was then Soviet Ukraine exploded, killing several dozen people, with fallout eventually sickening thousands more and creating a long-term ecological crisis. The journalist Adam Higginbotham spent more than a decade interviewing eyewitnesses and studying declassified Soviet documents to write this history of the disaster.
“The Border,” by Don Winslow (Morrow)
“The Border” completes a sweeping trilogy about the war on drugs, begun with “The Power of the Dog” (2005) and continued in “The Cartel” (2015). Having dealt with Mexican drug cartels and the global war on terrorism, Winslow now delves into the opioid crisis, among other things. “It’s one of the big reasons that I wanted to write the book,” he said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly last year, “to show how a corrupt and venal political climate is directly related to the heroin epidemic, mass incarceration, the disgrace of our immigration policies.”