Three New Novels from Writers You Love

The wait is over!

By Amanda Lovell, Pam Houston and Alice LaPlante
home toni morrison hilary mantel bodies in one person john irving image
Photograph: Bryan McCay

In One Person

By John Irving

Simon & Schuster

It’s the closeted 1950s, and Billy Abbott is troubled by the teenage crushes he’s been having on all “the wrong people.” His stepfather. His friend’s mother. The curiously androgynous town librarian. The school’s star wrestler. Not to mention his strange attachment to his not-quite-girlfriend’s bra. A mix of comedy, tragedy and mystery (who is Billy’s father, and why did he disappear?), Irving’s latest novel tells two coming-of-age stories: Billy’s, as he grows into a man who likes women, men, and women who used to be men; and our culture’s, as it evolves from the buttoned-up era of Billy’s youth into our more open times. Stonewall happens. AIDS happens. Lovers of all persuasions come and go. What remains at the end of this big bear hug of a book is a simple request: “My dear boy,” says Billy to a young bully, “please don’t put a label on me—don’t make me a category before you get to know me!”  —Amanda Lovell



By Toni Morrison


“They rose up like men . . .” begins Toni Morrison’s 10th novel, set in rural 1950s Georgia, “their raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes.” Witnessed by two young children, brother and sister, the mating dance of horses is a scene of beauty and brutality. As the children watch from their hiding place in the long grass, a group of men arrives to dig a secret grave; they place a body inside, a “black foot with its creamy pink and mud streaked sole.” This remembered horror presages all others—war crimes that haunt the brother, a Korean War veteran; violations the sister endures at the hands of the doctor she works for—until the two reunite at last and begin, incrementally, to heal the wounds inflicted by the world they were born into. In her characteristically breathtaking prose, rich in all the contradictions that make us human, Morrison transforms unthinkable suffering into incomplete but believable redemption. —Pam Houston


Bring Up the Bodies

By Hilary Mantel

Henry Holt and Company

To say that Bring Up the Bodies goes over well-traversed literary terrain would be an understatement. Yet Hilary Mantel gives us an electrifyingly fresh take on the story of Henry VIII and the fall of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, by telling the story from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, the king’s closest adviser. Cromwell tends not to fare well in historical accounts, coming off as a self-serving schemer. Yet Mantel gives us a nuanced portrait of the man as an intelligent and judicious courtier who, although responsible for engineering Boleyn’s conviction, is melancholy, not triumphant, and who (largely) has the good of the English people at heart. Like its predecessor, Mantel’s Booker Prize–winning Wolf Hall, this novel is deeply humanistic and insightful. Its author closes with a direct address to the reader: “There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one.” —Alice LaPlante

Next: 'The Red Book' by Deborah Copaken Kogan

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