New this week:
OLD IN ART SCHOOL By Nell Painter. (Counterpoint, $26.) At 64, retired from her job as a historian, Painter does the unexpected: She decides to get a B.F.A. and M.F.A. in painting. After enduring teachers and students who tell her she’ll never really be an artist, she spends a lot of time meditating on the question of who is allowed to create art. THE SEVENTH CROSS By Anna Seghers. Translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo. (New York Review Books, paper, $16.95.) Seghers, writing in 1938, laid out her plan for this novel in a letter: “A tale that makes it possible to get to know the many layers of fascist Germany through the fortunes of a single man.” She delivers with this thriller, offering an incredible portrait of resistance. ADJUSTMENT DAY By Chuck Palahniuk. (Norton, $26.95.) The chronicler of male disgruntlement is back, this time with a dystopian story about a world in which young men draw up a national hit list of all the older men who should be killed so that they can take power. VISIBLE EMPIRE By Hannah Pittard. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25.) Set in 1962 following a plane crash that kills most of Atlanta’s high society, Pittard’s novel combines a sense of personal loss and turmoil with greater societal change as the civil rights movement arrives at its peak. RENDEZVOUS WITH OBLIVION By Thomas Frank. (Metropolitan/Holt, $24.) From the author of “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” this bleak collection of essays shows American society in a state of disintegration.
In which we ask colleagues at The Times what they’re reading now.
“Lots of people in my orbit have been talking about Sheila Heti’s ‘Motherhood.’ I haven’t gotten there yet, but I’ve been reading the anthology she edited with Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton, WOMEN IN CLOTHES, which examines the things we put on to present ourselves to the world. The book is for anyone who thinks about getting dressed, especially those for whom it is a source of joy, and supports the idea that clothes have much more to do with money, family, intimacy, memory and self-mythologizing than the thing we call fashion. I also recently started HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL, by Alexander Chee, a collection of essays that make similar arguments about fiction. In one of them, he likens the impulse to integrate personal material with imagined worlds to the desire to perform one’s own tarot reading. Both inclinations speak to a false sense of control over the images we project. We never really see ourselves, but we can fan out the parts we find most beautiful.”
— Bonnie Wertheim, staff editor, Styles