Six new paperbacks to check out this week.
AMITY AND PROSPERITY: One Family and the Fracturing of America, by Eliza Griswold. (Picador, $18.) This exhaustively researched account traces the devastating effects of fracking on a Pennsylvania town: illnesses, toxic waste, a collapsing middle class. The book, which won a Pulitzer Prize this year, captures the layers of government malfeasance and neglect that allowed a corporation’s interests to win out in the region.
THE GREAT BELIEVERS, by Rebecca Makkai. (Penguin, $16.) Makkai’s powerful novel chronicles the AIDS epidemic, from its outbreak up to the present day, through the lives of a group of friends in Chicago, most of them gay men. Along the way, the story of a woman searching for her daughter in Paris in 2015 is woven in. The book was one of the Book Review’s 10 best of 2018.
FRENEMIES: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else), by Ken Auletta. (Penguin, $17.) The media reporter and best-selling author describes the new landscape for advertising and marketing, both competing with and dependent on Silicon Valley. Though America’s fascination with advertising has dimmed, Auletta does point to successful innovations, even as the industry stares down existential threats.
OHIO, by Stephen Markley. (Simon & Schuster, $16.99.) In this timely debut novel, which touches on everything from the Iraq war to opiate addiction to the alt-right, a group of former classmates return to their Rust Belt hometown, where an astonishing number of secrets and betrayals are revealed. As our reviewer, Dan Chaon, put it, “The real core of this earnestly ambitious debut lies not in its sweeping statements but in its smaller moments, in its respectful and bighearted renderings of damaged and thwarted lives.”
THE ELECTRIC WOMAN: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts, by Tessa Fontaine. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.) After her mother suffered a terrible stroke, leaving her severely incapacitated, the author ran off to join the circus, where she ate fire, handled a boa constrictor and even swallowed swords. Fontaine braids these experiences, of losing her mother and performing in a sideshow, into an elegant narrative.
THE MARS ROOM, by Rachel Kushner. (Scribner, $17.) Set in a women’s correctional facility, this propulsive novel reveals an imagination that is Dickensian in its range and its reformist zeal. As our reviewer, Charles McGrath, wrote, “Kushner’s novel is so powerful and realistic you come away convinced that … even for those who get out, prison is still a life sentence.”
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