10 new books we recommend this week
FEELING AND KNOWLEDGE: 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 believes can bridge the conceptual chasm between body and mind. When feelings and images come together in the brain, he says, the result is conscious thought. “As Damasio expands magnificently on the theme of sentiment,” writes Jim Holt in his review. “The master scientist unites with the silky prose stylist to produce one exciting glimpse after another. … He was brilliantly successful in bridging the gap between body and mind.
BURNING BOY: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane, by Paul Auster. (Holt, $ 35.) Several biographies of Crane have been published over the past century, but none resemble this one. Auster, the esteemed postmodernist, took it upon himself to restore his subject to his rightful place in the canon. It is often fascinating to see a contemporary writer engage so deeply with one of his ancestors. “In the end, Auster leaves no doubt about the genius of Crane,” writes Charles McGrath in his review. “He was truly a prodigy, and his voice and his style – sharp, observant, devoid of morality or sentimentality – was something quite new in American letters.”
WHERE ARE YOU FROM, by Sasa Stanisic. Translated by Damion Searls. (Tin house, paper, $ 17.95.) This autobiographical novel traces the story of a family after the break-up of Yugoslavia. With a dry mind and a jumble of genres, the narrator looks back on his years in Germany and revisits the Bosnian village where his ancestors are buried, a world transformed by war. “Damion Searls’ translation does justice to Stanisic’s dry-witted and linguistic game, and captures the tense undercurrents that form throughout the book,” writes Irina Dumitrescu in her review. “Although it goes through trauma, ‘Where You Come From’ is also funny and moving. … Ordinary and accidental, this is the quiet beauty of immigrant life.
THE INTERMEDIATE, by Wolfgang Hilbig. Translated by Isabel Fargo Cole. (Two-line press, $ 22.95.) C., the antihero in Hilbig’s novel, is an alcoholic writer who left East Germany a few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a flurry of travel and frenzy, he is both enticed and repelled by the novelties and permissiveness of the West – a funny but anguished mind caught between competing worldviews. “It cannot be easy for a writer to recognize that his sensitivity has been irrevocably shaped by a world that has been deeply compromised and is no longer relevant,” Caleb Crain writes in his review, “even though ‘ it must be said that this is more or less the fate of any writer who has had the misfortune to survive his youth.
EDGE JUSTICE: The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the rise of Amy Coney Barrett and twelve months that transformed the Supreme Court, by Linda Serre. (Random house, $ 28.) Greenhouse, the Supreme Court’s dean of journalists, traces a year of rulings in the 2020-21 term – the court’s first since Amy Coney Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg – and gestures towards major cases ahead . In his review, Noah Feldman says that “no one can recount court decisions as accessible and intelligent as Greenhouse” and points out that, because the court dodged many important questions during the period in question, the book has an air of anticipation: ‘Justice on the Brink’ is literally a book about the highest court (and Barrett) about to do extreme things, like topple Roe. … If all or part of this drama occurs in the months and years to come, one can only be comforted to know that Linda Greenhouse will be here to write about it.