New in Paperback: ‘Dirt’ and ‘The Night Watchman’

THE YELLOW BIRD SINGS, by Jennifer Rosner. (Flatiron, 304 pp., $16.99.) A 5-year-old music prodigy who must be quiet while hiding with her mother in a hayloft in World War II Poland, after the rest of their family has been murdered, takes comfort in the trill of a bird she grasps in her hands. Rosner’s novel, which our reviewer, Mary Beth Keane, called “exquisite” and “heartrending,” was a 2020 National Jewish Book Award finalist.

THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE, by Abi Daré. (Dutton, 400 pp., $17.) This coming-of-age story, narrated in pidgin by a “sassy, strong-willed” Nigerian girl who wants to be a teacher, opens with her father marrying her off to a polygamous, abusive taxi driver. Our reviewer, Tsitsi Dangarembga, found Daré’s “brave, fresh voice,” which articulates “a resounding anger” toward Africa’s patriarchy, “unforgettable.”

THE DEPOSITIONS: New and Selected Essays on Being and Ceasing to Be, by Thomas Lynch. (Norton, 352 pp., $17.95.) Some of the “finest, wryest and most stylish” essays by the poet and funeral director appear here, where they “light up the dark details” of what our reviewer, Scott Simon, referred to as “the one demographic to which we will all belong.”

DIRT: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking, by Bill Buford. (Vintage, 432 pp., $17.) Our reviewer, Lisa Abend, declared the New Yorker writer’s second food memoir “a delightful, highly idiosyncratic exploration” of how a dish is arrived at by discovering, as Buford puts it, “everything about it: the behavior of its ingredients, its history and a quality that some chefs think of as its soul.”

28 SUMMERS, by Elin Hilderbrand. (Back Bay, 448 pp., $17.99.) Back on Nantucket, “where Hilderbrand fans feel like locals even if they’ve never had the pleasure of visiting,” a dying schoolteacher asks her son to notify a man with whom, it turns out, she’s had a secret rendezvous every Labor Day weekend for almost three decades. Our reviewer, Elisabeth Egan, crowned this “sweeping love story” the novelist’s “best ever.”

THE NIGHT WATCHMAN, by Louise Erdrich. (Harper Perennial, 464 pp., $18.) “High drama, low comedy, ghost stories, mystical visions, family and tribal lore … mix with political fervor,” according to our reviewer, Luis Alberto Urrea, in this “magisterial epic” inspired by the letters Erdrich’s grandfather sent to politicians in Washington in the 1950s to save his Native American tribe from termination.

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