New York Times Review
WASHINGTON BLACK, by Esi Edugyan. (Knopf, $26.95.) This eloquent novel, Edugyan's third, is a daring work of empathy and imagination, featuring a Barbados slave boy in the 1830s who flees barbaric cruelty in a hot-air balloon and embarks on a life of adventure that is wondrous, melancholy and strange. CAN YOU TOLERATE THIS? By Ashleigh Young. (Riverhead, $26.) The New Zealand poet and essayist writes many sly ars poeticas in her collection - a lovely, profound debut that spins metaphors of its own creation and the segmented identity of the essayist, that self-regarding self. BIG GAME: The NFL in Dangerous Times, by Mark Leibovich. (Penguin Press, $28.) A gossipy, insightful and wickedly entertaining journey through professional football's sausage factory. Reading this sparkling narrative, one gets the sense that the league will survive on the magnetism of the sport it so clumsily represents. THE REAL LOLITA: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World, by Sarah Weinman. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $27.99.) Writing "Lolita," Nabokov drew on the real-life story of a girl held captive for two years by a pedophile. Weinman tracks down her history to complicate our view of the novel widely seen as Nabokov's masterpiece. THE SCHOOLHOUSE GATE: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind, by Justin Driver. (Pantheon, $35.) This meticulous history examines rulings on free speech, integration and corporal punishment to argue that schools are our most significant arenas of constitutional conflict. TICKER: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart, by Mimi Swartz. (Crown, $27.) The long, arduous effort to invent and then perfect a machine that could stand in for the human heart offers Swartz a scandalous story filled with feuding doctors willing to stretch ethical boundaries to make great achievements. UNDERBUG: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology, by Lisa Margonelli. (Scientific American/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Margonelli, who believes termites are underappreciated, makes her case via the researchers who study them - especially their ability to build the insect equivalent of a skyscraper. HARBOR ME, by Jacqueline Woodson. (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin, $17.99; ages 10 and up.) In this compassionate novel, a perceptive teacher requires six struggling middle school students to spend one class period a week together, just talking. LOUISIANA'S WAY HOME, by Kate DiCamillo. (Candlewick, $16.99; ages 10 and up.) Louisiana Elefante, first introduced as a minor character in DiCamillo's "Raymie Nightingale," hits the road with her grandmother, nurturing practical optimism despite hardship. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books
Publishers Weekly Review
In this skewering and witty cultural study, Leibovich (This Town) takes an insider look at the National Football League. Leibovich hangs out with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at his New York City skyscraper residence; schmoozes with team owners at the league's annual meeting in Boca Raton, Fla.; attempts to interview a very distracted NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell on the sidelines of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.; and tailgates with shirtless fans at Green Bay's frozen Lambeau Field. A lifetime Patriots fan, the author weaves his personal experiences chasing Brady for interviews into a charged narrative that calls out the NFL for its willful obliviousness to the physical and mental toll pro football takes on its players, as well as the league's chest-thumping defense of its logo, "the Shield." He also refers to the NFL as "the country's most polarizing sports brand" and explores the impact President Trump is having on the league by taking players to task for kneeling during the national anthem. Leibovich questions throughout whether the NFL is doomed, not only due to the sport's violence but also because the people who run it seem place the league over the players. Enhancing his casual reporting with cynical commentary, Leibovich provides entertaining reading. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.