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8 New Books We Recommend This Week

THE TRIALS OF NINA McCALL: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plant to Imprison “Promiscuous” Women, by Scott W. Stern. (Beacon, $28.95.) Stern’s meticulous history — the first book-length account of an American government “social hygiene” campaign under which thousands of women were forcibly examined, quarantined and incarcerated — is a consistently surprising page-turner. Cynthia Gorney, reviewing it, says that the book is “a brilliant study of the way social anxieties have historically congealed in state control over women’s bodies and behavior — at times with the complicity of medical authorities.”

THE BOUNCER, by David Gordon. (Mysterious Press, $26.) A “brilliantly goofy caper novel in the grand tradition of Donald E. Westlake,” as Marilyn Stasio writes in her crime column, Gordon’s mystery is set among the international crime families of New York, who set aside their rivalries to unite against the threat of a terrorist plot.

SPINNING SILVER, by Naomi Novik. (Del Rey, $28.) In her stunning new novel, rich in both ideas and people, Novik gives classic fairy tales — particularly “Rumpelstiltskin” — a fresh, wholly original twist, with the vastness of Tolkien and the empathy and joy in daily life of Le Guin. Our reviewer, Choire Sicha, writes that “Spinning Silver” is “like falling asleep in the passenger seat of a car and waking with a jolt of fear, a cold window sticky against your cheek, a strange night country outside. Where are you?”

FLORIDA, by Lauren Groff. (Riverhead, $27.) In the 11 dramatic tales that make up her second story collection, Groff’s version of Florida comes with menace, but no less wonder. The author is a careful, sharp recorder of nature’s ways; this is “restorative fiction for these urgent times,” Christine Schutt writes in her review, with gestures that “lean toward love and the promise of good people, in not just this state but the world.”

THE PRISON LETTERS OF NELSON MANDELA, edited by Sahm Venter. (Liveright, $35.) This volume of 255 letters, both heartbreaking and inspiring, by the former South African president and civil rights activist, shows his evolution over the course of his long prison sentence into a leader of rare moral courage. “With words as his only ammunition, Mandela fought his case patiently, on lined paper, his eloquence inseparable from his rectitude,” Charlayne Hunter-Gault writes in her review.


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