9 New Books We Recommend This Week

Three of our recommended books this week show characters grappling with tumultuous change well after they might have assumed their life paths were settled: Lucy Sante’s “I Heard Her Call My Name” is a memoir of her gender transition as she approached her 70s, while Roxana Robinson’s novel “Leaving” is an operatic story of late-life romance and Anna Quindlen’s novel “After Annie” shows a widower and two other characters coping with profound and sudden grief.

We also recommend a powerful Holocaust memoir and the history of a segregated mental hospital in Jim Crow Maryland; in fiction, our picks include a surreal adventure about a struggling writer, an audacious Australian satire about the clash between modernity and Indigenous culture, an uncanny story collection and a charming do-it-yourself mystery that lets the reader sift through clues alongside the heroine. Happy reading.— Gregory Cowles

A Memoir of Transition
Lucy Sante

Sante, who for decades has been a leading literary and cultural critic, here traces her late-in-life gender transition, reflecting on a career of seeking truths through writing while hiding an important truth about herself. The book vividly presents New York in the 1970s and documents a transformation both internal and external.


“Her memoir is moving for many reasons, but primarily for its observations about aging and vanity, as seen through the separated colors of a prismatic lens. … Her sharpness and sanity, moodiness and skepticism are the appeal.”

From Dwight Garner’s review

Penguin Press | $27

Anna Quindlen

In this novel of small moments and momentous grief, Quindlen shows how a family pieces itself together after shattering loss. Perspective shifts among three characters — the husband, the eldest daughter and the best friend of a woman, Annie, who dies suddenly, leaving loved ones reeling.

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