12:58pm

Thu February 10, 2011
New In Paperback

New In Paperback: Feb. 7-13

Union Atlantic

by Adam Haslett

Adam Haslett's first book, the collection of stories You Are Not a Stranger Here, was nominated for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His follow-up novel, Union Atlantic, is the story of a bank on the verge of failing due to a high-risk and highly irregular gamble by of one of its most arrogant and ambitious young lions. In one scene, a Fed official tells bank officials that Union Atlantic will be allowed to fail rather than being bailed out — a bluff, as it turns out. But Haslett wrote that passage, and others like it, well before most Americans had any idea our major financial institutions could be so vulnerable. Haslett sounds as surprised as anyone that his fiction dovetailed so neatly with reality. "It was an uncanny experience," he told Lynn Neary. "The week I finished the manuscript and sent it off was the week that Lehman Brothers collapsed...I felt both scooped and validated at the same time — and a little disoriented."

368 pages, $15, Anchor Books


The Three Weissmanns of Westport

by Cathleen Schine

Cathleen Schine's twist on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility substitutes divorce for primogeniture as the event that abruptly reduces a woman's material circumstances. When Joseph Weissmann tells his wife of 48 years that he wants a divorce because of "irreconcilable differences," 75-year-old Betty finds herself exiled from their sprawling, elegant Central Park West co-op to a borrowed beach shack in Westport, Conn. Her two grown daughters, also at loose ends, rally around for support. Joe's "irreconcilable difference" turns out to be an avaricious younger colleague named Felicity, "although Betty referred to her, pretending she could not remember the correct name, sometimes as Pleurisy, more often as Duplicity." A master of the modern domestic comedy, Schine lobs zingers at divorce lawyers, McMansions, infomercials, insecure authors, adult sibling rivalry, and easily bamboozled old men, among other targets.

304 pages, $14, Picador Books


The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag

by Alan Bradley

Eleven-year-old amateur chemist and detective Flavia de Luce first captured readers' hearts last year in Alan Bradley's debut mystery, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. This follow-up finds the young English girl embroiled in another mystery. When a famous puppeteer visiting Flavia's village is electrocuted during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk, the junior sleuth refuses to believe it was an accident. With the help of Dogger (her father's handyman), Gladys (her bicycle), and a well-stocked chemical laboratory, Flavia rides in circles around the skeptical but indulgent townspeople and local law enforcement — except when she's being tormented by her insufferable big sisters.

400 pages, $15, Bantam Books


The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Inside the Doomsday Machine

by Heidi Durrow

Author Heidi Durrow has often felt like she's had to straddle two worlds. She is the daughter of a black GI and a white Danish mother. Her own personal search for identity inspired her debut novel, The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, which has received breathless critical acclaim, and was awarded the Bellwether Prize for fiction that addresses issues of social justice. The story revolves around a biracial girl who moves across the country to live with her grandmother after surviving a family tragedy. As it unfolds, the reader discovers just how unfathomable this tragedy was: Her mother, brother and baby sister all died after leaping off a Chicago apartment building — a jaw-dropping turn of events that was actually based on a real story.

278 pages, $13.95, Algonquin Books


The Facebook Effect

by David Kirkpatrick

David Kirkpatrick spent a considerable amount of time with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg while writing The Facebook Effect. Zuckerberg, Kirkpatrick tells NPR's Deborah Amos, is adamant in his belief that the world is becoming more open. "He sees the world as moving very rapidly toward transparency and very rapid sharing of data between individuals in all sorts of ways, on and off Facebook," Kirkpatrick says. "And from the day he first created his system, he had this ethos of sharing that he strongly believed in." For Zuckerberg, that ethos means sharing everything. He disagrees with the notion that people have different identities. To him, the idea that someone is different at work than at home, than at a rock concert, is dishonest. Says Kirkpatrick, "He believes that he will live a better life personally, and all of us will be more honest, and ultimately it will be better for the world if we dispense with that belief."

372 pages, $16, Simon & Schuster


Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag .

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