[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens. Reviewed by David L. Ulin in the L.A. Times.
Mortality must be the most-reviewed book in the country this week, but the L.A. Times was the only paper I read that put their ace reviewer on it. Ulin says Hitchens’s final book “is not so much reflection as reportage, a set of dispatches from ‘Tumortown.’” Hitchens’s unemotional style “gives Mortality a certain clear-headed aversion to the banal, it also keeps us at a distance, even when Hitchens is speaking from the heart.” If you were a Hitchens fan, you probably shouldn’t miss this one. Find this book at Goodreads.
The Garden of Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng. Reviewed by Dominique Browning in the New York Times.
Eng’s debut novel was recently longlisted for the Booker prize. It concerns a Malaysian woman who’s been diagnosed with an Alzheimer’s-like disease. Before she loses her memory, she wants to reconcile what happened to her decades earlier, when she and her sister were imprisoned in a Japanese camp in World War II, and her sister died there. Find this book at Goodreads.
Paris: A Love Story, by Kati Marton. Reviewed by Ann Gerhart in the Washington Post.
Kati Marton “fell in love with and married two famous men, the ABC anchor Peter Jennings and the diplomatic giant Richard Holbrooke, and cheated on them both.” She’s had a “turbulent” life in her own right, from growing up in Budapest, “where her journalist parents were imprisoned by the secret police,” to working as a journalist in Ireland, where “‘I interviewed masked gunmen I would later meet without their masks, in suits and ties, at the Council of Foreign Relations.’” Gerhart calls the book “little more than an annotated timeline,” but fascinating lives generally make for good memoirs. Find this book at Goodreads.
In brief: Junot Díaz talks about what he’s reading. … An “oddball-powered history” about World War II spies. … The Guardian joins Kakutani in panning NW. … A whole bunch of YA novels have been optioned for movies recently, including Wildwood by The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy. … David L. Ulin talks to Lois Lowry about Son, the new sequel to her modern classic The Giver. … This review of a book about the hacker collective Anonymous is too gimmicky for my taste, but the book sounds awesome.