The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church, by Rachel L. Swarns
In 1838, a group of powerful Jesuit priests sold 272 enslaved people to help secure the financial future of a pre-eminent Catholic school: the university now known as Georgetown. Swarns, a journalism professor and a contributing writer for The Times, builds on earlier reporting to show how the history of the Catholic Church in the United States is inextricably linked to slavery, and traces one family for nearly 200 years, starting with Ann Joice, a Black woman who arrived in Maryland in the 1600s as an indentured servant.
All the Sinners Bleed, by S.A. Cosby
Cosby follows his earlier thrillers “Razorblade Tears” and “Blacktop Wasteland” with a rural, hair-raising crime story. Titus Crown, a former F.B.I. agent, has returned to his Virginia hometown and become the rare Black sheriff in the area. A beloved white high school teacher is killed, bringing to light a much darker crime: The teacher was part of a group that tortured and killed Black children, and one of his conspirators is still at large. As Crown investigates, each twist is a reminder that, in Cosby’s telling, “no place was more confused by its past or more terrified of the future than the South.”
The Devil’s Playground, by Craig Russell
A Hollywood thriller centers on a legendary horror film from the 1920s that is rumored to have cursed everyone involved: Its star died before filming ended, the crew was hurt in a grave accident and nearly all copies of it were subsequently destroyed. But 40 years later, a film historian learns that a last recording might still exist, and chases down more of its unsettling back story.
Holding Pattern, by Jenny Xie
Written by a former executive editor at Dwell magazine (who is unrelated to the acclaimed poet Jenny Xie), this debut novel follows Kathleen, who abruptly leaves her graduate program and moves back to California to live with her Chinese mother. A job at a company promoting touch therapy helps Kathleen rethink her ideas about intimacy more generally — and spurs her to build a new relationship with her mother.
I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home, by Lorrie Moore
It’s been over a decade since Moore published a novel, but her new book shows she hasn’t lost her absurdist touch or her ability to balance all manner of disparate elements: in this case, a so-called therapy clown, a spectral road trip and purloined 19th-century letters, among other things. The novel centers on a suspended high school history teacher visiting his dying brother, and explores various kinds of love and duty.
The Mythmakers, by Keziah Weir
In this debut novel, a young journalist named Sal stumbles upon a depiction of herself in a story by a much older male writer — and wades into thorny questions of appropriation, authorship and the role of the muse. The writer, Martin Keller, has died by the time Sal encounters the story, and soon she’s weaseling her way into the lives of Keller’s widow and daughter to better understand the role she played.
Open Throat, by Henry Hoke
“I’ve never eaten a person but today I might.” This sets the tone for Hoke’s new novel, narrated by a queer mountain lion who lives near the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, guarding a homeless encampment. Readers learn about the cat’s life — a romance that bloomed while preying on a deer, a violent and traumatic paternal relationship — in fragmented, inventive prose.
Pageboy: A Memoir, by Elliot Page
Page rose to prominence for roles in “Juno” and “Inception,” and came out as trans in 2020. His new memoir details the long path to transitioning genders (even from the time he was a child he asked his mother if he could be a boy, he writes). In his story, he offers moving descriptions of what it’s like to experience gender dysphoria, and details the happiness and self-acceptance he now feels.
To Name the Bigger Lie: A Memoir in Two Stories, by Sarah Viren
Viren published an article in The Times Magazine that detailed a rival’s false sexual harassment case against her wife, a harrowing attempt to derail her academic career. That episode figures in Viren’s new autobiography, but it’s just one component: At the heart of this book are her attempts to reconcile her current identity with all of her previous selves, and to investigate whether the full truth is ever within reach.