Intellectual pursuits, criminal pursuits, fleshly pursuits: The thrill of the chase runs through this week’s recommended titles, from John Walsh’s “Circus of Dreams,” about literary London in the 1980s, to Frank Close’s “Elusive,” about the physicist Peter Higgs and his search for a subatomic particle, to Lina Wolff’s novel “Carnality,” in which the intellectual and the criminal and the fleshly get together for a raucous free-for-all.
Other pursuits: The longtime New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson tries to learn math late in life, Niven Govinden’s new novel follows a film director’s quest for his next project and Nicole Pasulka’s “How You Get Famous” explores the search for stardom and creative freedom in Brooklyn’s driving drag scene.
We also recommend a couple of books about sex crimes and their consequences — Ken Auletta’s account of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall, and John Wood Sweet’s history of a rape trial in 1793 New York — along with a story collection set on the Penobscot Indian Nation reservation, a history of textiles and their uses, and Eleanor Brown’s novel about an unconventional extended family. Finally, two books about geopolitics and international relations: Louisa Lim’s “Indelible City” looks at Hong Kong’s efforts to defy colonialism, and Meenakshi Ahamed’s “A Matter of Trust” traces the long, complicated dynamic between India and the United States. Happy reading.
Senior Editor, Books
In this mix of memoir and literary history, Walsh, the former editor of The Sunday Times of London, writes about the bookish life in that city when Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson and their generation were in the limelight brightlight. In Walsh’s memory, book-launch parties, which got an upgrade in the ’80s, were especially resplendent; he recalls them as “golden and Gatsby-like extravaganzas.”
Constable | $36.99
Translated by Frank Perry
Bennedith, a 45-year-old Swedish writer, travels to Madrid on an artist’s grant. There she meets a stranger named Mercuro who begs her to hide him “for a few days.” Bennedith invites him to stay at her apartment. Each of them is yearning for a transformative event to get life’s juices flowing again.
Other Press | Paper, $17.99
Auletta’s latest book is a cradle-to-jail biography of Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul convicted of third-degree rape and another sex felony in New York and awaiting trial on further charges in California. Auletta frames the story in the lengthy shadow of “Citizen Kane.” The author is, of course, Jerry Thompson, the reporter looking for his antihero’s Rosebud: the mysterious missing object or influence that will explain his personality.
Penguin Press | $30
Wilkinson begins this memoir by admitting that he passed high school math only because he cheated. “A Divine Language” recounts the year he spent, not long ago, when he was well into his 60s, trying to learn the algebra, geometry and calculus that had confounded him decades before. As he was getting older, he wanted to see if his teenage confusion reflected a lack of mathematical skill or a dearth of discipline.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux | $29
THE SEWING GIRL’S TALE:
A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America
John Wood Sweet
This history tells the fascinating, and unusual, story of a rape trial in 1793 New York, when the young victim bravely faced her much wealthier attacker in court with repercussions that can still be felt today.
Holt | $29.99
Govinden’s elegant novel about the creative process follows a film auteur who is in Italy for the premiere of his latest work but is already looking ahead to what’s next. A chance encounter with a writer — and later, her out-of-print novel — leads to some ideas, though the gap between vision and real life may prove too difficult to bridge.
Deep Vellum | $25.95
In this brash, irreverent story collection, Talty illuminates life and death on the Penobscot Indian Nation reservation by following David, a Penobscot boy, through adventures and troubles that evoke loss, intergenerational trauma and more.
Tin House | Paper, $16.95
This book about the Scottish physicist and the boson named after him, sometimes called the “God particle,” is a clear and vivid account of a major scientific breakthrough, taking the reader through much of the history of particle physics while introducing key players and insights along the way.
Basic | $30
A former journalist dismantles the received wisdom about Hong Kong’s history and replaces it with an engaging, exhaustively researched account of its long struggle for sovereignty from China and — at least as important — from Britain.
Ahmed’s exquisitely written, thoroughly researched and insightful account traces the difficult, complicated relationship of two huge democracies that need each other as allies but cannot quite be friends.
HarperCollins | Paper, $18.99
In this diverting and thought-provoking novel, three families who are connected through adoption on an ambitious vacation that goes awry after an announcement from their kids’ birth mother. Brown raises serious questions about how families are formed, and how they endure.
In her wide-ranging and personal history-memoir-travelogue, Finlay explores the often complex and always fascinating histories of textiles like linen, cotton, wool, silk and synthetics.
Pegasus | $32
This history of Brooklyn’s drag scene follows a handful of influential queens who shaped the field, drawing on some 100 interviews and many years of reporting to explore larger issues.
Simon & Schuster | $27.99