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Eastern Asia

A deeply moving cri de coeur about the power of love to fight despair. "To Paradise" by Hanya Yanagihara; Doubleday (720 pages, $32.50) ——— "To Paradise," Hanya Yanagihara's ambitious follow-up to "A Little Life," a National Book Award finalist, is an epic in size and scope. The novel is divided into three books, each featuring characters with the same names living in the same house in New ...

Jean Chen Ho's virtuosic debut collection of short stories follows relationships over three decades. "Fiona and Jane" by Jean Chen Ho; Viking (288 pages, $26) ——— Fiona and Jane, the dual protagonists of Jean Chen Ho's virtuosic debut collection of short stories, have been best friends since second grade. In alternating perspectives, the book follows the arc of their relationship over three ...

Set in England and China, a smart, expansive novel considers the toll of extremist beliefs. "The Sisters Mao" by Gavin McCrea; Scribe (560 pages, $28) ——— "The Sisters Mao," Gavin McCrea's second novel, is a stirring, perceptive exploration of radical politics. Two of the Irish writer's protagonists, sisters Iris and Eva Thurlow, are among a small number of disaffected Londoners who live ...

Compelling stories of immigrants — many of whom settled in Minnesota — are told in powerful words and illustrations in this graphic novel. "Our Stories Carried Us Here," edited by Julie Vang, Tea Rozman and Tom Kaczynski; Green Card Voices (201 pages, $24.99) ——— The American dream is alive, with a twist, in "Our Stories Carried Us Here," which offers 10 stories of young people who cross ...

Five lush books on nature, animals and "Little Women." Sometimes you just want to give someone a big, lavish, glorious book. Here are five recommendations: "Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright!" selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup. (Nosy Crow, $40.) Reading a short passage every morning is an excellent way to start the day. Some people read from religious texts; I've been ...

"Our Country Friends" by Gary Shteyngart; Random House (336 pages, $28) ——— In the earliest, disorienting days of the coronavirus pandemic, as New York City became the site of its first American conflagration, many people who could fled the city. Gary Shteyngart’s engaging new novel, "Our Country Friends," is a sometimes comic, sometimes poignant story of one such group. He borrows a bit from ...

'A Snake Falls to Earth' by Darcie Little Badger. (Levine Querido, $18.99.) In this Indigenous-influenced fantasy, 16-year-old Nina lives in south Texas, where a hostile neighbor and an impending hurricane put her family's hold on their land at risk. Oli, a cottonmouth person in the Reflecting World, is worried about his toad friend, who is losing life as his species dies out on Earth. The two ...

"Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19" by Alina Chan and Matt Ridley; Harper (416 pages, $30) ——— Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, has become one of the leading exponents of the hypothesis that the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic leaked from a Chinese laboratory. Matt Ridley, a much-published science writer and member of the British House ...

"Blue-skinned Gods" by SJ Sindu; Soho Press (336 pages, $26) ——— SJ Sindu has imagined a fascinating premise for her novel exploring identity, family, community and the tensions that arise among them: A boy born with a rare medical condition that causes his skin to turn blue is raised to believe he is an incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. His parents set up an ashram outside a village in ...

A remarkable and important memoir of one of China's most prominent social activists. "1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir" by Ai Weiwei, translated from the Chinese by Allan H. Barr; Crown (373 pages, $32) ——— This memoir is a remarkable book — and an important one.In vivid and direct prose (with excellent assistance from translator Allan H. Barr) and frequent line drawings, Ai Weiwei, ...

A new paperback, crisp as a fall apple — what could be nicer? Here are six fresh ones, ranging from suspense fiction to sweeping biography. Happy reading! "Find You First" by Linwood Barclay (HarperCollins, $9.99). Barclay, a bestselling author of well-crafted novels of suspense ("Elevator Pitch"), kept me up late reading this one not long ago. In it, the heirs of a dying tech multimillionaire ...

A lauded poet traverses a path into the past in search of who she is and who she was. "Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence and Grief" by Victoria Chang; Milkweed Editions (168 pages, $25) ——— Many immigrant stories begin with trauma. The decision to leave behind one's country of birth is rarely a whim and more often a decision reached in the face of repression, imminent threat, or — in ...

"State of Terror" by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny; Simon & Schuster/St. Martin’s Press (494 pages, $30) ——— When politicians write novels, I usually try to avoid reviewing them. With a handful of exceptions, my critical response to such books has been: “Don’t quit your day job.” "State of Terror" is a big, turbocharged, breathtaking exception: It’s one of the best political thrillers ...

GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, Calif. - I recently violated federal law high in the Marin Headlands overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. How? By riding an electric bike for a mile along the Julian Trail, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The trail is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. It was an accident. That old fire road is part of a vast regulatory ...

Nearly 80 years after the first casino blinked to life along the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard now known as the Strip, the re-illumination of Las Vegas is nearly complete. Call it the end of the neon era or the beginning of the LED epoch. Either way, in the next two years, numerous hotels, casinos and other attractions, eager to boost tourism after several relatively flat years, are unveiling ...

A 30-foot-long, red and yellow cloth dragon with daggerlike white teeth blocked our way as my wife, Shirin, and I strolled down Singapore's famed Orchard Road, a tree-lined boulevard known for its upscale stores and hotels. Drums beat rhythmically as a dozen men maneuvered the undulating dragon along the broad sidewalk. This symbol of strength, power and good luck in Chinese culture was part ...

CHICAGO - It will take all six of the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movies to fill the 17 hours and 20 minutes on Qantas' new flight from Chicago to Brisbane, Australia. The 8,901-mile flight, which begins operating next spring, will become the longest nonstop flight operating out of O'Hare International Airport, nudging aside an Air Zealand flight to Auckland that covers 8,181 miles. ...

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Widely recognized as the first Japanese American novel, John Okada's "No-No Boy," about a Japanese American man struggling to find his place in the U.S. and in his community in the years after WWII, is a historic work of literature. But the book wasn't always celebrated. A new edition of "No-No Boy," published by Penguin Classics in May in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage ...

"Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells" by Pico Iyer; Knopf (231 pages, $25.95) ___ Thirty years ago, travel writer Pico Iyer went to Japan seeking a life of solitude, a copy of Thoreau in his suitcase. "I went to Japan to learn how to live with less hurry and fear of time," he writes, "Walden"-style. To live simply and alone. What he found was an endlessly fascinating culture perpetually ...

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