This is a particularly star-studded week for publishing, with books by Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and other heavy-hitters out tomorrow. Here’s what our reviewers and critics had to say about some of the biggest new titles.
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‘Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America,’ by James Poniewozik (Liveright)
In this book about the overlapping history of television and politics, The Times’s chief TV critic writes what our reviewer called a “dramedy,” exploring how Donald J. Trump’s television career made his rise to the presidency almost inevitable. Poniewozik “uses his ample comedic gifts in the service of describing a slow-boil tragedy,” our reviewer, Gary Shteyngart, wrote, adding, “This book is really about the role played by all of us, the faithful citizens of TV Nation.”
[ See our list of the 17 most anticipated books coming out this month. ]
‘The Institute,’ by Stephen King (Scribner)
King’s most recent book, about brilliant children with extrasensory talents who are held captive in a Maine compound, reminded our critic Dwight Garner why he loves the prolific writer: “The music is always good. He swings low to the ground. He gets closer to the realities and attitudes of working-class life in America than any living writer I can think of,” Garner explained. “This novel is less a motorcycle than a double-decker bus, but it does handle gracefully.”
[ What scares Stephen King? ]
‘She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement,’ by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (Penguin)
Two years after their landmark reporting on sexual harassment and abuse allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein helped set off the #MeToo movement (and won a Pulitzer Prize), these two Times journalists take readers behind their reporting and expand the Weinstein story to be “less about the man and more about his surround-sound ‘complicity machine,’” our reviewer, Susan Faludi, wrote. It reads, she said, “a bit like a feminist ‘All the President’s Men.’”
‘The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale,’ by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese)
The sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale” picks up 15 years later, and Atwood said she drew on current events to imagine what happened to its characters in the dystopian world of Gilead. “Atwood’s sheer assurance as a storyteller makes for a fast, immersive narrative that’s as propulsive as it is melodramatic,” wrote our reviewer, Michiko Kakutani.
[ “I’m too old to be scared by much”: Read our Q. & A. with Margaret Atwood. ]
‘Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know,’ by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown & Company)
Gladwell applies psychological and sociological theory to high-profile case studies — such as Adolf Hitler and Jerry Sandusky — to explore why people are so bad at understanding strangers. But his approach sometimes misses the mark, argues our critic Jennifer Szalai. “Gladwell’s insistence on theory can be distorting, rather than clarifying,” she wrote. “Theory can provide a handy framework, transforming the messy welter of experience into something more legible, but it can also impose a narrative that’s awkward, warped or even damaging.”
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Concepción de León is a staff writer covering news and culture for the Books section.
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