New in Paperback: ‘A Knock at Midnight,’ ‘The Vapors’ and More

By Tina Jordan

A KNOCK AT MIDNIGHT: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom, by Brittany K. Barnett. (Crown, 352 pp., $17.) This memoir by Barnett — a young Black lawyer and the cofounder of Buried Alive, an organization that appeals life sentences for nonviolent drug offenders — “unfurls like a coming-of-age story,” our reviewer, Sierra Crane Murdoch, wrote. “In the beginning, Barnett seems innocent, idealistic and mostly content, but as she encounters each case … her eyes open wider.”

LIFE EVENTS, by Karolina Waclawiak. (Picador, 288 pp. $17.) If contemplating your own demise is something you assiduously avoid, then consider this novel about a young woman training as a death doula. According to our critic, Lara Vapnyar, it “offers you a hand, gently helping you pull your head out of the sand to accept the inevitable.”

THE VAPORS: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice, by David Hill. (Picador, 416 pp., $19.) During the boozy, sin-soaked heyday of this nightclub-studded Arkansas resort, “the town’s chief municipal expression was a wink,” Jonathan Miles wrote in his review. “The mayors winked. The cops winked. The preachers winked, or at least averted their gaze.”

THE PATIENT, by Jasper DeWitt. (Mariner, 224 pp., $15.99.) As our thrillers columnist, Sarah Lyall, put it last year, “Imagine a mental patient so malevolent, so diabolical, that anyone who comes into contact with him — psychiatrists, nurses, orderlies, other patients — is driven insane. That is the delightfully bonkers premise” of this novel, which is set, naturally, at a remote and forbidding hospital.

BIG FRIENDSHIP: How We Keep Each Other Close, by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. (Simon & Schuster, 272 pp., $17.) Nurturing friendships is often low on people’s priority lists, coming far after children, spouses, careers. Sow and Friedman, pals for a decade, say that’s a mistake. They “describe intense friendships as one of life’s foundations, neglected at our peril and, likely, our regret,” our reviewer, Trish Hall, wrote.

MILK FED, by Melissa Broder. (Scribner, 320 pp., $17.) Sex, faith and frozen yogurt toppings all figure in this deliciously droll novel about a young comic with an eating disorder who falls for an Orthodox Jewish woman behind the counter at the local Yo!Gurt shop. Our reviewer, Lucinda Rosenfeld, said that it “bravely questions the particularly female lionization of thin and loathing of fat.”

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