New & Noteworthy, From Mo Rocca to George Wallace

Recent releases of note:

MOBITUARIES: Great Lives Worth Reliving, by Mo Rocca and Jonathan Greenberg. (Simon & Schuster, $29.99.) As he does in his podcast of the same name, Rocca here offers whimsical capsule biographies celebrating departed people and things, from poets to sports teams.

DISTURBANCE, by Philippe Lançon. Translated by Steven Rendall. (Europa, $28.) Lançon, a French journalist, was seriously injured when terrorists attacked the magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. This memoir traces his life in the year after, recovering from trauma through reading and reflection.

SEVEN SAMURAI SWEPT AWAY IN A RIVER, by Jung Young Moon. Translated by Yewon Jung. (Deep Vellum, paper, $14.95.) In this surreal and essayistic novel, the author (accompanied by seven imagined samurai) reflects on his time at a Texas artists’ colony and ponders what it takes to “feel like a real cowboy.”

THE BROKEN ROAD: George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation, by Peggy Wallace Kennedy with Justice H. Mark Kennedy. (Bloomsbury, $28.) The author grapples with the legacy of her father, who in the ’60s was one of America’s most visible segregationists.

BARON WENCKHEIM’S HOMECOMING, by Laszlo Krasznahorkai. Translated by Ottilie Mulzet. (New Directions, $29.95.) Krasznahorkai concludes his majestic four-novel cycle with a headlong comedy of obsession and wonderful squalor set in small-town Hungary.

What we’re reading:

For anyone looking to understand American society today, WHITESHIFT, by Eric Kaufmann, offers a provocative frame. Kaufmann, a Canadian political scientist who teaches in Britain, argues that the West’s transition away from white majorities has been the chief driver of right-wing populism. But most striking is his prescription: In an era when every minority has an identity group, he says, white people should get one too. Kaufmann cites social psychology to argue that affection for one’s own group is not correlated with hatred of another. He downplays structural racism and says that attachment to whiteness is not necessarily about power or a desire to be on top. It can also stem from an attachment to ancestry. Slamming the door on that creates a double standard for who gets to express identity, he argues, and that carries serious political risks, whose effects are already taking root across the land.

—Sabrina Tavernise, national correspondent

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