9 New Books We Suggest This Week

METAZOA: animal life and the birth of the spirit, by Peter Godfrey-Smith. (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, $ 28.) Godfrey-Smith draws on his extensive diving knowledge and field experience to shed light on how the animal mind works – and the thoughts and experiences that shape it. For example, it assumes the very real possibility that an octopus is a being with multiple selves. “The book is full of exciting anecdotes and research, interspersed with charming and informative illustrations from various periods. So we can imagine for a moment what a sample of residents looked like during this time, ”writes Aimee Nezhukumatathil in her review. “The whole book is quite a winning combination that doesn’t make readers feel like they are being lectured. Rather, it is the feeling of traveling through the cognitive experiences of animals with a wise, always patient friend. “

THE NINE LIVES OF PAKISTAN: Shipments from a precarious state, by Declan Walsh. (Norton, $ 30.) Walsh’s detailed book mixes profiles of some of Pakistan’s most controversial figures with personal history as he solves the mystery of why he was unceremoniously kicked out of the country as the Times correspondent in 2013. “Walsh assumes that his lines are bugged, avoids intellectual downtimes and continues to push into the dark corners that those in power do not want,” writes Amna Nawaz in her review. “This on-site investment can be seen in his book. Despite the struggles, insecurity and difficulty associated with reporting in Pakistan, its familiarity and preference for the people and places it covers is clear. “

The Blessing and the Curse: The Jewish People and Their Books in the 20th Century, by Adam Kirsch. (Norton, $ 30.) Kirsch, a poet and critic, picks up on the contradicting quality of the Jewish experience for this review of “some of the greatest and most compelling Jewish books of the 20th century,” the world’s literary greats by Franz cover Kafka to Tony Kushner. “Kirsch’s essays are expertly written, each skillfully including historical context, healthy parts of the summary and presentation, and the slightest pinch of interpretation and evaluation,” wrote Josh Lambert in his review. “It says just enough to show the value of a book without too many spoilers, and it doesn’t go on or work out its points for too long. The essays could serve as a model for anyone wishing to introduce a new paperback edition of a worn-out text. “

THAT WAS NOW, THAT IS THEN: Poems, by Vijay Seshadri. (Graywolf, $ 24.) In his first collection since winning the Pulitzer in 2014 (for “3 Sections”), Seshadri applies his sinuous, chatty voice to an unusually wide range of forms – from rhyming quatrains to bold Prose blocks – in poems these are usually talkative, testing and self-deprecating. “Seshadri’s poems are irritably clever, often funny, conceptually complicated and so full of irony that it is difficult to avoid playing on words with magnets or multivitamins,” writes David Orr in his review. “He is a poet who fascinates not through silence, but through zig and zag, and he desperately wants to take the reader with him when he jumps from idea to idea.”

WASTE: A Woman’s Struggle Against America’s Dirty Secret, by Catherine Coleman Flowers. (The New Press, $ 25.99.) Flowers, an environmental activist and MacArthur Fellow, sheds light on the health consequences of a complicated, uncomfortable problem – the lack of adequate garbage disposal in rural America – despite describing her own advancement as a lawyer . “Flowers bring an invigorating sense of meaning to the page,” writes our reviewer Anna Clark. “’Waste’ is written with warmth, grace and clarity. His straightforward belief in the possibility of building a better world from scratch is contagious. … Flowers tells the extraordinary story of her own life in all its detours, leaps of faith, lucky sayings, strange turns, hard work and her constantly growing social awareness. “

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