11 New Books We Recommend This Week

SILENT INVASION: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, Covid-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It’s Too Late, by Deborah Birx. (Harper/HarperCollins, $29.99.) Birx’s insider account of the Trump administration’s handling of Covid-19 is a scientist’s story of anger and frustration in a battle against politics and ignorance. “Although her time within the Trump White House was in most ways an agonizing debacle, Birx makes a good case that her efforts … yielded some significant mitigation of the national catastrophe.,” David Quammen writes in his review. “She was given an impossible task, and she did not fail completely. It sounds like a noble epitaph in a sorry time.”

TASHA: A Son’s Memoir, by Brian Morton. (Avid Reader, $28.) Irritable, stubborn and constantly hungry for attention, the author’s mother, Tasha, gives good copy, as they say. In his sixth book (and first memoir), Morton writes about her final years — and the challenges and joys of being responsible for a parent who defies all stereotypes of docile senior citizenhood. “If the dead are never safely dead, and the past never past, the beauty of ‘Tasha’ is in Morton’s very struggle to get Tasha right on the page, once and for all,” Dani Shapiro writes, reviewing the book. “It is a gift of mature adulthood — and perhaps the work of writing memoir — to see our parents as people who exist outside of their centrality in our lives.”

STEPPING BACK FROM THE LEDGE: A Daughter’s Search for Truth and Renewal, by Laura Trujillo. (Random House, $27.) Trujillo’s seismically moving memoir explores her mother’s decision to end her own life. For many who have been touched by suicide, her hard-earned story will be a helpful companion. “In a memoir like this, the author must be both scientist and lab rat, painstakingly dissecting her mother’s behavior and her own under duress,” Michael Greenberg writes in his review. “When Trujillo struggles to convey the most trying experiences, her inarticulateness becomes a form of eloquence. Among her realizations is that suicide is a mysterious and unknowable aspect of being human.”

PARADAIS, by Fernanda Melchor. Translated by Sophie Hughes. (New Directions, paper, $19.95.) Melchor’s luminous, unsparing novel is set in the wryly named Paradise, a gated community in Mexico where two teenage outcasts from opposite ends of the economic spectrum plot heinous acts that reflect society’s brutal misogyny. “Melchor is an incredibly gifted writer,” Justin Torres writes in his review. “Once you’re acclimated to both the style and the sheer rancor of the prose (i.e., once you give up hope for a moment of grace), you’ll notice other things: flourishes, the attention to the natural world, poetic turns of phrase, shrewd sketches of the indignities of menial labor.”

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