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11 New Books We Recommend This Week

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FULFILLMENT: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, by Alec MacGillis. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) MacGillis’s urgent book highlights the grip Amazon has on the United States, from the ground level — in the inhumane working conditions of the warehouse and in rural towns upended by deindustrialization — to the gilded halls of Washington, D.C., where the company’s lobbyists flock. “In MacGillis’s account, Amazon’s power centers on its willingness to influence politics on any scale, whether local or national,” our reviewer, Xiaowei Wang, writes. “Unlike the immediate, visible crises of natural disaster and war, the uncertainty and harsh economic conditions created by this one company are a simmering, slow death.”

THE BARBIZON: The Hotel That Set Women Free, by Paulina Bren. (Simon & Schuster, $27.) Bren’s savvy account of the Manhattan residence for single women famous for its talented young clientele (and memorialized in Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel “The Bell Jar”) doubles as a cultural history of female ambition in the 20th century. “Bren draws on an impressive amount of archival research, and pays tender attention to each of the women she profiles,” Moira Donegan writes in her review. “Was the Barbizon’s single-sex rule a liberating protection, or a confining trap? Bren sees the hotel only as what it was for its residents: the best option available to them at the time.”

THE FOURTH CHILD, by Jessica Winter. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99.) This intense, heartfelt novel features a Buffalo, N.Y., family that adopts a daughter from Romania. The decision has far-reaching aftershocks for the older siblings, especially a daughter who has struggled to find her footing in her mother’s faith-centered world. “Winter’s greatest accomplishment,” according to our reviewer, Mary Beth Keane, “is that she takes on enormous, highly charged topics — faith, the right to choose, female identity — and presents a story without one shred of moralizing.”

BURNT SUGAR, by Avni Doshi. (Overlook, $26.) This remarkable debut novel, about a young Indian woman saddled with the care of her ailing and abusive mother, inflicts a visceral punch. In spare and exacting prose, Doshi documents the petty cruelties and helpless dependency of a primal relationship in disarray. “Doshi’s sentences are sharply drawn and devastatingly precise,” Souvankham Thammavongsa writes in her review. “There is never a wasted word, no debris, no flourish to hide behind. A voice this unadorned, and blunt, is so hauntingly stubborn and original, you want to hear from it again and again.”

BROOD, by Jackie Polzin. (Doubleday, $24.) A debut novel about chickens? Yes, indeed. And it’s full of nuance and humor, not to mention the very human travails of their grieving owner. The author has a gift for detail and an eye for the way little creatures can absorb and sometimes erase our worries. “Polzin writes beautifully about chickens; she is lovingly cleareyed about their ‘idiocy’ and their dearness,” Elizabeth McCracken writes in her review. “She writes beautifully about everything: the sound of melting snow at the end of a Minnesota winter; a forgotten container of orange sherbet frosted over; private emotion. … It’s a pleasure to see what Polzin sees.”


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