Here are six potentially armchair-worthy new paperback releases.
“Blowing the Bloody Doors Off” by Michael Caine (Hachette, $16.99). Sir Michael is among the most charming of men — which I can say with some authority, because I interviewed him on the phone once and nearly passed out from the delightfulness of it all. This memoir/how-to book for actors, filled with anecdotes from his career, is like that phone conversation in book length; reading it, as I did last year, feels like a down-to-earth, kindhearted ramble from your nice British great-uncle, who has led a fascinating and glamorous life but never forgot his humble roots.
“Little” by Edward Carey (Penguin Random House, $17). Set in 1760s Paris, this novel tells of the adventures of a tiny orphan named Marie, who has a remarkable gift for sculpting wax — and whose destiny, against the backdrop of the French Revolution, is to become the famous Madame Tussaud. A review in The Guardian called it “a visceral, vivid and moving novel about finding and honoring one’s talent; about searching out where one belongs and who one loves, however strange and politically fraught the result might be.”
“The Infinite Blacktop” by Sara Gran (Washington Square Press, $16.99). The third in Gran’s series of mysteries featuring private detective Claire DeWitt, “The Infinite Blacktop” combines three intertwining stories: Claire’s present in Oakland and Las Vegas, in which someone seems to be trying to kill her; her early years as a young detective in Brooklyn, when her best friend disappeared; and her first Los Angeles case, involving an artist’s unexplained death. The author “has an engagingly sardonic voice and a sure grip of storytelling basics,” wrote a New York Times reviewer, praising the book as “completely original hybrid of mystery, thriller, contemporary noir, dark comedy and postmodern meditation about what it means to be a detective.”
“Killing Commendatore” by Haruki Murakami (Vintage, $17). Murakami, the acclaimed Japanese author whose works have been translated into more than 50 languages, has said that this novel is his homage to his favorite book, “The Great Gatsby.” A New York Times critic wrote that the book “is hard to describe — it is so expansive and intricate — but it touches on many of the themes familiar in Mr. Murakami’s novels: the mystery of romantic love, the weight of history, the transcendence of art, the search for elusive things just outside our grasp.”
“An Orchestra of Minorities” by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown, $16.99). Obioma’s second novel (his first, “The Fisherman,” was a finalist for the Booker Prize) recounts the life story of a modest chicken farmer in southeastern Nigeria, told from the point of view of his guardian spirit. Seattle Times reviewer David Takami called it “a rare treasure: a book that deepens the mystery of the human experience” and noted that its “acknowledgment of life’s mystery — and a willingness to embrace it — makes ‘An Orchestra of Minorities’ a transcendent read.”
“Family Trust” by Kathy Wang (HarperCollins, $16.99). Wang’s debut is a whirling family saga featuring the Huangs: a dying patriarch, his ex-wife and his two adult children, all of whom live and work in California’s Silicon Valley. An NPR critic called it “addictive” and “captivating,” describing it as “a story about families and what connects everyone to one another, about the ties that bind and the comfort that financial security can bring to people inside the hamster wheel of American consumerism.”