15 Books to Watch For in September


When readers meet Ursula Kuczynski Burton, a.k.a. Agent Sonya, a decorated intelligence agent and colonel in Russia’s Red Army, she’s living undercover as a housewife in a small English village. All that her neighbors know about her is that she makes great scones; they don’t realize she’s funneling atomic secrets from Britain and the U.S. to the Soviet Union. Macintyre, the best-selling author of several books about spies, offers a rich portrait of Burton, who was involved in some of the 20th century’s most famous espionage operations.

Lalami, who was born in Morocco, became an American citizen in 2000, but soon found that her relationship to the state was affected by the fact that she is Muslim, an Arab and a woman. But she soon came to think of herself and those like her as “conditional citizens,” learning how “a country to embrace you with one arm, and push you away with the other.” Her book, a blend of memoir and criticism, suggests America’s attitude toward immigration can be conflicted: The country is founded on immigrants — but only the “acceptable” kind.

When Giovanna, the protagonist of this new novel, overhears her father say that she is becoming ugly like his loathsome sister, her sense of self is rattled, and she decides she must meet her aunt and decide for herself. Fans of Ferrante’s earlier novels will recognize some familiar themes in her new book, which unfolds in Naples and focuses on a young woman’s coming of age.

[ Read our review. | Read our profile of Ferrante’s translator, Ann Goldstein. ]

James Baker has been behind the scenes at some of the most critical political junctures of the past 40 years, from Gerald Ford’s election to Ronald Reagan’s White House to the 2000 Florida ballot recount. His close friendship with George Bush is what brought him to Washington; their relationship, which could stray into rivalry, defined their lives and careers. Through his story, the authors — Peter Baker, a White House correspondent at The Times, and Susan Glasser, a writer at The New Yorker — offer a fascinating look at political power.

Details are scant about this memoir, which promises an unvarnished look at the singer’s trials and triumphs. For Carey, it’s an opportunity to tell her own story in her own voice. As she writes, “It’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a 10-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.”



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