The four voices that shape Julia Glass’s novel represent various pockets of modern American culture: Percy, a near octogenarian former librarian, and the widower of the title; Robert, his idealistic twenty-yearold grandson; Ira, a gay early-childhood teacher; and Celestino, an immigrant living and working illegally in the United States. Over the course of a year, their intersecting paths will have repercussions on each of their lives. Set against the backdrop of eco-terrorism, limousine liberals, and a longing for the past in the face of rapid change, THE WIDOWER’S TALE (Pantheon, $25.95) succeeds in illuminating the darkest corners of our hypocrisy and hopes, all with Glass’s characteristic tenderness and humor.
If we don’t know where we’re from, how can we possibly know who we are supposed to be? And if we don’t know who we are, how can we know where we’re going? In his second novel, Dinaw Mengestu (author of The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears) shapes and reshapes the immigrant story in a layered telling that reflects the complications and dangers of having a single national narrative. Yosef and Mariam Woldemariam are Ethiopian immigrants who live in the Midwest and travel to Nashville for a belated honeymoon. Their son, Jonas, tells their story decades later when his own marriage and life in New York City disintegrate. Part road novel, part bildungsroman, HOW TO READ THE AIR (Riverhead, $25.95) will redefine your notions of both genres.