NYT 10 Best Books of 2019

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In the first chapter of this assured debut novel, two young girls vanish, sending shock waves through a town perched on the edge of the remote, brooding Kamchatka Peninsula. What follows is a novel of overlapping short stories about the various women who have been affected by their disappearance. Each richly textured tale pushes the narrative forward another month and exposes the ways in which the women of Kamchatka have been shattered — personally, culturally and emotionally — by the crime.
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Adam Gordon returns as the protagonist, but this time as a high school debate star, and mostly in the third person. Equal portions of the book are given over to the voices of his psychologist parents, and to a former classmate whose cognitive deficits are the inverse of Adam’s gifts.
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Many of the nine deeply beautiful stories in this collection explore the material consequences of time travel.
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The Mexican author’s third novel — her first to be written in English — unfolds against a backdrop of crisis: of children crossing borders, facing death, being detained, being deported unaccompanied by their guardians. The novel centers on a couple and their two children (all unnamed), who are taking a road trip from New York City to the Mexican border; the couple’s marriage is on the brink of collapse as they pursue independent ethnographic research projects and the woman tries to help a Mexican immigrant find her daughters, who’ve gone missing in their attempt to cross the border behind her.
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A desolate ferry terminal on the Spanish coast isn’t a place where you’d expect to encounter sharp-edged lyricism or rueful philosophy, but thanks to the two Irish gangster antiheroes of Barry’s novel, there’s plenty of both on display, along with scabrously amusing tale-telling and much summoning of painful memories.
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Reportage: Masked intruders dragged Jean McConville, a 38-year-old widow and mother of 10, from her Belfast home in 1972.
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The English painter Joshua Reynolds just wanted to cheer up his friend Samuel Johnson, who was feeling blue. Who knew that the Friday night gab sessions he proposed they convene at London’s Turk’s Head Tavern would end up attracting virtually all the leading lights of late-18th-century Britain?
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Part oral history, part urban history, part celebration of a bygone way of life, “The Yellow House” is a full indictment of the greed, discrimination, indifference and poor city planning that led her family’s home to be wiped off the map. Tracing the history of a single home in New Orleans East (an area “50 times the size of the French Quarter,” yet nowhere to be found on most tourist maps, comprising scraps of real estate whites have passed over), from the ’60s to Hurricane Katrina.
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Snyder’s thoroughly reported book covers what the World Health Organization has called “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.” In America alone, more than half of all murdered women are killed by a current or former partner; domestic violence cuts across lines of class, religion and race.
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Higginbotham’s superb account of the April 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is one of those rare books about science and technology that read like a tension-filled thriller.
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