New in Paperback: ‘How Much of These Hills Is Gold’ and ‘Coffeeland’

HOW MUCH OF THESE HILLS IS GOLD, by C Pam Zhang. (Riverhead, 336 pp., $16.) Our reviewer, Martha Southgate, compared this “arresting” debut novel, about the long journey of two Chinese-American siblings to bury their failed gold-rush-prospector father in the sweepingly beautiful and barren American West, to, yes, Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” and Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”

MISS AUSTEN: A Novel of the Austen Sisters, by Gill Hornby. (Flatiron, 288 pp., $16.99.) In her answer to those who wonder what was in the letters Jane Austen’s older sister destroyed after the celebrated writer’s death, Hornby depicts “a romance that could have emerged from an Austen novel,” our reviewer, Alida Becker, wrote, and provides a “persuasive” portrait of that “bane of scholars and biographers” Cassandra Austen.

COFFEELAND: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug, by Augustine Sedgewick. (Penguin, 448 pp., $18.) This “engaging,” “sprawling” account of “how coffee made modern El Salvador” and helped “remake consumer habits worldwide,” as our reviewer, Lizabeth Cohen, put it, contains many “fascinating threads,” including the post-World War II invention of the coffee break, which fed our growing habit.

AFTERLIFE, by Julia Alvarez. (Algonquin, 288 pp., $16.95.) While continuing to mine the “intimacies of immigrant sisterhood” that her previous work explored, Alvarez’s latest novel “ably tackles” privilege, according to our reviewer, Francisco Cantú. A retired Dominican-American widow wakes up to migrants’ plight when a pregnant, undocumented Mexican girl seeks refuge at her house in Vermont.

HORROR STORIES: A Memoir, by Liz Phair. (Random House, 288 pp., $18.) “We can be monsters, we human beings,” the indie rock star declares, and “she is including herself in that company,” Stacey D’Erasmo noted in her review of what she called a “uniquely thoughtful, self-aware” memoir. The horrors Phair describes are “small-scale, but they act as metaphors for larger questions … much as song lyrics.”

BREASTS AND EGGS, by Mieko Kawakami. Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd. (Europa Editions, 432 pp., $16.95.) A literary sensation in Japan, Kawakami writes with “a bracing lack of sentimentality,” in the words of our reviewer, Katie Kitamura, about working-class single motherhood. The novel’s title refers to one character’s quest for breast augmentation and another’s for a sperm donor.

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