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An American marriage
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  New York Times Review

TIME PIECES: A Dublin Memoir, by John Banville. (Knopf, $26.95.) The Booker Prize-winning novelist wanders Ireland's capital city, recalling people and places that still live in his memory. Scattered throughout are suitably atmospheric photographs by Paul Joyce. THE REAL LIFE OF THE PARTHENON, by Patricia Vigderman. (Mad Creek/Ohio State University Press, paper, $21.95.) An American scholar visits classic sites of the ancient world in a book that's part travelogue, part memoir and part musing on our complex, contested cultural heritage. SMOKETOWN: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance, by Mark Whitaker. (Simon & Schuster, $30.) Whitaker recounts the untold history of Pittsburgh's role as a mecca for African-Americans in the mid-20th century - from figures like Billy Strayhorn and August Wilson to the local newspaper, The Courier, which covered it all. FEEL FREE: Essays, byZadie Smith. (Penguin, $28.) Deftly roving from literature and philosophy to art, pop music and film, Smith's incisive new collection showcases her exuberance and range while making a cohesive argument for social and aesthetic freedom. A GIRL IN EXILE: Requiem for Linda B., by Ismail Kadare. Translated by John Hodgson. (Counterpoint, $25.) The famed Albanian writer, and perpetual Nobel Prize contender, produces a novel that grapples with the supernatural in a story set against a backdrop of interrogation, exile and thwarted lives. AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, by Tayari Jones. (Algonquin, $26.95.) Roy and Celestial are a young black couple in Atlanta "on the come up," as he puts it, when he's convicted of a rape he did not commit and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The unfairness of the years stolen from this couple by a great cosmic error forms the novel's slow burn. MONSTER PORTRAITS, by Del and Sofia Samatar. (Rose Metal, paper, $14.95.) Del and Sofia Samatar are brother and sister, and their beautiful new book, which braids Del's art and Sofia's text, explores monstrosity and evil while inviting a discussion about race and diaspora. THE NIGHT DIARY, by Veera Hiranandani. (Dial, $16.99; ages 8 to 12.) A 12-year-old refugee and her family make their way to India's border during the bloody events of Partition in 1947. THE HEART AND MIND OF FRANCES PAULEY, by April Stevens. (Schwartz & Wade, $16.99; ages 8 to 12.) This understated middle grade debut features a dreamy 11-year-old who spends hours among the rocks in her backyard. What the book lacks in plot, it more than makes up in observation, mood and full-on feeling. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web:

  Publishers Weekly Review

Jones (Silver Sparrow) lays bare the devastating effects of wrongful imprisonment in this piercing tale of an unspooling marriage. Roy, an ambitious corporate executive, and Celestial, a talented artist and the daughter of a self-made millionaire, struggle to maintain their fledgling union when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison on a rape charge he is adamant is false. Before Roy's arrest, the narrative toggles between his and Celestial's perspectives; it takes an epistolary form during his imprisonment that affectingly depicts their heartbreaking descent into anger, confusion, and loneliness. When Roy is proven innocent and released seven years early, another narrator is introduced: Andre, Celestial's lifelong best friend who has become very close to her while Roy has been away. Jones maintains a brisk pace that injects real suspense into the principal characters' choices around fidelity, which are all fraught with guilt and suspicion, admirably refraining from tipping her hand toward one character's perspective. The dialogue-especially the letters between Roy and Celestial-are sometimes too heavily weighted by exposition, and the language slides toward melodrama. But the central conflict is masterfully executed: Jones uses her love triangle to explore simmering class tensions and reverberating racial injustice in the contemporary South, while also delivering a satisfying romantic drama. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn't commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy's time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.<br> <br> This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward--with hope and pain--into the future.
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