American Judaism: A HistoryJonathon D. Sarna
(Yale University Press · hardcover · $35)
Spiced with an effective blend of anecdotes and analysis, Sarna's book tells the often troubled story of the 350-year history of Jews in America. It's the first such history to be published in the last half century, and by most accounts it's superior to its outdated predecessors.
Pushkin and the Queen of SpadesAlice Randall
(Houghton Mifflin · hardcover · $24)
A few years back, Randall garnered lots of attention, both positive and negative, for The Wind Done Gone, her creative retelling of Gone with the Wind. Her latest novel about an African American professor and her rebellious son veers in a completely different but equally satisfying comic direction.
Good GriefLolly Winston
(Warner Books · hardcover · $18)
If you're looking for some decent chick lit for a quick summer read, check out Winston's debut novel about a young widow who moves in with an old friend to deal with her crushing grief. Advance readers say Good Grief is fluffy and light but a great warm-weather page turner.
(Riverhead Books · hardcover · $24.95)
Highly respected Somalian writer Nuruddin Farah delivers an emotional novel about a middle-aged Somalian refugee who returns to his violent homeland to settle accounts. Links has already been called one of the brightest literary events of the year.