Jan 24, 2020
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12 New Books We Recommend This Week

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THE NEW CLASS WAR: Saving Democracy From the Managerial Elite, by Michael Lind. (Portfolio/Penguin, $25.) Lind argues that beginning in the 1970s a neoliberal overclass seized control of the levers of power in American society, weakening or destroying the structures that served to protect the nation’s working-class people. “When the dust from the collapse cleared,” Lind writes, “the major institutions in which working-class people had found a voice on the basis of numbers — mass-membership parties, legislatures, trade unions and grass-roots religious and civic institutions — had been weakened or destroyed, leaving most of the nonelite population in Western countries with no voice in public affairs at all, except for shrieks of rage.”

ABIGAIL, by Magda Szabo. Translated by Len Rix. (New York Review Books Classics, paper, $16.95.) This magical novel by Szabo, the Hungarian author of “The Door,” is set during World War II at a repressive school for girls, with a rebel teenage narrator, imperiled Jewish students and a statue — the titular Abigail — with seemingly inexplicable powers. “The English edition of ‘Abigail’ is as welcome as it is overdue,” our reviewer, Becca Rothfeld, writes. “Rix’s translation is deft, but Szabo’s frank, conversational prose takes a back seat to her sinuous plotting: The novel unspools its secrets over many pages, and the resulting tour de force is taut with suspense.”

TOPICS OF CONVERSATION, by Miranda Popkey. (Knopf, $24.) The women in this debut novel talk frankly about topics including the rape fantasy, the ethics of procreation, Sylvia Plath’s poetry and female pain. “Popkey presents us with a shrewd record of the act of unflinchingly circling these amorphous notions of pain, desire and control, all the while quietly noting their clichéd contrivances in snarky, dark humor,” Antonia Hitchens writes in her review.

A WORLD WITHOUT WORK: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond, by Daniel Susskind. (Metropolitan/Holt, $28.) Predictions about machines taking over our jobs have been around for centuries. But Susskind, an economist at Oxford, makes a lucid case that it’s time to take them seriously, as advances in artificial intelligence may lead to devastating economic effects. Alana Semuels reviews it for us: “The book should be required reading for any potential presidential candidate thinking about the economy of the future,” she writes. Whatever the ultimate result of technology on human labor, Susskind “provides a useful exercise in planning for a more unequal future.”

THE BLACK CATHEDRAL, by Marcial Gala. Translated by Anna Kushner. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) In this tragicomic novel, a visionary preacher comes up against the grim realities of life in a Cuban backwater. Among its ensemble cast are accidental cannibals, angst-ridden ghosts and tenderhearted killers. “Even as the novel charts the voyages of its vagabonds, it represents an attempt to draw the periphery into the center,” Shaj Mathew writes in his review, “steering us toward the provinces as it renovates the Cuban novel.”

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