Salon Books editors recommend
The Book of Revelation by Rupert Thomson
It's hard to know which half of English novelist Rupert Thomson's "The Book of Revelation" is more unsettling, the first or the last. In the first half, the narrator, a dancer living in Amsterdam, is kidnapped by a group of mysterious women who use him as their sex slave, playing out various scenarios of degradation and menacing eroticism. In the second half, the man is freed and becomes obsessed with finding his captors -- the tragedy is that he's lost his capacity, but not his taste, for intimacy. Disturbing and shudderingly beautiful, "The Book of Revelation" assesses the meaning and value of tenderness, from the point of view of a man who may have been robbed of it forever.
-- Stephanie Zacharek
After Life by Rhian Ellis
On a tip from a Salon reader, I picked up this quirky suspense novel about a young woman who lives in a small upstate New York town founded and inhabited by spiritualists. Herself a medium, Naomi often finds the line between the fraudulent and the authentic very hard to draw, especially given a dire secret she's been keeping for 10 years. But what's really winning about this unusual book is the way it melds thriller elements with the kind of rueful, smart, outsider perspective of literary novels like Elizabeth McCracken's "The Giant's House" and Myla Goldberg's "Bee Season." This is a page-turner with soul.
-- Laura Miller
Recent books praised by Salon's critics
What to read: The best of July's fiction
Novels of love and evil, from lesbian Victoriana to deft, Vonnegut-style humor and gritty Indian realism.
By Salon's critics
The Making of Intelligence by Ken Richardson
A new attempt to answer a stubborn old question: If humans are such an intelligent species, why can't we figure out what I.Q. tests measure?
By Christine Kenneally
The Dragon Syndicates by Martin Booth
The blood-soaked history of the Chinese secret societies that started the heroin trade and invented the "death by myriad swords."
By Greg Villepique
A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom
A collection of stories that look frankly at the lives of transsexuals, adulterers, cancer survivors and angry teenagers.
By Elizabeth Macklin
Herman Melville by Elizabeth Hardwick
A great critic takes on a great novelist, finding agony, homoeroticism and, ultimately, mystery.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
Assassination by Miles Hudson
A historian coolly assesses whether killing a leader is a useful political tactic.
Reviewed by Matthew DeBord
An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender
The author of "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt" creates a heroine with violent dreams, a passion for numbers and some problems with sex.
Reviewed by Mike Albo
Little Saint: The Hours of Saint Foy by Hannah Green
On the trail of a French martyr beheaded by her father for embracing Christianity instead of the goddess Diana.
Reviewed by Laura Morgan Green
Collapse: When Buildings Fall Down by Phillip Wearne
Read the hair-raising details of how and why man-made structures come tumbling to earth!
Reviewed by Greg Villepique
The Language War by Robin Tolmach Lakoff
From hate speech laws to the battle over Native American sports team names, a linguist shows why we're so worked up about the power of words.
Reviewed by Virginia Vitzthum
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
The plot deepens as the fourth Harry Potter book takes Rowling's young hero to his darkest adventure yet.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
A strangely powerful first novel about spelling, mysticism and finding God in the details.
Reviewed by Gavin McNett
The Moose That Roared by Keith Scott
A fact-crammed history of the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" show and its gleefully prankish creators.
Reviewed by Mary Elizabeth Williams
Gig edited by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe and Sabin Streeter
In an update of Studs Terkel's "Working," Americans tell all about the jobs they hate and love.
Reviewed by Ann Marlowe
Vertigo by W.G. Sebald
The tale of a strange quest, haunted by the ghost of Kafka, from one of the oddest great writers around.
Reviewed by Brigitte Frase
Living to Tell by Antonya Nelson
From the author of "Nobody's Girl," a dazzling novel about a lovably screwed-up family reunited under one roof.
Reviewed by Patricia Kean
Bodies in Motion and at Rest by Thomas Lynch
The popular literary undertaker takes on some tough life issues: Divorce, abortion and putting a hated cat to sleep.
Reviewed by Lorin Stein
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
In another sidesplitting collection, the author writes about his foulmouthed brother, his hopeless French and his brief career as a speed-freak performance artist.
Reviewed by Greg Villepique
The Angel on the Roof by Russell Banks
In stories from nearly four decades, the writer demonstrates an astonishing range, a wonderful eye and a finely tuned talent for breaking hearts.
Reviewed by Jonathan Miles
Stork Club by Ralph Blumenthal
A history of the club where Jack and Jackie and Joltin' Joe and Marilyn and Grace and Rainier and J. Edgar all rubbed shoulders.
Reviewed by George Rafael
Experience: A Memoir by Martin Amis
The renowned novelist opens up on the subject of his famously vile father, Sir Kingsley, and the $30,000 fortune he spent repairing his own famously vile teeth.
Reviewed by Andy Roe
Of Two Minds: The Growing Disorder in American Psychiatry by T.M. Luhrmann
A subtle study of the conflict between talk-oriented and drug-oriented psychotherapy -- and a frightening demonstration of how medical budget cutters are betraying the mentally ill and putting the rest of us at risk.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
Plowing the Dark by Richard Powers
A riveting novel conjures up the bygone days of virtual reality and the promise of the unreal world that might have been.
Reviewed by Pam Rosenthal
Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss
A daring first novel probes the psychological -- and sexual -- lives of the celebrated Siamese twins.
Reviewed by Jonathan Miles