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THE PARIS POST OFFICE, by Meg Waite Clayton. (Harper/HarperCollins, $27.99.) The heroine of this suspenseful historical novel was inspired by a real-life Chicago heiress who used her money and influence to smuggle thousands of refugees to safety during World War II, showing that loyalty and love can flourish even in tragic circumstances. In Clayton’s version, the main character, Nanée, tries to reunite a French widower with his young daughter and take them to America – but how? “Waiting for the answer to that question,” writes Alida Becker in her latest Historical Fiction column, “and wondering about its impact on Nanée’s future, adds to Clayton’s already suspenseful plot.”

SEVEN GAMES: A Human Story, by Olivier Roder. (Norton, $26.95.) Roeder, a student of games and game theory, is keenly aware of the tension between what games are and what people project into them. In his “group biography” on checkers, chess, Go, backgammon, poker, Scrabble and bridge, Roeder not only explores the history of how we play, but why. It also shows, in a poignant way, how computers are changing our relationship to these games. “Each of the main sections of this book reads like a tragedy, a repeated myth of pride,” writes Peter Sagal in his review. “Every game has its story, its champions, its quirks and its community, and then comes the programmer who believes he can teach a computer to play it. inescapable human creativity, then, as programs improve, players are stripped of their illusions.

JOAN IS WELL, by Weike Wang. (Random house, $27.) Joan is a 36-year-old attending physician in an intensive care unit on New York’s Upper West Side who just wants people to leave her alone so she can work. But the pressures from her family, HR, and her neighbor leave her with a rage that Wang still lets bubble beneath the surface. “In the hands of Weike Wang,” writes Deesha Philyaw in her review, “Joan’s dry wit is downright hilarious, sometimes unintentionally, sometimes as a coping mechanism. …Wang gave us such an unusual and shameless character that we can’t help but want to spend time with her, knowing full well that she wants nothing more than to be left alone.

BLACK CAKE, by Charmaine Wilkerson. (Ballantine, $28.) In Wilkerson’s vibrant debut novel, celebrating second chances (and family food), a brother and sister only learn the truth about their mother when it’s too late to ask questions. Together, they must learn how – and when – to make her last wish come true. “Wilkerson approaches his plot like a mad chef, grabbing ingredients from around the world, slicing and dicing with abandon, tossing figures and palm fronds and a few drops of rum into a pot and letting it all simmer,” Elisabeth Egan writes in its last column Group Text. “You are immersed in a bubbling soup of family secrets, big lies, great loves, bright colors and strong smells.”

A DANGEROUS PLACE, by Chelsea B. DesAutels. (Sarabande, paper, $15.95.) The poems of the first collection of DesAutels meander between interior and exterior landscapes. The past interrupts the present, then life interrupts again – we cannot leave the present for long. In many poems, the speaker deals with cancer, as in “Broken Portrait”, with his brutal inversions of expectations: “I married a good man. He loves me and irons his shirts. I’m spoiled. / I means I rot. Our poetry columnist, Elisa Gabbert, writes: “I feel abused by this poem, in a good way. Sometimes I feel like a poem will mistreat me a little, abuse my confidence and shocks, that it is silent and then suddenly loud.In a poem, as DesAutels writes, there is “no threshold between threat and tranquillity”.

Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson